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Council addresses drilling issues, sign ordinance

Council addresses drilling issues, sign ordinance
La Vernia Mayor Robert Gregory outlines for the city council a draft of an ordinance that would regulate subsurface petroleum and natural gas drilling.

By Gregory Ripps


The La Vernia City Council has amended its ordinance on signs and discussed a comprehensive ordinance to regulate subsurface petroleum and natural gas drilling; this took place during the Dec. 11 regular council meeting.

Councilman Randy Leonard took the lead with changes to the sign ordinance, which already requires permits for placement of signs within city limits. The amendment includes specific language relating to banners, which are specified as all pole-mounted sail, feathered, teardrop, or bowed banners. These banners must be self-supported, no higher than 13 feet, and set back at least 5 feet from roadways.

The amendment limits the number of banners to two per business property or strip center and restricts display to business hours only. The amendment also requires a sign placement plan be presented at the time a permit is requested.

Leonard explained that existing banner placement would be “grandfathered.” However, the ordinance already required appearance standards. When a banner needs to be replaced, it would fall under the new restrictions.

Councilman Jennifer Moczygemba made the motion to adopt the amendment to the ordinance; this passed unanimously.

Mayor Robert Gregory led discussion on creating an ordinance that would regulate subsurface petroleum and natural gas drilling, establish procedures for issuing subsurface drilling permits, and require permits and annual registration fees.

He offered a draft of the ordinance, which he said was essentially the same as that of Karnes City.

“All I added was to forbid drilling in the flood plain and noise restrictions,” Gregory said.

The mayor highlighted some elements of the draft ordinance, such as prevention of drilling close to homes and restriction of seismic testing.

“If they have mineral rights, you’ve got to allow drilling if it’s within public safety,” he said. “We have to make sure we protect the whole city. Let’s start thinking about some things.”

Gregory suggested the council address the proposed ordinance again after the beginning of January.

Council members then discussed raising the fee schedule for food licenses to pay for more comprehensive inspections. They agreed to let Bureau Veritas, a company that specializes in inspections, review the current ordinance relating to food establishments.

“We are raising the level of professionalism we are expecting from businesses,” Gregory said.

In other action, the council:

¢Set the fee for sign permits at $25 per sign.

¢Appointed the mayor as the city’s representative on the Wilson County Appraisal District board of directors.

¢Postponed creating an employee leave bank policy.

¢Contracted Bureau Veritas to perform building inspections.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, at City Hall, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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