The Lead July 4, 2022: Fireworks are banned in Kerr County; Robert Earl Keen hosts his last Kerrville show

The Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission has its work cut out for it on Thursday.

Good morning, Kerr County! And Happy Fourth of July!

Our star-spangled forecast features mostly cloudy conditions this morning, clearing the way for a sunny afternoon and a high of 95. The rest of the week looks hot. By the weekend, we could see temperatures back in the triple digits.

On today's The Lead Live!

It's our first Fourth of July show, and Kerrville Pets Alive's Karen Guerriero to update us on keeping your critters safe on the Fourth. The Kerrville Convention and Visitor's Bureau's Leslie Jones will tell us about activities around Kerrville for the holiday.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by:

Speaking of those events, here you go:

Today's events



  • Bluebell Hills Community Parade — Trinity Baptist Church, 9 a.m. Information: The details: Celebrate the 4th of July with a 1-mile parade. Kids of every age, decorate your bike, trike, wagon, stroller, your leashed pet, or yourself (please NO motorized rides) and come on down. Festive costumes are encouraged. Popsicles provided by Trinity Baptist Church at the end of the parade.

Live music and fireworks

  • Robert Earl Keen Fourth on the River — Louise Hays Park, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Information: The details: Performers include Del Castillo, Kylie Frey, and a special guest of Robert's with REK as the headliner. A beautiful fireworks display will begin at dusk.


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Fireworks are banned; the downside of the banning

On Friday afternoon, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly banned the sale and use of fireworks across the county. It was an emergency action in the face of severe drought in the county. While many cheered the action, some depend on fireworks for income, especially some nonprofit groups. So, you may want to check to see if your favorite nonprofit has a hand in selling fireworks as a fundraiser.

And then, as a reminder about the dry conditions, the Hunt Volunteer Fire Department helped fight a brush fire topping 500 acres last week. This is just another sign of the perilous fire conditions in Kerr County.

Planning and Zoning tackles more short-term rentals

When the Kerrville planning and zoning commission meets Thursday, they will face another round of short-term rental approvals, and this time they are met with a notable objection.

Judge Pat Patillo, the 216th District Court judge, opposes the approval of a short-term rental at 1701 Foothills Drive. And, he's not the only one.

"It is a well-regarded fact that it is a very quiet neighborhood with no known amenities appealing to outsiders, such as the river, parks, or water features," wrote Ruth Spradling, who lives nearby and said she's a former member of the P&Z.

There are seven short-term rentals on the P&Z agenda for Thursday, and more are on the way as Kerrville inches toward 100 city-approved short-term rentals. The issue has proven vexing for both P&Z and the City Council. Last week, the two bodies met to discuss how to contain, control or inhibit their growth. Ultimately, the two groups decided to hold a town hall meeting to solicit resident feedback on the issue.

Those who oppose the rentals, often managed through popular online sites like Airbnb or VRBO, use common complaints ranging from destroying the character of a neighborhood to traffic. There are also significant worries about the constant flow of unknown people to a neighborhood.

"This is a family neighborhood and is deed restricted to single-family residences," Pattillo wrote. "An STR at this address is out of place and will negatively impact this neighborhood. I am all in favor of the important rights of property owners to do as they please with their property so long as the exercise of those rights does not negatively impact the rights of any other property owners."

However, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that deed restrictions cannot block short-term rentals. The right-wing Texas Public Policy Foundation led the charge against regulations, including a 2019 case where the Texas Court of Appeals found the city of Austin's efforts to curb short-term rentals unconstitutional.

"In striking down the Austin ordinance ban on short-term rental use and the restrictions on guest activities within a private residential setting, the Third Court of Appeals stopped the overreach by the city of Austin," wrote Robert Henneke, the general counsel of TPPF. "Noting that the city still has nuisance laws to address actual public disturbances, the opinion highlighted the lack of data from the city justifying any restriction, let alone the manner this ordinance infringes upon fundamental rights. Today's opinion is good news for the rights of persons to assemble, and a sharp rebuke to the city for its unconstitutional ordinance."

Henneke, by the way, is a Tivy grad who served as Kerr County's attorney.

In the Austin case, the city attempted to slow short-term rentals by blocking those where the owner did not live full-time.

The TPPF's position, however, is certainly running contrary to some of these arguments from Kerrville's conservative base, including this one:

"This is a neighborhood of conservative retirees who are long-term residents," wrote Merrick and Kay Harter in opposition to a short-term rental at 531 Fairway Dr. "We live on a quiet cul-de-sac which we especially enjoy for lack of through-traffic."

The short-term rentals on Thursday afternoon's agenda are:

531 Fairway Court

410 Circle Dr.

1229 Jefferson St.

1959 Arcadia Loop

1701 Foothills Dr.

330 Guadalupe St.

426 Meadowview Lane

In other P&Z business:

  • A developer is asking the P&Z to change the zoning on a 22-acre parcel along east Main Street so it can build multi-family housing on the land. The site is in the 2300 block of Main Street and just up the street from the Kerr County Sheriff's Office on Clearwater Paseo.
  • In that same area, the P&Z will see the first plats on a 37-acre single-family housing development, west of Loop 534 that would feature an extension of Sendero Ridge connecting to the Loop. Exactly how many homes would be constructed there is unclear.

Kerrville Pets Alive makes its case with video

Come November, the Kerr County commissioner's court could order an election for three bond measures to help pay for new or upgraded facilities, including a new animal shelter.

Kerrville Pets Alive!, founded to help the county manage its animal welfare initiatives, produced one of the most glaring examples of why the county's current shelter needs immediate replacement. The holding kennels have gaps for water to flow through a channel to keep the kennels clean. However, these gaps are wide enough for small dogs to slip through, and even some medium-sized dogs can get their heads through.

Other stories we're following:

  • The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state can enforce its ban on abortions — first codified in 1925, eventually struck down by Roe V. Wade. That means abortion is now illegal. Here's an explainer:
  • The San Antonio Report provides an update on projects underway at the San Antonio Zoo to enhance the experience for visitors.
  • After a blockbuster, and jaw-dropping Supreme Court session, the court could make even bigger waves in the next session by taking up a case from North Carolina, which could sway elections in the years to come. That's what liberals are warning. The case hinges on "independent state legislature theory," and in this case, it's about whether or not a state legislature has the power to set political maps — or overturn an election. The most recent example was an Arizona effort to create an independent commission to draw legislative districts. The Supremes ruled formation of the commission was legal, rejecting the so-called "independent legislature theory." However, the argument gained new ground in the wake of the 2020 election. In the North Carolina case, the Speaker of the state's House filed suit after the courts blocked the legislature's gerrymandered districts that favored Republicans. The key argument is that the legislature would control elections and election law — even nullifying voter-backed election laws. Here's more on the issue:

The best of the weekend


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Warming up for the 4th of July Weekend ❤️


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This past week we took the niece and nephew back to Kerrville with us, so our week was loaded with as much fun as we co…

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