Good morning, Kerr County!
Here's what the National Weather Service says about the next three days — HOT. That's it. Expect highs today around 99 and possibly hitting 100 degrees through the week. Fun.
On The Lead Live!
We welcome Symphony of the Hills Director Gene Dowdy and Symphony President Tim Summerlin. We will get a preview of the upcoming season of the Symphony. The Symphony's 2022-2023 season opens Oct. 6 with a performance called "When in Rome: Inspirations from Italy." The Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau's Julie Davis joins us to give us an update on events, and Texas Hill Country Advisor Andrew Gay provides a look at the financial markets.
More short-term rental discussions are headed our way
The Kerrville planning and zoning commission can best be described as besieged these days. And it's not going to get any easier for the seven-member committee.
On Thursday afternoon, P&Z will return to short-term rental discussions, and toward the end of the 4 p.m. meeting, they will hear from Planning Director Drew Paxton about proposed changes to the city's ordinance.
What Paxton and the city staff are proposing is the following:
- Approving short-term rentals only in residential neighborhoods, known as R-1 zoning, with an accessory unit — think granny flat or something like it. Those approvals also require a conditional-use permit, a license and an annual inspection. Those short-term rentals would also be limited to every 250 feet.
- Approving by right short-term rentals in zones for mixed-use, high density, residential transition and the Downtown Arts and Cultural District.
- Parking spaces required would be one per bedroom plus one for an off-site manager.
- No signs are permitted for or related to the short-term rental.
Paxton's staff report also notes that a short-term rental license and on-site inspection would be a separate code requirements for the City Council to approve.
The commission could also grandfather existing short-term rentals that meet the code requirements.
However, even before P&Z gets to that discussion, they face another short-term rental with significant neighborhood opposition — this one in Riverhill.
The owners of 510 Preston Trail want to convert an existing building on their property to a short-term rental while remaining in the main house. The owners meet the terms of the conditional-use permit, according to a city staff report. However, there is significant opposition in the increasingly ferocious conversation about short-term rentals.
"I bought my home with the understanding this would be a private Country Club with single-family dwellings surrounding the course, and I would be disappointed if this changed," wrote Cynthia Itschner in a letter to the commission. "I think it would be unwise for the P&Z to approve such a change."
Not all of the conversation features opposition to allowing the rentals.
"This home is upscale, and they would be attracting guests who want to play golf at Riverhill Country Club and enjoy the amenities," wrote Tobin and Jeanette Tilley, who are neighbors. "Many of our neighbors are under the impression that there are no STRs in Riverhill. This is obviously not correct."
Last week, the discussion about short-term rentals reached a fever pitch with a town hall meeting and then last Thursday, we had three short-term rental owners on The Lead Live to discuss the issue. The trio of Robin Perrin, Nathan Fitch and Kim Richards argued that the conditional-use permit process needs reforming with a new regulatory policy.
In other P&Z business:
- The commission will re-zone the city's recent purchase of 7.1 acres at Clearwater Paseo, which will become the new public safety complex.
- Creating a planned development district off of Yorktown Boulevard, just west of Sidney Baker Street and across from Antler Stadium, could lead to a pair of four-story hotels constructed on a 6-acre parcel.
County's austere budgeting still means deficit
After years of relatively austere budgets, the Kerr County Commissioner's Court is facing some grim realities when it comes to spending, and it's not going to be easy.
A nagging budget deficit is looming in the $5-$7 million range. With a no-new revenue budget, the court is looking at scraping every last penny to cover inflationary costs and years kicking the can down the road.
That was part of Monday's discussion during an epic six-hour meeting, much of it in executive session, and funding county departments, especially the jail and public safety, is increasingly expensive. The reality of the commissioners is using $10 million in the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover a new countywide emergency radio system and using the rest to cover other costs.
County Auditor Tanya Shelton, who oversees budget implementation, told the commissioners that the increased expenses in the jail totaled $1 million — much of it related to inflationary pressures. However, the county needed upgrades to countywide information technology and the phone systems — adding more than $500,000 in expenses.
If there was a sliver of good news in the ongoing budgetary review, it was the county reduced its deficit — at least for now — and will give raises of about 5% to county employees.
Things to do in Kerr County!
- Luckenbach Legacy, Hondo's Daughter, Becky Crouch Patterson Exhibition — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: Becky Crouch Patterson, a fifth-generation Texan whose father was the legendary developer of historic tiny-town Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings's classic song, "Let's Go to Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love." This is Patterson's original art, which he describes as a marriage of Texas Folk Art and Fine Art, plus textiles, memorabilia and works from her life. In addition to her work, Hondo and Luckenbach artifacts fill three cases.
- Kerr Arts and Cultural Center Art Exhibits — Kerr Arts Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: 830-895-2911 The details: Through Aug. 13, three different art exhibits. Paintings by LaRue, "Kerrville Fiber Artists," Fiber art show by local artists, "Hometown Crafts Teacher's Show," an exhibition featuring the work of local teachers, sponsored by Hometown Crafts and Gifts.
Wednesday, Aug. 3
Markets and Sales
- Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1–3 p.m. Information: https://kerrvillet.gov/349/FOTL-Book-Sale The details: Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
- Kerr County Produce Market Day — The Big Red Barn, 10 a.m., Information: 830-896-7330 The details: Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.
- Pickers Circle — La Escondida 1962, 7 p.m., Information: https://www.facebook.com/La-Escondida-1962-402905176935599/ The details: Hosted by Carlos and Dan and the Silver Bullets. Come bring your guitar, banjo or harmonica and join the circle.
Thursday, Aug. 4
Science and Nature
- Nature Nights — Riverside Nature Center, 6 p.m. Information: 830-257-4837 The details: Artifacts: Trash to Treasure
- Brent Ryan — Southern Sky Music Cafe, 7 p.m., Information: https://www.southernskymusiccafe.com
- Jake Asbury — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, 6 p.m. Information: https://www.facebook.com/wineboutique1
- Open Mic Night — Gravity Check Saloon and Arena, 6-10 p.m. Information: https://www.facebook.com/GravityCheckSaloon