HSB postpones acting on construction ordinance

Lew K. Cohn/The Highlander
Horseshoe Bay City Manager Stan Farmer, left, is recognized by Mayor Steve Jordan for 10 years of service to the city. Farmer was hired as city manager in May 2008 and has been credited with a number of innovative ideas which have helped the city.

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Horseshoe Bay City Council members decided Tuesday to postpone action on a proposed ordiannce that would have designated days when building construction would not be allowed.

Instead, council members will wait to take up the issue until after a June meeting in which local construction contractors will be able to help city staff find acceptable parameters to help reduce construction-based noise on weekends in city limits.

Last month, Horseshoe Bay resident Gilbert Bennett had asked the council to consider prohibiting construction on Saturdays which precede a Sunday holiday and played the council a 45-second snippet of construction noise recorded on the Saturday before Easter from a site outside his home.

Council had directed City Development Services Director Eric Winter and other staff to propose an amendment to the Building Permit Ordinance and to get input from local builders.

We had a meeting with contractors in April and many of them stated that they were not in favor of it because it would reduce the number of days their subcontractors work, and their subcontractors need to work to be paid,” Winter said. “They want to find a way to address the problem that would not punish or restrict builders who are trying to do the right thing.”

Local contractor Scooter Loftin said cutting days in which construction can be done can put a hardship on owners and contractors alike who are held to contracts which state how many days they are allowed to finish a home.

He also noted subcontractors — already in limited supply in the area — will choose to leave projects and take other work in order to get paid if they know they will encounter delays due to restrictions on when they can work in Horseshoe Bay.

The council agreed to place the amendment on hold, but Mayor Steve Jordan did indicate he wanted council and staff to consider finding a way to address reducing nuisance noise inside city limits.

In other action, the council voted unanimously to award a contract to perform the fiscal 2017-2018 audit to Brooks Watson & Co. of Houston at a cost of $16,890. City Finance Director Kristen Woolley said the city had received five responses to a request for proposals and the bid from Brooks Watson & Co. was the lowest bid.

Staff feels Brooks Watson & Co. best fit the needs and goals of the City going forward,” Woolley said. “They specialize in governmental audits. Several of their clients have been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Excellence Award for their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR).”

A committee of Jordan and Council member Kent Graham reviewed the proposals with staff and also recommended going with Brooks & Watson.

The council also approved an ordinance which eliminated Section 14.02.402(b)(14)(d) of the city's zoning ordinance to remove requirements that casitas be attached to a residence with a covered breezeway or common wall.

Winter said property owner associations (POAs) determine the standards for their neighborhoods and it would be up to the POA's architectural committee to determine if they would waive POA requirements that casitas be attached to new construction as “the requirement for a connection between the two buildings is an aesthetic design element.”

Language in the existing ordinance would require board of adjustment (BOA) approval of any waiver by a POA, creating an administrative “speed bump” which would have to be completed before construction could begin, Winter said.

Horseshoe Bay City Manager Stan Farmer was recognized at the council meeting for 10 years of service to the City of Horseshoe Bay. Farmer became City Manager in May 2008. Jordan recognized Farmer's work on a number of initiatives, including the city's participation in the Dark Skies initiative and its Gold Scenic City designation.

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