Council votes to slow speed on SH 29

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By Rachel Madison

The City Council voted last week to reduce the speed limit on State Highway 29 from 55 MPH to 50 MPH between CR 200 and Seward Junction (US Hwy 183), based on a traffic study conducted by Texas Department of Transportation.

Based on the study, that section of highway was the only area the speed limit could be reduced for now. Council directed staff to look into extending the speed limit reduction farther west along SH 29 to the high school. City Administrator Lacie Hale said TXDOT plans to do another traffic study after all the lights scheduled for SH 29 are installed, such as the light currently under construction at CR 214 and SH 29.

“[The study] will be more accurate when they get all the lights installed,” she said. “There will eventually be seven lights between CR 200 and Seward Junction. Once we get those completed, it will by nature slow down traffic. At that time TXDOT will come out and do another traffic study to evaluate what the speed is with all that traffic being mitigated with those lights and will potentially lower the speed limit even more.”

Once new signage is installed in that area, the new speed limit will be in effect.

During the meeting, the Council also discussed the 27 living unit equivalent (LUE) payments that were put on hold for Main Street Social by the City Council in July to study how many LUEs the food hall is actually using.

Hale said so far, the City has collected three months of water consumption data showing Main Street Social is currently using five LUEs per month. She said the City would like to continue the data collection until Jan. 1, 2022, because during the last three months, Main Street Social wasn’t 100 percent operational. At that point, the data will be brought to Council for further discussion.

The Council agreed that in the future, all businesses across the City need to have their LUEs evaluated to make sure commercial entities are being charged a fair amount of LUEs based on their water usage. Hale said staff will work on acquiring LUE data for all commercial businesses in Liberty Hill and will bring that information to Council to discuss at the Nov. 22 meeting.

She added that she will provide information on how many LUEs businesses are using, how many LUEs they have paid for, and whether or not an evaluation was done by the City.

Also last week, the Council:
• Approved Joshua Jacobi to fill the final open seat on the Parks and Recreation Board 4-1, with Council member Kathy Canady opposed because she said Jacobi does not live within city limits.
• Approved a new project manager job description for the public works department. Jay Holmes, public works director, asked Council to approve this so he can hire a new project manager to help with project management and day-to-day construction operations with upcoming projects like the swim center, lift stations and road improvements. Holmes said the salary would be paid the current market rate of $90,000 annually, commiserate with qualifications and experience.
• Approved Hale’s request to award Langford Community Management the bid for grant administration services for American Rescue Plan Act funds of approximately $700,000. The cost for the services is $43,500 and will be taken from the ARPA funds.
• Authorized Hale to execute a public safety device agreement with Williamson County.
• Authorized Hale to execute an audio/visual services contract with Jarvis Technology Services. The company will conduct an audit of what the City’s current audio/visual equipment consists of and will label each piece of equipment. A representative from the company will also be on site during city meetings, so they can assist if there are any problems such as screeching microphones. According to the contract, the City will pay Jarvis $125 per hour, which will come out of the City’s $120,000 audio/visual budget.
• City Attorney Marinella Joseph drafted an ordinance on regulating sexually oriented businesses within the City of Liberty Hill. She said these types of businesses cannot be regulated for content, but they can be regulated for the time, place and manner in which they are authorized. Joseph suggested city staff create a specific zoning district where those types of businesses would be allowed to operate, which Council agreed with and directed staff to do.
• Voted to join the Texas Global Opioid Settlement Agreement formed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office due to the epidemic caused by illicit opioid use and distribution. The first installment of the funds, which is yet to be determined, can be used for whatever project the City sees fit. The second installment of the funds must be used for a drug remediation or prevention program.
• Accepted the El Dorado development agreement after an executive session discussion.

The City Council meeting consisted of two executive sessions. The next meeting will take place on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.

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