Boundaries defined for EDC sign grants

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By Lauren Jette

The Liberty Hill Economic Development Board of Directors defined the boundaries of the façade and sign grant program, approved a snack budget for the LEGOS Camp this summer, and discussed other items during a regular meeting on Thursday.

Directors had asked City Secretary Barbara Zwernemann to find the original discussion about the boundaries of the façade and sign grant program during last month’s meeting, to help them determine whether businesses that submitted applications fell in the area covered under the program.

Assistant City Administrator Amber Lewis said based on the minutes from the EDC board, which instituted the program, applications were to “be considered on a case-by-case” basis for “income-producing properties in downtown Liberty Hill.”

Directors questioned the definition of “downtown Liberty Hill.” Zwernemann said it was simply defined as Ranch Road 1869 to Bagdad Road, both sides of the road.

“You can expand it,” Zwernemann told the directors.

“I’m on 1869,” Johnny Johnston countered. “Am I included?” Johnston, who owns and operates Dahlia Café on RR 1869, north of Highway 29, said he asked that just to “continue the train of thought” about the area eligible for the program.

Directors agreed that is why they needed to more clearly define what is considered downtown Liberty Hill.

President Lance Dean also suggested changing the wording about “income-producing properties” since there are non-income producing businesses in downtown Liberty Hill, such as churches, that he didn’t think should be excluded for that reason.

“The end result is making downtown Liberty Hill nicer,” Dean said.

The EDC approved designating downtown Liberty Hill as “Ranch Road 1869 from Highway 29 to all of Loop 332 and Hwy 29 to Barton Street behind Parker’s Corner Market”, and changed the definition of entities eligible to non-residential.

The façade and sign grant program was approved by the EDC in April 2015 and has since distributed funds for several downtown businesses including Two Brand It, the property that currently houses Liberty Hill Barber Shop, and two buildings owned by EDC Board member Eric Van Natter — Star of Texas Realty Group and an adjacent building that is currently for lease. The City has received additional applications for other projects.

Directors also approved up to $1,000 to provide snacks and drinks for children attending the LEGOS camps hosted by the City in June and July. Zwernemann said during last year’s camps, snacks and drinks, along with a small LEGO kit and certificate, were provided for each camper every day during each camp session, for about 50 kids.

Lewis gave the Board an update on the Foundation Park transfer.

In December 2015, the EDC approved up to $100,000 to assist in the transfer of the sculptures from Liberty Hill Intermediate School to Lions Foundation Park. Since then, progress on an agreement to transfer ownership of the privately-owned park to the City of Liberty Hill has stalled completely.

“The City is going to cut off support,” if the Foundation doesn’t continue discussion on the matter by May 1, Lewis said. The City will no longer mow the area and will cut off the lights starting that date, she added. Zwernemann said the contract for the land transfer with the City was completed, but the City was just waiting on the Foundation, which hadn’t had the item on any meeting agendas.

“(The Foundation) just won’t discuss it,” Lewis said.

“At some point, we will need to revoke funding, but not right now,” Director Bill Chapman said. “Let’s wait until May.”

Zwernemann gave directors an update on the Freeport tax exemption study by Moak Casey & Associates. She said Casey told her he wanted to wait until after the Liberty Hill Independent School District bond election was held on May 7 to complete the study, so as not to distract from that issue and that the study would only take two weeks to complete.

Directors expressed understanding at the reason for delay, but remained firm about getting the study complete.

“We want it. We want it done well and we want it done May 8,” Director John Clark said. No action was required on the matter.

Lewis told directors that she, City Administrator Greg Boatright and Senior Planner Sally McFeron had invited local engineers from the Texas Department of Transportation to share transportation updates during the EDC meeting in April. She asked EDC directors to be present at a dinner at Dahlia Café at 5 p.m. April 21, with the regular meeting following at 6:30 p.m. at Council Chambers, located at 2801 Ranch Road 1869.

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