Council discusses storage facilities, approves facade grant

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By SHELLY WILKISON

Although a site development plan for a new storage facility was approved by a unanimous vote of the City Council Monday, the item sparked a discussion among members about the growing number of storage facilities in Liberty Hill.

Liberty Hill Self Storage is a new development that will be located at 15230 W. SH 29, about .016 miles west of the intersection of Hwy 29 and CR 200.

Senior Planner Sally McFeron said the development is a paved storage parking lot with metal overhead roofs that will store boats and recreational vehicles. The facility will be constructed on 3.7 acres and will have spaces for 127 boats, RVs or trailers.

“Do you think we’re getting too many storage buildings on (SH) 29?” asked Councilmember Liz Rundzieher.

City Administrator Greg Boatright said staff and elected officials should at some point discuss the possibility of adopting architectural criteria or guidelines for new structures, as well as landscaping.

“Right now, the development community is really surprised, I would say, when they ask the question of architectural design and landscape ordinance. We don’t have those. We’re at the point now where we should start looking at that,” Boatright said.

“I’m not saying it’s an eyesore, but there are certain things we should be able to ask for to help make our city more presentable,” he added.

Also Monday, there was disagreement on a recommendation from the Economic Development Corp. Board to award a Facade & Sign Matching Grant to Shin Oak Realty for roof repair and improvements to a sign.

After some discussion, the Council voted 4-1 with Councilmember Elizabeth Branigan casting the no vote, to award a $5,239 grant to Shin Oak Realty, 2015 Loop 332.

Branigan said she believed the grant shouldn’t be used for “routine maintenance.”

“I question whether it’s appropriate to use the grant to replace a 40-year-old roof. This doubt is in my mind. If we went through town, I’m sure we could find a lot of 40-year-old roofs that need repair. I’m not sure this is an appropriate use of funds,” she said.

“I’m not convinced this one should have been (approved). The sign, yes, but not sure the city should pay for his (owner Randy O’Dell’s) routine maintenance,” Branigan said.

Boatright said the description of the grant allows for roof repair. The EDC Board previously agreed to extend eligibility for facade and sign matching grants to businesses outside the immediate downtown area.

The EDC Board of Directors in June approved the Shin Oak request by a unanimous vote with real estate agent Eric Van Natter abstaining “because we’re in direct competition.”

In other business, the Council approved a professional services agreement with SUNRhea Design for up to $6,000 for the development of a Master Improvement Plan for Veterans Memorial Park downtown.

Mayor Connie Fuller said staff and some council members had recently met with local Veterans to hear their input as to what improvements should be made at the small park that is adjacent to what was once the VFW Post #8200 building on Myrtle Lane. The park is currently home to a memorial wall that contains the names of service men and women from Liberty Hill. Fellowship Church owns the former VFW building, but gave the portion of land containing the memorial to the City.

“We wanted their (Veterans) input because of the contributions they have made to the community,” Fuller said. “It was a very heartwarming meeting. I’m excited the City can do this project and it can be something we can all be proud of.”

She said a master plan for the park is necessary to avoid the possibility that it might become “cluttered” through the years.

“We want to do it right and we want to make sure it’s something that has good curb appeal, make it some place people will want to come to and honor those people who have served,” she said.

Councilmember Wendell McLeod cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he thought “6,000 is too much to pay for something that should be simple.”

Fuller said the City may consider adding brick or concrete pavers around the memorial wall that could serve as a fundraiser involving the community in the park’s overall improvements.

The Council had a second discussion Monday about planting Crape Myrtles at the City’s gateway on SH 29.

City staff will seek a landscape easement from Texas Department of Transportation and if approved, agency officials will indicate where the trees should be planted along SH 29.

During his report to Council Monday, Boatright shared that discussions are ongoing with the City and the new developer of Stonewall Ranch — RSI of California.

“One thing we are talking to them about is that we inherited many bad agreements through the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority when the City purchased the regional wastewater plant). One of those is Stonewall where the regional system is responsible for reimbursing the MUD for all their internal improvements,” Boatright said. As an example, he said if the MUD spends $1.5 million on improvements, it can present the City with a bill and the regional system would be responsible for it.

“We want to get out of that,” Boatright said.

Since the Stonewall original developer Lennar-Buffington declared bankruptcy about nine months ago, the City has not received a $32,000 per month payment to the regional system. Boatright said because of all the new customers, he is confident that the City can move forward without feeling the impact of that. He said it would be to the City’s benefit to be relieved of that agreement.

Boatright added that talks with the new owner RSI include the possibility of bringing the subdivision into the city limits.
Finally, Boatright recognized The Liberty Hill Independent “for the great effort put forth in putting together the activities that took place in our park” on July 2nd.

“Everyone I talked to who saw other fireworks displays said Liberty Hill was the best. There is a lot of work that goes into something like that, and we really appreciate what you (The Independent) did for us,” he said.

In presenting a framed event poster to Owner/Publisher Shelly Wilkison, Mayor Fuller said “it was the greatest event we’ve had here in a long time. It was so wonderful.”

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