Council chooses Canady for vacant seat
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The Liberty Hill City Council is complete once again after voting unanimously to appoint Kathy Canady to fill the Place 2 vacancy.
Canady was appointed by the Council two weeks after the resignation of Ron Rhea was announced. She will complete the unexpired term, which ends in May 2020.
Mayor Pro Tem Liz Rundzieher, who presided over Monday’s meeting because Mayor Rick Hall was absent due to a family emergency, said Canady was the right choice because she has long been involved in Liberty Hill.
“Kathy has been working with the City – she was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for years – since it first incorporated,” said Rundzieher. “She just wants to get involved again and give back to the community.”
Applying to serve on the Council was something Canady felt was the right thing to do at this time.
“I have it in my heart, and (her husband) Charles and I both worked hard here in the beginning,” she said. “It’s in my background. I have a vested interest because this is where I am. My kids moved to Burnet. I didn’t move to Burnet, I stayed here.”
As far as what issues she is ready to dig into first, Canady said she will need some time.
“I really can’t answer that because I really need to see what’s going on,” she said. “I have things I’d like to concentrate on but until I know where things are at I’m not sure.”
Better communication and clear, honest information is something she said will be important for getting things done.
“I have concerns about the annexation stuff and I have concerns about how maybe we can be better informed on the Council,” she said. “I see there’s a lot of stuff going on on Facebook and I know some people on the Council and the Facebook (things) don’t quite mesh with the people I know. I want to see what’s really true and what’s Facebook hype out there.”
Three other individuals – Kim Sanders, Angela Jones, and Mike Hinbig – also submitted applications for consideration by the Council.
Sundance Ranch fears
A flurry of confusion was stirred up last weekend when social media rumors began to swirl in the Sundance Ranch neighborhood off CR 200 claiming the City of Liberty Hill was planning a new road through the neighborhood and planning annexation.
What raised the concerns of neighborhood residents, many whom were in attendance Monday, was the Liberty Hill Master Transportation Plan from 2018 that lays out potential future corridors and arterials throughout the area.
“In order for you all to come out with a map there has to have been an awful lot of backroom discussions concerning this situation,” said resident Martin Denbar. “What you’re doing is you’re recreating a well-financed, well-organized, very politically active group that’s going to fight tooth and nail against that proposed road.”
Seven residents spoke, each warning the Council that residents had money and to prepare for a legal fight.
“They don’t have the word Sundance Trail Extension in their vocabulary,” said resident Stan Leachman. “They have no idea what it is, so is this yours? I intend to file an open records act request to find every bit of information I can on this and distribute it to the 200 voting families in Sundance Ranch.”
The problem was that the road at the center of the firestorm was not new and has not been identified to be built. There was also no plan to annex any part of Sundance Ranch.
The map at the center of the debate was approved by the City Council in May 2018 as part of the Transportation Master Plan, and City Administrator Greg Boatright explained the initial process and why the plan was adopted.
“We went through and had several public hearings on the transportation plan,” Boatright said. “We’re a small city looking for revenue avenues for us to expand our roadway system and in order for us to qualify for federal funding, state funding and county funding we needed to adopt a transportation plan. We went through several public hearings and several meetings that were advertised in the local newspaper to adopt a transportation plan.”
He went on to explain that what is in the plan is not locked in for the future.
“A transportation plan is a living, breathing document,” Boatright said. “It is not something that once you adopt it that’s the way it is. It changes simply because of public input, because of costs associated with a particular route, and so your concerns here tonight do not go unnoticed and anyone that has any concerns about the transportation plan, which is something has only been in place a little over 18 months can contact me or Sally (McFeron) and come in and we will talk to you about the plan and what the future of what the transportation plan is.”
Boatright assured the nervous residents that Council and staff want to have the open dialogue and do what’s best for the community and the plans “are not something set in stone”, but added that community members must come and talk, ask questions and voice concerns.
“We do the best job we can of holding public meetings, but when we hold public meetings nobody shows up,” he said. “We advertise those and we extend that invitation to the community.”
Safe Routes grant
The Council approved a resolution in support of an application for a Texas Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Grant.
The proposal is for a shared use path to run from Liberty Hill Elementary School to just north of City Park along Loop 332 and CR 200. The goal of the estimated $845,245 project is to connect the downtown area with City Park.
Williamson County has announced that Liberty Hill will be a permanent early voting location going forward. That means any voter in the county will be able to cast their ballot in Liberty Hill throughout the early voting schedule rather than the previous situation where Liberty Hill was only a temporary location open two days during early voting.