Council adopts new sign ordinance, affirms water restrictions

By Joseph Garcia

The Liberty Hill City Council adopted a new ordinance Monday outlining the rules for signage within the city limits.

With Councilmember Byron Tippie absent and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Crane absent for the vote, the Council voted 3-0 in favor of the new  ordinance that allowed for a few changes from the old ordinance.

The decision to accept the changes are an attempt to make the City more business friendly, proponents said.

“We voted on these changes January 10 of this year and sent it to City Hall on the 16th,” said Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Clyde Davis. “And we are ready for some action on it.”

The Council established fees for sign permits. Fees shall be $2 per square feet with a maximum of $100 for a sign.

Mayor Jamie Williamson asked Davis about the fees.

“That’s going to be your fee,” she asked. “At $2 per square with the maximum of $100 whether it’s HEB or Shut Up and Eat?”

Davis responded yes, but they were originally lower in the plan.

“We wanted it to be $50 (maximum) and the P&Z voted it to be $100,” Davis said. “We think that’s (fair).”

Also, now all non-conforming signs that were erected in violation of the ordinances of the City in existence at the time the sign was permitted or should have been permitted, and which violation was or has not been cured shall be grandfathered and will not have to comply with this ordinance.

Previously, those that did not comply were required to be brought into compliance with the ordinance or be removed within a reasonable time frame specified by the City Administrator, but not to exceed 30 days.

The vote also wiped out the section of the old ordinance that states: “Nonconforming signs that do not comply with the City Construction Code shall be subject to enforcement under the Construction Code as well as this Section. Repairs or modifications required under the City Construction Code shall not entitle the owner of the Nonconforming Sign to compensation under this Subchapter.”

Under the new ordinance, whenever a land use changes, any nonconforming sign does not have to be modified or removed to be in full compliance with sign regulations.

The new ordinance also allows more permitted signs by the Zoning District including illuminated signs for C-1, C-2, C3 and industrial types. Permits are required for all illuminated signs.

Also, C3 and industrial signs on canopies are allowed without a permit as are marquee and monument industrial signs.

Window signs are now allowed across the board without a permit including AG, residential, C-1, C-2, C3 and industrial types.

Councilmember Sammy Pruett, who also serves on the Planning & Zoning Commission, said the signage change is a positive one for the City.

“The more businesses you can get in here, the more sales tax you’re going to make,” he said. “So why not make it easy as pie for them to get in here. I think it’s smart. That’s why I agree with it.”

The City Council also voted 4-0 before Mayor Pro Tem Crane left the  meeting, to officially implement Stage 1 water restrictions in Liberty Hill until further notice. City water customers are allowed to water one day per week.

Customers are prohibited from using landscape irrigation systems, automatic sprinkler systems and hosed sprinklers at all times. Only the use of manually held hoses during designated watering days and times are allowed.

Watering is allowed from 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. on designated watering days.

Street addresses ending in 0 or 1 may water on Mondays; addresses ending in 2 or 3 may water on Tuesdays; addresses ending in 4 or 5 on Wednesdays and 6 or 7 may water on Fridays. Street addresses ending in 8 or 9 are allowed to water on Saturday.

No outside watering is allowed on Thursdays and Sundays.

Robust discussions took place about the possibility of improving the City’s wells which would protect its pumps and motors for an estimated cost of $29,000 by the T. Morales Company out of Florence on Monday. But no action was taken as the item was tabled until the next meeting.

By a vote of 3-0, the Council approved the placement of ads in local publications for vacancies on the City’s boards and commissions.

There are two vacancies on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Current openings are for residents inside the city limits. There is one vacancy on the Economic Development Corp. for residents inside the city limits.

And there are two vacancies on the Parks & Recreation Board for residents living in the Liberty Hill ISD or ETJ.

The Council also received its Investment Reports for FY 2012 second quarter, ending March 31, 2012.

The total Texpool funds account balance as of March 31, is $1,432,157.75. Total withdrawals amounted to $89,325.00.

Total bond funds in escrow for the City as of March 31, are $1,163,717.03.

Also at Monday’s meeting, dates for budget and comprehensive master plan workshops were tentatively set for June 23 at 10 a.m. and July 23 with a specific time yet to be determined.

The next regular City Council meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. June 25.