Unified Development Code Amendments Office Hours

The City of Georgetown Planning Department will be hosting office visiting hours for anybody interested in learning more about the amendments, running through specific development examples, and addressing any questions you may have. Dedicated office hours will be held Wednesday, January 4 from  4 to 6 p.m.

To sign up for a specific appointment please email planning@georgetown.org. If a different time or day works better for you please do not hesitate to email us so we can arrange a separate time. UDC proposed changes can be found at udc.georgetown.org/udc-amendments.

Collection Box for Expired Medications

A safe way to dispose of unwanted or expired medications is now available in Georgetown on a year-round basis. A secure medications collection box is located in the lobby of the Public Safety Operations and Training Center at 3500 DB Wood Road. Lobby hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Georgetown Police Department is the first police station in Williamson County to offer controlled substance collection via a collection box.

Collecting unwanted drugs keeps them from being poured down a drain, flushed down a toilet, or put in the household trash. Pharmaceuticals put in our wastewater system can affect water quality and aquatic life in our creeks, rivers, and lakes.

Gary Hertel with Texas Disposal Systems explains why medications shouldn’t be put in household trash. “If a customer throws medications in the trash, that trash is put into large 18-wheeler trailers here in Georgetown and hauled to the landfill,” says Hertel. “In that process at the transfer station, if it’s raining or we have more water in the waste, those items can leach out into the drainage system and it winds up in the sewer system.”

Removing unwanted prescriptions from your home also reduces the risk of overdose or misuse by someone in your home. “Williamson County is not immune to the drug abuse problem,” says Rosana Sielaff with LifeSteps Council on Alcohol and Drugs. “Children are accessing drugs from the medicine cabinet in their own home or in the homes of friends or grandparents. We are very happy to see this permanent drop-off box, because we know that we need a place here that the community can bring their unused or expired medication,” says Sielaff.

Last year more than 1,200 pounds of medications in were collected in Georgetown in Drug Take-Back Day events sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

When the collection box is full, it is shipped to a location in Texas where the medications are incinerated, according to Jordan Fengel, solid waste and recycling coordinator for the City of Georgetown. “The medicines are destroyed. So we completely eliminate the environmental hazard and concern.”

The medications drop box is for unwanted or expired prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, or pet medicines. Items not accepted in the collection box include thermometers, needles, syringes, IV fluids, medical devices, or illegal drugs. Medications cannot be accepted from businesses such as nursing homes, doctor’s offices, or other institutions or businesses.

The medications collection box was funded by a solid waste management grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments.

For additional program information, go to the City of Georgetown website at recycle.georgetown.org/medsdropbox.

Unified Development Code Amendments Proposed

Newspaper AdThe Unified Development Code (UDC) Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing and consider proposed amendments to the UDC on Wednesday, October 12th at 3:00. The proposed amendments primarily pertain to the transportation, utility, and subdivision provisions of the code. The UDC Advisory Committee and City staff have worked throughout the year discussing and refining draft language with the intent to improve City street and sidewalk design and ensure adequate public improvements through development. The draft proposals are now ready for further public discussion and input. The meeting on October 12th will be held at the Historic Light and Water Works Building at 406 W. 8th Street and will be followed by additional public meetings at dates to be determined. The proposed amendments can be found here.

 

Flood Study Meeting July 19

A meeting to solicit public input on flooding issues and flood prone areas in Georgetown will be held on Tuesday, July 19. The meeting by the City of Georgetown in partnership with the Texas Water Development Board will be at 6 p.m. at the Georgetown Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Avenue, Georgetown, Texas, 78626.

The purpose of the meeting is to solicit comments and information from the public with respect to flood prone areas and flooding issues as part of a regional flood protection planning study. The goal of the study is to identify areas of flooding and develop mitigation strategies such as drainage maintenance and potential future drainage projects.

For more information, contact Wesley Wright, systems engineering director for the City of Georgetown, at (512) 931-7672 or at Wesley.Wright@georgetown.org. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may contact Wesley Wright by email or phone to report on areas where flooding occurs.

Water Use Up 70 Percent

water spray-1000With daytime high temperatures at or near 100 degrees every day in July, water use has jumped dramatically. Daily water consumption for Georgetown water customers has increased from 18 million gallons in early June to more than 30 million. That’s an increase of nearly 70 percent.

Electricity use also is up. Energy consumption increased about 18 percent from early June to early July.

Given these big jumps in water and electric use, most customers are likely to see a significant increase in their utility bills in the coming weeks.

“This is a pattern we see each summer,” says Leticia Zavala, customer care director for Georgetown Utility Systems. “Customers can look at their monthly bill and see the consumption period and the amount of water or electricity used during that time. When high temperatures hit the upper 90s or 100-degree mark, then utility bills reflect that a few weeks later.”

During the hottest summer months, about 75 percent of the drinking water produced each day is used for lawn irrigation.

Taking a few steps can help to moderate the increase in your monthly bill. Here are a few ways you can conserve water and electricity:

  • Set your irrigation system to water only two days each week.
  • Drop two or three minutes on the zone run times on your irrigation controller.
  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature when you are not there.

For more ways to conserve water and electricity, go to gus.georgetown.org/conservation-programs. To see your regular watering days, go to water.georgetown.org.

Georgetown Utility Systems Receives National Recognition for Reliability and Safety

Georgetown Utility Systems has been recognized recently in two national recognition programs by the American Public Power Association, which represents more than 2,000 public power utilities in the U.S.

RP3 color copyrightGeorgetown was one of 29 electric utilities in the nation to earn Reliable Public Power Provider, or RP3 status this month. Georgetown earned the platinum level recognition for providing reliable and safe electric service to its customers. The recognition was based on a review of the electric utility operations by a panel of 18 experts from across the nation.

The RP3 designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. Criteria within each category are based on sound business practices and represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. In total, 219 of the more than 2,000 public power utilities nation-wide hold the RP3 designation.

“RP3 utilities stand out as industry leaders, who dedicate themselves to providing safe and reliable electricity to their customers,” said Brent McKinney, an electric utility director in Springfield, Missouri and chair of RP3 review panel for APPA. “These designees demonstrate public power’s commitment to constantly improving best practices and raising the bar for other service providers.” McKinney presented the RP3 honors on April 4 during APPA conference in Minneapolis.

Glenn Dishong, utility director for Georgetown Utility Systems, presented the RP3 recognition at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. “There are eight utilities in Texas that are now recognized as Reliable Public Power Providers. There are three recognition levels, gold, platinum, and diamond. Georgetown Utility Systems is platinum—better than gold,” said Dishong.

In addition to the RP3 honor, the Georgetown electric utility also won a safety award at the APPA meeting. The award is based on an annual evaluation of utility’s safety program.

“Our results are that we had 78,000 exposure hours—that means 78,000 hours that the linemen are out there working in a high-voltage environment, and still coming back safe, said Dishong. “We had no incidents. We actually took first place.”

This year 107 utilities nationwide were recognized for the Safety Award of Excellence by APPA.

RP3 platium group 2016 web

Georgetown Utility Systems employees are pictured above.

Georgetown Utility Systems will provide 100 percent renewable energy by 2017. Currently more than 90 percent of the city’s energy needs are provided by a wind power contract. To learn more about Georgetown Utility Systems, go to gus.georgetown.org.

Austin Avenue Bridges Public Meeting on March 31

weight sign Austin Ave South San-450The City of Georgetown is initiating a public involvement process for the Austin Avenue Bridges Project. The first public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 31 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. This is the first of a series of meetings planned to engage and involve the public in the project for the bridges that span the north and south forks of the San Gabriel River just north of the downtown Square.

The purpose of this project is to develop a long-term plan for the Austin Avenue Bridges by evaluating possible alternatives to address safety, community, and mobility needs, ultimately developing a preferred alternative for the bridges. The bridges were constructed in 1939 and have exceeded their design life. Deterioration has occurred over time and will continue with increased traffic in the area.

This study will evaluate a number of alternatives including short- and long-term solutions. The study will balance considerations such as safety, historical significance, cost, impacts to property owners and businesses, and multi-modal access including connections to San Gabriel Park. These alternative analyses, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, will include, at a minimum, no action, provide alternative route(s), maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement.

The City recognizes the importance of working closely with the community throughout this project to identify solutions that the community values. Public input will be collected and incorporated in each phase of the study.

“City staff and our elected officials recognize the value these bridges have for the community in terms of providing safe travel in and out of our downtown,” says Nat Waggoner, Austin Avenue Bridges Project manager for the City. “The question is, how do we preserve our history and support this corridor as a gateway to our thriving retail stores and businesses, both today and in the future. We have a big task ahead to determine the best solution that supports those quality of life issues for our community. Working with the public and downtown property owners to collect input is a major part of this project.”

This is the first of four public meetings planned. The project team also is available for small meetings with individuals during the project. The Austin Avenue Bridges Project public involvement process began in January and is anticipated to be complete before the end of the year.

All project materials and public meeting materials will be available online at austinave.georgetown.org. Throughout the project there will be opportunities for the public to share comments and offer input.

Rain Barrel and Compost Bin Sale

rain barrel 50-gallon-250Rain barrels and compost bins are for sale online through City of Georgetown Conservation Services. Rain barrels are available in a 50-gallon size for $69 or a 65-gallon size for $106. The deadline to order online is 11 p.m. on Sunday, March 27. Order a rain barrel or compost bin at RainBarrelProgram.org/Georgetown.

City of Georgetown utility customers will be eligible for a $15 credit on your utility bill with an online rain barrel order. (One $15 credit is available per utility account.) When you order online, you will be given a link at the bottom of the order form for a rebate application. Fill out and submit the application and the amount will be credited to your City of Georgetown utility account after you pick up your rain barrel. Compost bins also are available for $65 each. (No credits available on compost bins.)

Rain barrels or compost bins ordered by the March 27 deadline can be picked up on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Georgetown Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Avenue.

Rain barrels are made of 100-percent recycled plastic and are designed to collect water from a downspout. They have a child-proof and bug-proof lid that keeps out mosquitos and also feature a drain valve at the bottom that connects to a garden hose. The rain barrels are gravity-fed and do not require a pump.

PUC Approves Chisholm Trail Water District Consolidation

The Public Utility Commission of Texas voted on Thursday in a unanimous ruling to approve the transfer of the service area of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District to the City of Georgetown. The transfer of the certificate of convenience and necessity or CCN to the City of Georgetown means that the City water utility now has the authority and obligation to serve water customers in the former Chisholm Trail SUD service area.

Lake Georgetown from dam web“With this approval, the regulatory process is now complete,” says Jim Briggs, general manager for utilities for the City of Georgetown. The PUC ruling follows two years of regulatory review by the PUC and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

(Photo of Lake Georgetown, photo credit: Rudy Ximenez)

“This consolidation is a win for the citizens of Georgetown because it allows us to guide and manage quality development in a fast-growing area to the northwest,” says Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross. “It’s also a win for our new customers in the Chisholm Trail district because the City has the expertise and bonding capacity to improve the current infrastructure and allow for future growth. I want to thank Jim Briggs in particular for his efforts in managing this merger process.”

Board members of the Chisholm Trail SUD first approached the City of Georgetown in 2011 about the possibility of consolidating the two water utility districts. A feasibility study on the possible merger was conducted in 2012. A vote to consolidate was approved unanimously by the Chisholm Trail board in August 2013.

In 2014, the assets and liabilities of the Chisholm Trail district were transferred to the City of Georgetown and employees of the District became City of Georgetown employees. The City of Georgetown has been operating the Chisholm Trail SUD utility since September 2014.

Delton Robinson, president of the board of Chisholm Trail SUD, says, “This is a tremendous victory for all the customers involved. We wanted a consistent and reliable water supply for our customers. There are strategic advantages to a regional water supply system, managed by a competent, professional staff. This merger means that we join multiple water sources in one system and can more cost-effectively build infrastructure to serve all our customers.”

Water contracts and obligations were not affected by the transfer of CCN or service area from Chisholm Trail to the City of Georgetown.

“We are excited to officially welcome the Chisholm Trail customers into the Georgetown Utility Systems customer family and look forward to continuing to build solid relationships with our diverse customer base,” says Leticia Zavala, customer care director for Georgetown Utility Systems.

A challenge to the consolidation continues from a small number of customers through a lawsuit initiated within the last few months. The election of pro-consolidation candidates to the Chisholm Trail district board in November runs counter to the challenge.

“We can now move forward with our plans to fully consolidate the operation and build a much more robust system to serve the entire area,” says Wes Wright, systems engineering director for the City of Georgetown.

The City is planning to expand interconnections with other water systems, replace aging infrastructure, build additional storage, and obtain additional water resources to support the former Chisholm Trail district service area.

The City of Georgetown serves about 25,000 water accounts representing about 62,500 customers in a 70 square-mile service area that includes Georgetown and surrounding areas. The former Chisholm Trail district served about 8,700 water accounts representing about 21,750 customers in a 377 square-mile service area that extends northwest from Georgetown into Bell and Burnet counties. Most of the customers in the former Chisholm Trail district are in or near the City of Georgetown extra-territorial jurisdiction, which includes unincorporated areas up to 3.5 miles beyond city limits.

Recycling Christmas Trees and Boxes

City of Georgetown residents are encouraged to recycle Christmas trees, boxes and wrapping paper to reduce material going to the landfill. If you recycle your tree, please remove the tree stand and any garland, ornaments, or lights. Artificial trees cannot be recycled.

Curbside Pick-up

Texas Disposal Systems customers in the city limits of Georgetown can put Christmas trees on the curb for collection on your regular yard trimmings pickup day. Trees seven feet in length or less can be placed at the curb uncut. Longer trees should be cut into sections. All curbside-collected yard trimmings are brought to the City’s Collection Station and ground into mulch.

Collection Day Look-up

For Georgetown city residents, your yard trimmings collection day is on your first recycling day of the month. Look it up at recycle.georgetown.org. Select the “What Are My Collection Days?” link and you’ll have two options to find your service schedule. Use the interactive map, or use the Streets List and correlating schedule charts found on the webpage.

Boxes and Wrapping Paper

Cardboard boxes and wrapping paper are recyclable. If they won’t fit in your recycling cart, you can put wrapping paper and boxes in a larger box and set it next to your recycling cart so it can be recycled. Ribbons and bows are not recyclable. Cellophane wrap and plastic bags are recyclable if they are placed in a yellow bag-the-bag, tied, and placed inside the recycling cart. Note that no extra plastic bags next to your trash cart are permitted without a bag tag. Go to recycle.georgetown.org for a complete list of recyclables.

Christmas Tree Drop-off

From December 26 through January 30 at no charge, Christmas trees will be accepted at the City of Georgetown Collection Station, 250 W.L. Walden Drive. Normal fees will apply to other items.

Collection Station

Mulch is available, year-round, free-of-charge to City residents at the Collection Station. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Collection Station closes at 12 p.m. on December 24, is closed on December 25 and January 1, and closes at 3 p.m. on December 26, December 31, and January 2. For details, contact Texas Disposal Systems at (512) 930-1715.