Commissioners look to prohibit landfills in county

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County commissioners agreed informally Tuesday to establish a committee to draft an ordinance prohibiting solid waste disposal in the county.

The committee will be comprised of Development Services Director Herb Darling, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr. and County Attorney Eddie Arredondo.

“This order would give us the ability, if a company comes in to purchase a tract of land, to prohibit them from putting in a landfill or put a stop to things if an outside company wants to dispose of hazardous waste in the county,” Darling said.

Sec. 364.012 of the Texas Government Code allows counties to prohibit the “disposal of municipal or industrial solid waste in the county if the disposal of the municipal or industrial solid waste is a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.” In order to do so, the commissioners court must adopt an ordinance specifically designating areas in the county in which municipal or industrial solid waste disposal is prohibited.

The ordinance may be passed on a first reading, but would have to be published for two consecutive weeks in The Highlander and Burnet Bulletin as official newspapers of general circulation in the county and a public hearing has to be held on the proposed ordinance.

County commissioners also heard from two women who want the county to grant them a late-hours permit for a proposed club in an unincorporated area of Burnet County at 316 North Ridge Road in Marble Falls, just off US 281 north of the city.

Business partners Christy Scoggins and Mary Schneider want a permit to serve mixed beverages until 2 a.m. Under Section 105.03 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, mixed beverage permit holders in counties of less than 500,000 population can only sell them to customers between 7 a.m. to midnight on Monday through Saturday and from midnight to 1 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays (from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays, the beverage can only be sold along with food).

The county is allowed to pass an order which establishes areas where mixed beverages can be sold up until 2 a.m. The county also could choose an earlier time to stop mixed beverage sales. Such an order can be confined either to a specific precinct or to all unincorporated areas of the county, but it cannot be made on an entity-specific basis.

This leads Burnet County into unchartered waters, County Judge James Oakley said.

“This is the first one of these we have had,” Oakley said. “I don't want to cause a level of discomfort among the commissioners, and it may be best that we not act on this today, but put it back on the agenda for two weeks from now so we can study this. We don't know if this is irrevocable or all of the ins and outs of doing this, but this can help us start the discussion.

“My philosophy is to be laissez faire up to a point,” Oakley added. “I definitely think we need feedback from the sheriff, since he is in law enforcement and this will impact his department.”

Scoggins and Schneider said their Kat Kal Club would be a smoke-free piano bar with live music and adult gaming, like horseshoes and washers. They said the business would offer VIP seating and bottle service and a DWI prevention valet for patrons.

That service has an employee of the club drive home a patron who has been drinking in the patron's own vehicle. A second vehicle picks up the employee at the patron's home.

Scoggins said the business would have an outside, enclosed and covered smoking area which is secured and monitored, which would allow the establishment to remain smoke-free inside the main part of the business and yet still serve customers who are smokers.

“People are already going to other counties and drinking at Pardners in Llano County or other clubs open in Lampasas County or Williamson County, all of which allow mixed beverage sales up to 2 a.m.,” Scoggins said. “We would like to keep those people in Burnet County. That money has been leaving the county and I am passionate about seeing it remaining here and being spent in Burnet County. We all work too hard not to keep our money here.”

Arredondo said he believes Scoggins and Schneider to be “responsible individuals who would run the business in a responsible way” but added that if the county approved an ordinance, “this will not be the only business which can do this and not everyone who tries may be as responsible as these two ladies.”

Commissioners agreed to revisit the issue on their Dec. 12 meeting agenda to give county officials time to research how an order would impact the county and what would be the best way to proceed.

The court also heard a report from Burnet County Magistrate Kirk Noaker, who gave an update on his first year as the county's magistrate for the Burnet County Jail. Since last year, Noaker has held 3,382 magistration hearings, including 2,062 for Burnet County residents and 1,320 for residents from other counties (Burnet County Jail contracts with other counties to house jail inmates).

Noaker said expansion of the jail population has increased the number of magistration hearings. He also he has heard 2,186 indigency hearings, of which 1,262 involved Burnet County residents and 924 were for residents from other counties. Noaker praised the cooperation he receives from Sheriff Calvin Boyd in making sure all magistration and indigency deadlines are met properly and the county remains in compliance with all legislation regarding the rights of the accused.

County commissioners also voted unanimously to approve acceptance of $48 million in multifamily housing revenue bonds from the Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation as a pass-through for the construction of safe, sanitary, affordable, Section 8 housing called the Shadow Ridge Apartments. No county money is obligated to the project, but the county serves as a sponsoring agency so the bonds can be issued.

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