The City of Georgetown has drafted initial revisions to the City’s Downtown and Old Town Overlay Design Guidelines based on City Council direction and public, stakeholder, consultant and staff recommendations, and is ready to present the proposed updates to the public for another round of public review and discussion.
“We are grateful for the community’s participation in the update and the continued investment in our historic past and the opportunities of the future,” Planning Director Sofia Nelson said. “We look forward to hearing the community’s feedback and ensuring these Design Guidelines continue to support our small-town charm and the values we hold for our Downtown, Old Town, and historic properties.”
The City’s project team will host a live, virtual open house from 3 to 4 p.m. April 28 via Zoom and the City‘s Facebook page. This virtual open house will focus on initial recommendations, including revisions to the content, the addition of graphics, and changes to the format of the guidelines to improve usability. The virtual meeting will be recorded and posted online for those not able to join live. Visit historic.georgetown.org for a link to the Zoom meeting, as well as a call-in number if you would like to join by phone.
Additionally, the City will use an online survey to collect feedback from the public on the proposed changes. The survey will open be open from April 28 to May 14, 2021, and will be available at historic.georgetown.org.
In April 2019, City Council adopted changes to the design review requirements for properties identified on the City’s Historic Resource Survey as well as for projects in the City’s historic overlay districts. The effort to update the Downtown and Old Town Overlay Design Guidelines, the special requirements for those properties and the historic overlay districts, began in October 2020.
Updating the guidelines will be done in three phases. Phase one was completed in February and included an analysis of the current Guidelines, stakeholder feedback, and public engagement. A summary of the engagement completed in Phase 1 can be found here. The public review of the proposed updates launching April 28 is the second phase of the project.
Phase 3 includes the review and recommendation from the Historic and Architectural Review Commission. City Council is expected to consider adoption in July.
For more information, contact the downtown and historic planner at 512-930-3581 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the Planning Department at 512-930-3575.
The City will host a free household hazardous waste collection event from 3-6 p.m. May 12 at the former show barn site in San Gabriel Park, 425 E. Morrow St.
The event will be available for up to 300 Georgetown solid waste customers who have solid waste service through Texas Disposal Systems. Customers must contact Customer Care at 512-930-3640 or email@example.com to have their name placed on a list. Please include your name, address, and utility account number when emailing customer care. Customers must have their name on the list to participate.
Due to COVID-19 safety measures, residents must remain in their vehicles during the no-contact collection. Staff will unload items from the back seat or trunk of the vehicle.
All items to be dropped off must be in their marked original containers. Commercial disposal and trailers are not allowed.
Acceptable items include:
- Batteries (household, hearing aids, cell phone, etc.)
- Automobile batteries
- Pool and spa chemicals
- Used oil/oil filters (up to five gallons per vehicle)
- Transmission fluid
- Light bulbs (including regular, compact, and four-foot fluorescent)
- Over the counter, residential lawn and garden chemicals
- Household cleaners and disinfectants marked caution, warning, or poison
- Art and hobby chemicals
- Paint (up to 10 gallons per vehicle)
- Over the counter one-pound disposal propane bottles
- Gasoline (up to five gallons per vehicle)
Unacceptable items include:
- Unmarked containers or unknown chemicals
- Construction, commercial, or landscape waste
- Professional, concentrated chemicals that require a professional license to mix
- Medications or pharmaceuticals
- Oxygen tanks
- Explosives (including ammunition and fireworks)
- Radioactive materials
- Biological materials
Debris from the winter storm, including construction materials, will not be accepted at this event. Additional household hazardous waste collection events are being planned for 2021.
For more information about the City’s solid waste and recycling services, visit recycle.georgetown.org.
Williamson County is also hosting a household hazardous waste collection event open to all county residents from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, April 24 at the Leander Public Works Department, 607 Municipal Drive, in Leander. For more information, call 512-759-8881, option 4 or visit https://bit.ly/3648ZYX.
We finished collecting debris from the remaining areas as well as from areas submitted for pick up through the online form. Through Thursday, April 1, we collected nearly 14,000 cubic yards of debris from homes within City limits
If you still have debris, here are some options:
- Georgetown solid waste customers who still have tree limb debris can drop it off at the Transfer Station, 250 W.L. Walden Drive, for $8.25 per cubic yard. There is no limit to how much customers can drop off. Click here for Transfer Station hours.
- Texas Disposal Systems will collect bundled and/or bagged brush and limbs on your April brushy collection day, which is the first recycling pickup day of the month. Find your schedule: texasdisposal.com/waste-wizard
The curbside debris pickup service was provided free of charge to people who live inside City limits.
Tree limb cleanup FAQ
The City of Georgetown has contracted with landscaping firms to pick up tree limbs that resulted from the winter storm Feb. 11-20. This FAQ addresses key questions about the special pickup.
A mural is planned at the Georgetown Art Center, 816 S. Main St., as part of the larger vision of the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District. The Georgetown Public Art Program received a Cultural District grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts for the mural, which will feature the theme of diversity. Four artists with diverse backgrounds and styles, who have already contributed significantly to the collection of local public art murals, will team up on this diversity-themed, street art-style project: Sarah Blankenship (Greetings from Georgetown, TX mural), Norma Clark and Devon Clarkson (Preserving History mural project), and J. Muzacz (El Arbol “The Tree” and Best Friends K9 Heroes murals, which he created in collaboration with veteran artist Jay Rivera).
The mural will be installed in April on the two-story west exterior wall of the Georgetown Art Center, which is adjacent to the entrance of the District Six restaurant (rendering at right). A public painting event is planned in collaboration with the constituents of Art from the Streets and other community members. The colors selected for the mural relate to District Six, as well as the accent colors of the historic Mesker Brothers storefronts of the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District. There will be a mural dedication event in July coinciding with the opening reception of the Georgetown Art Center’s Street Art exhibit.
The mural seeks to raise awareness of the diversity of culture, programming, artists, and arts audiences in Georgetown and honors the community outreach, engagement and education efforts by the Georgetown Arts and Culture Program and the Georgetown Art Center, which is managed by nonprofit group Georgetown Art Works. Each artist’s design represents their unique connection to Georgetown and the inspiration behind it.
Muralist J. Muzacz chose to represent hope, optimism, diversity, and the next generation of youth chasing their dreams by painting a stylized portrait of local Georgetown resident and emerging young artist Kayla Moore, whose utility box painting, “Cloudy Day” can be seen at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue on the Square.
“I love that art students are able to express themselves and share their emotions, struggles, and dreams with the community in such an inspiring way,”Muzacz said. Muzacz is a member of the Texas Commission on the Arts Texas Touring Roster, and the Georgetown Arts and Culture Program received additional grant funding from the TCA to include him as an artist for this project.
Abstract artist Norma Clark chose to represent two separate images that are inspirational and personal to her. One image is the sunflower that represents Brookwood in Georgetown, BiG, a vocational community for adults with special needs. Brookwood believes the citizens of “BiG” are unique like the sunflower seed that can lay dormant for years, but under the right conditions, can grow and bloom.
As the mother of an adult child with special needs, Clark said, “I love incorporating this into my work to inspire others to embrace and welcome unique art and accept unique individuals.”
The second image represented is Southwestern University’s emblem since generations of Clark’s family have a history with the institution.
“This was the place that formed my foundation as an artist, an area that otherwise I would have never explored professionally,” Clark said.
Muralist Sarah Blankenship has a background in historic preservation having worked at the Texas Historical Commission and served on historic preservation boards in Georgetown. Blankenship chose to represent an appreciation of art in public spaces.
“I love to see art in our everyday lives, from restaurants, to workplaces, to our downtowns, even in nature,” she said. “I want it to surround us in unique ways, to be available to a diverse audience, rather than it be thought of for museums or galleries.”
The image of the Corinthian column—including a capital featuring leaves and flowers—was specifically chosen because the leaves give a connection to nature, and Georgetown’s parks have been a continual source of spiritual energy for Blankenship. This type of column can be seen on the Williamson Museum on Austin Avenue.
Blankenship’s other images include enlarged and abstracted elements from the Mesker pressed-metal cornices and window caps of the historic downtown buildings. Designs are from the Lockett, Dimmitt, Mileham, and Williamson County Sun buildings and the Georgetown Art Center. The three radiating circles at the bottom right of the mural “represent my family and the three energies we all have to balance in life and as artists from any background: Spiritual, intellectual and warrior,” she said.
Portrait artist Devon Clarkson chose to represent the impact of art education and the importance of engaging children in the process. Clarkson’s own children became the inspiration for the portraits in his section and are shown participating in the creation of the mural.
“My kids were the single most important reason I took a shot at art,” he said.
The second image chosen by Clarkson is an abstracted representation of the bridges in the community, a symbol that is uniquely Georgetown and reminiscent the area’s identification as the “Land of Good Water,” as the original settlements in the area were located where clear, natural spring waters were easily accessible.
For updates on the project, as well as information on other art and cultural events in the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District, visit arts.georgetown.org.
The City’s Arts and Culture Board has two new murals underway in Georgetown.
Animal Shelter—”Pick Me” mural
The “Pick Me” mural is expected to be completed March 28 at the Georgetown Animal Shelter, 110 W.L. Walden Drive.
The Georgetown Animal Shelter and Georgetown Arts and Culture Board selected artist Jason Tetlak of Jacksonville, Florida, in February to complete the mural.
Georgetown Title mural
Georgetown Title, in collaboration with the Arts and Culture Board, has selected Oakland, California, artist Molly Keen for the mural design that will be installed this spring.
The mural design “Railway Rhymes,” features abstract shapes and colors while highlighting a train element that represents the history of the site, which was once home to Belford Lumber Company and a stop on the railroad.
This project is the first commercial mural as part of the Percent for Public Art Adjacent to Capital Improvement Projects. The Georgetown Title building, 702 Rock St., is adjacent to two public improvements projects, including the Rock Street sidewalk improvements and the new Eighth Street parking lot. This program presents an opportunity for public art to beautify surrounding spaces that have become more visible to the public.
For more information about the projects, visit arts.georgetown.org.
Updated: The City of Georgetown will temporarily close some I-35 mainlanes north of Williams Drive March 28-April 1, to continue construction of the Northwest Boulevard bridge. The overnight lane closures will start each night at 9 p.m., with lanes expected to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. each morning. All work is weather permitting.
On Sunday and Monday, March 28-29, northbound I-35 will be reduced to one lane.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 30-31, all southbound I-35 mainlanes will be closed and northbound will be reduced to one lane. Southbound traffic will be diverted to the frontage road at the Williams Drive exit.
On Thursday, April 1, southbound I-35 will be reduced to one lane.
Road signs have been placed to alert drivers of the closures. Please use extra caution when traveling through the area.
The Northwest Boulevard bridge is scheduled to be complete this summer.
A global rail maintenance and rail services company plans to start construction later this year on an innovation center for research and development in Georgetown. Loram Technologies, formally GREX, expects to employ 310 people at the center after the expansion, including 150 new positions.
“The vision behind Loram Technologies Inc. is to build on GREX’s successful railroad technology solutions while harmonizing Loram’s mergers and acquisitions activity over the last several years,” Loram Technologies President Greg Grissom said. “By aligning global software, data, and engineering teams, we will accelerate new product development and bring our railroad customers the very best in next generation technology products and field services. Loram is also thrilled to bring further investment into Georgetown with a new state of the art office and manufacturing facility with construction starting in late 2021.”
Loram Maintenance of Way acquired Georgetown-based GREX in 2018. GREX changed its name to Loram Technologies on Jan. 1, 2021, and remains based in Georgetown. The parent company is headquartered in Hamel, Minn., has six global offices, and is a supplier of track maintenance equipment and services for freight railroads, transit systems, and commuter railroads.
Loram expects to invest $17 million in the Georgetown research and development center with an average salary of $60,000. A Georgetown Economic Development Corporation agreement with Loram approved by City Council at its Feb. 23 meeting includes a job retention and creation grant of $1,000 per job, plus an infrastructure reimbursement for a total incentive of $800,000 for the project.
“We are excited to be home to this research and manufacturing facility in Georgetown,” Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder said. “Expanding on the innovation of GREX, a home-grown rail technology company started by Ned Snead, is great. This center adds highly skilled jobs in our community and keeps us on track to strengthen our economy.”
City issues $48M debt issuance, no rate change for customers
Updated, March 24: The City of Georgetown issued about $48 million in a 10-year bond to pay for the unbudgeted energy costs incurred due to February’s winter storm. City Council in a special-called meeting March 2 directed staff to pay the debt over 10 years from electric utility revenues at current rates. Council approved the bond at its regular meeting March 23.
“Even as we got word on the exorbitant cost of energy while we were in the middle of the disaster, our focus was delivering electricity to our customers and controlling the variables we could,” Mayor Josh Schroeder said. “Another variable we have some control over is the burden placed on Georgetown electric customers as a result of this event, and the steps we took Tuesday will mitigate additional costs for our customers.”
As a result of the planned bond issuance, Georgetown electric customers will see no difference in their electric rates, despite the high energy costs during the storm. The City’s bill currently was due at the beginning of April 2021. Council and staff are committed to retiring this debt as soon as possible, while maintaining competitive rates for customers. Any changes to rates or the bond needed because of an amended bill will be brought before the council for discussion and direction.
At City Council direction, the City will use the existing power cost adjustment of $0.01375 per kilowatt hour to help cover the cost of the bond as it is paid back over 10 years. For the average residential customer, that amounts to about $10 a month. The current PCA generates about $6 million a year, which would cover the additional, annual debt payment of $5.3 million from the 10-year bond.
The City also is pursuing a surety policy to cover an additional $6.4 million in reserves, which may be required to maintain debt service coverage ratios after the costs from the winter storm. The one-time, up-front payment for the policy will be paid for using existing revenues.
Customers might have seen higher-than-normal electric bills for February due to increased usage. Even with the mandated power outages from ERCOT, heating and reheating of a home consumes considerable energy and is likely to result in higher bills this month. The City has multiple options to help you pay your electric bill, such as funding assistance through partner agencies and in-house customer programs you may qualify for. People can contact Customer Care at 512-930-3640 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss options.
The City currently owes about $48 million for energy used Feb. 14 through 20. About $21 million of that is for about 3,000 megawatt hours. The remaining 13,000 megawatt hours the City used during the storm were generated by providers at contracted rates. Roughly $27 million of what the City owes is for ancillary services, which are charges for reserve or on-demand power supply by ERCOT that cost as much as $25,000 per megawatt hour during the event. For context, the City paid $710,000 in ancillary services in all of 2020. The remaining $21 million is for energy costs, which peaked at $9,000 per megawatt hour. Last month, the average cost per megawatt hour was $20.79. The $9,000 per megawatt hour maximum price was in effect in the ERCOT market for 70 hours from Feb. 16 to 19.
“We’re still hopeful PUCT and legislators find solutions that will help alleviate the financial burden being placed on utilities across the state,” Schroeder said. “I encourage you to reach out to your state representatives and trust we will be doing the same.”
How will the recent winter storm affect my electric bill?
Georgetown rates will not change, but you could see higher bills due to usage.
While it is true that the wholesale price of power increased exponentially for all Texas electric utilities during February’s extreme weather, City of Georgetown electric customers will see no difference in their electric rates at this time. At the direction of City Council, the City of Georgetown took out a loan of about $48 million, to be paid by electric revenue over 10 years, to cover our unbudgeted energy costs from the storm. Interest on the loan will total about $5 million at a 1.73 percent interest rate. Any changes will be communicated publicly through this webpage, other City communications channels, and the media.
If your electric bill was higher than normal for this time of year, it likely was due to how much energy you used during the storm. Heating your home during cold weather uses a significant amount of energy, even more so if you experienced outages and needed to reheat your home. We know some of those outages were in response to ERCOT’s load shed/rotation outage requirements to protect the statewide electric grid from collapsing. We have multiple options to help you pay your electric bill, such as funding assistance through partner agencies and in-house customer programs you may qualify for.
The rest of this page provides more detail on what happened and answers to frequently asked questions about the situation.
Virtual Town Hall about electric costs
Watch the recording of the March 11 town hall. The event featured presentations and Q&A from Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder, City Manager David Morgan, and electric general manager Daniel Bethapudi.
Please note: This information is about City of Georgetown electric customers only. If you are a customer of Pedernales Electric Cooperative or Oncor, you will need to review their information or make contact with them to determine how the storm will affect your bill. Here is a map of the different electric service providers in Georgetown if you aren’t certain.
Electric bills and winter storm impact FAQ
Georgetown electric customers
All adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas beginning Monday, March 29. The Texas Department of State Health Services expects vaccine supplies to increase next week, and providers in multiple parts of the state have made great strides in vaccinating people in the current priority groups. The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations to protect as many Texans as possible.
Click here to join the Williamson County waitlist: https://bit.ly/38P8y74
Lake Georgetown is in Stage 1 Drought Watch as a result of drier than normal conditions in portions of the Brazos River basin and drought trigger levels set by the Brazos River Authority’s Drought Contingency Plan.
As of March 17, 2021, Lake Georgetown was at 67 percent of full capacity, according to the authority. Williamson County is also in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s March 18 update. Practicing wise water use now will help to ensure adequate water supply during the hotter summer months.
City of Georgetown water utility customers should make sure they follow the two-day watering schedule for irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers. The year-round, two-day per week irrigation schedule is based on the last digit of the street address.
The watering schedule is posted at gus.georgetown.org/water/whatsmyschedule.
Irrigation is not permitted on Mondays because they are a maintenance and recovery day for the water system. The two-day schedule spreads watering over six days each week in order to balance demand on the water system. Watering with a hand-held hose or bucket can be done any day and at any time. Other outdoor water uses like washing a vehicle or filling a swimming pool, can be done any day at any time.
Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines.
During the summer months, 75 percent of the drinking water treated each day in the city is used to irrigate lawns and landscapes. Following the City’s two-day watering schedule and adjusting irrigation run times can help save water and still maintain a healthy lawn.
While the City is not running out of water, conservation during the hottest and driest parts of the year helps ensure our shared resource is available for all who need it. The City also has several ongoing water utility expansion projects to help meet the needs of our growing population, including the Lake Water Treatment Plant expansion expected to be completed in summer 2023.
The best time for watering your lawn and landscape is on your watering day in the early morning hours after midnight. This allows the water to soak into the soil and reach the roots of your grass and plants. Watering during the heat of the day, especially between noon and 7 p.m., should be avoided since much of the water sprayed from sprinklers will evaporate and is wasted.
For help setting your irrigation controller, call customer care at 512-930-3640.
For more information on the Drought Contingency Plan, visit gus.georgetown.org/water/drought-information.