Georgetown Re-certified a Scenic City

Scenic City gold logo For the second time in five years, Georgetown was recently certified as a gold-level Scenic City by Scenic Texas. Georgetown was initially certified as a gold-level Scenic City in 2010 and was one of 20 cities to be certified or re-certified this summer.

Georgetown is one of 58 cities in Texas to be certified as a Scenic City. Georgetown was presented with its Gold Scenic City Certification on September 24 at the Texas Municipal League annual conference in San Antonio.

The Scenic City Certification Program incorporates a comprehensive set of model standards for design and development of public roadways and public spaces into a cohesive assessment program. The program draws a direct correlation between the success of a city’s economic development efforts and the visual appearance of its public spaces and recognizes municipalities that implement high-quality scenic standards.

The Scenic City program includes a variety of criteria such as parkland designation, landscaping, historic preservation, sign restrictions, litter prevention, and other standards for public places. Achieving the Scenic City certification recognizes regulations and programs that improve property values and help to attract new businesses. Cities that qualify earn a five-year certification.

“Georgetown’s Scenic City Certification demonstrates its commitment to high-quality standards for public roadways and public spaces,” said Anne Culver, executive director of the Scenic City Certification Program. “This enhances Georgetown’s image which in turn drives economic development.”

Scenic City group 1b web

City employees who contributed to the Scenic City certification effort are (pictured left to right): Laurie Brewer, Kimberly Garrett, Jackson Daly, Nat Waggoner, Julie Dominguez, Karen Frost, and Mike Stasny.

Scenic Texas, the sponsor of the certification program, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the visual character of Texas by promoting enhanced design standards for public projects, sign regulation, freeway landscaping, and scenic byway development. Find out more at www.scenictexas.org.

Sidewalk Master Plan Receives Two Awards

The Sidewalk Master Plan will receive an award from the Central Texas American Planning Association. The award for Best Long Range Plan of 2015 will be presented at the association’s annual awards event on September 26 in Bastrop.

In October, the plan will be recognized during the annual conference of the American Planning Association Texas Chapter in Galveston.

“This plan includes a comprehensive assessment of our 144-mile sidewalk network,” says Ed Polasek, transportation services director for the City of Georgetown. “It prioritizes community-voiced needs and emphasizes collaboration with our school district, county, and regional transportation partners.”

The Sidewalk Master Plan, which was finalized last year, includes sidewalk projects for the next 10 years. Transportation bonds approved by Georgetown voters in May authorize $10 million for pedestrian accessibility in the next 10 years.

To view the interactive Sidewalk Master Plan or nominate sidewalk network issues in Georgetown city limits, please visit SidewalksAndFacilities.Georgetown.org.

Street Resurfacing August 6 – 21

Street resurfacing with a chip seal treatment on several Georgetown roads is scheduled for August 6 – 21 in the area south of University Ave as shown in the map.

Chip seal resurfacing involves applying a layer of emulsion to the roadway followed by a layer of small-sized gravel. Unless otherwise noted, the entire length of the roadway will be resurfaced.  The chip seal wear surface will extend the life span of the asphalt on the street by slowing oxidation and sealing cracks in the asphalt. This will also help defer costly street reconstruction.

Chip sealing operations will begin after 7:30 a.m. and will end by 5 p.m. each day. Look for electronic message boards or door flyers in the neighborhood with information about the resurfacing schedule.

This schedule is weather-dependent and could be changed if there is rain.

Drivers should expect delays and look for flaggers in a moving work area. Drivers should reduce their speed and increase the spacing distance between vehicles to reduce problems with loose rock on roadway.

Following the application of the chip seal, street sweeping will occur within 24 to 48 hours to sweep up any loose chips. Once the sweeping operation has been completed a sealing material called Fast Set will be applied to the chip seal surface. The Fast Set sealant will require a drying time of 20 to 30 minutes prior to being open to traffic.

The sealant will improve the driving surface and increase protection from the weather. Public notification about the street sealant work will be done before work starts.

National Register Historic District Expansions at HARC June 25

An expansion of the Williamson County Courthouse National Register Historic District will be considered at a meeting of the Historic and Architectural Review Commission on June 25. The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber and Court Building at 101 E. Seventh Street.

The proposal before HARC includes the expansion of the Williamson County Courthouse National Register Historic District to include historic properties in all four directions, as well as the creation of a new Forest Street National Register Historic District.

The Courthouse district currently includes the Courthouse block and portions of seven blocks adjacent to the Courthouse that contain historic structures. The expanded district also would include properties around the perimeter of the current district and extend three blocks to the south to University Avenue.

The new Forest Street National Register Historic District would include the area roughly bound by Ninth Street on the north, Rock Street on the east, University Avenue on the south, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Street on the west.

Maps of the historic district expansions are attached.

Williamson Co Courthouse HD

Forest Street HD

The National Register historic district expansions would not alter local zoning districts such as the Downtown Overlay District. The expansions also would not have an impact on the Downtown Design Guidelines or other rules governing the development or redevelopment of properties in downtown Georgetown.

The City project to assess and update the National Register historic districts began in October. Steph McDougal of McDoux Preservation was hired by the City to conduct the project. Previous meetings on the historic district expansions were held in November, March, and on June 15.

The expansion of the Williamson County Courthouse National Register Historic District and the creation of the Forest Street National Register Historic District would allow contributing structures in those districts to qualify for state and federal tax credits. The new State of Texas franchise tax credit for historic preservation became available in January. The state tax incentive allows property owners to receive a tax credit of 25 percent of qualifying expenses for rehabilitating a historic building. A federal historic tax credit for historic preservation includes up to 20 percent of qualifying expenses for commercial structures. In order to qualify for the federal program and the new state program, properties must be individually listed on the National Register or classified as “contributing” to a National Register historic district. Properties that are currently classified as noncontributing, but would become contributing as a result of tax-credit funded projects, are also eligible.

If the proposal to expand the Courthouse district and to create a new Forest Street district is approved by HARC, then the expansions would be submitted to the Texas Historical Commission and to the National Park Service for approval.

This project is being funded in part through a certified local government grant from the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, as administered by the Texas Historical Commission.

For more information about the City of Georgetown’s historic preservation programs or the current National Register historic districts, visit historic.georgetown.org or contact Matt Synatschk at (512) 930-3581 or Matt.Synatschk@georgetown.org.

Historic District Expansions Proposed at Meeting June 15

Creation of a new Forest Street Historic District and expansion of the existing Williamson County Courthouse Historic District are two recommendations of a report on the National Register Historic Districts in Georgetown. Highlights of the report will be presented in a public meeting on Monday, June 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Georgetown Communication and Technology Building, 510 W. Ninth Street.

The City project to assess and update the National Register Historic Districts began in October. One goal of the project is to ensure that as many property owners as possible would be eligible for the new State of Texas tax credits for historic preservation. Previous meetings included a kick-off public meeting to introduce the project last year on November 5 and a workshop on March 17 to provide detailed information about the new tax credit program.

The City of Georgetown hired historic preservation consultant Steph McDougal, of McDoux Preservation, a Houston-area firm, to review the four historic districts that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s and 1980s. McDougal determined that the Williamson County Courthouse Historic District boundaries could be expanded to include buildings constructed in the 1935 to 1965 period known as the “highway era.”

She also has recommended the creation of a new historic district in the Forest Street area, south of downtown. That potential new district was first identified in the 2007 survey of historic resources conducted by Hardy-Heck-Moore, an Austin consulting firm. The 2007 survey also recommended the creation of the Olive Street Historic District, which was listed on the National Register in 2013.

McDougal and City Historic Planner Matt Synatschk will be on hand to explain the project, findings, recommendations, and next steps. They will answer questions and have handouts about the proposals.

The new State of Texas franchise tax credit for historic preservation became available in January 2015. The state tax incentive allows property owners to receive a tax credit worth 25 percent of the qualifying expenses associated with rehabilitating a historic building.

In the past, many Georgetown property owners have taken advantage of the federal historic tax credit for historic preservation, which equals up to 20 percent of qualifying project expenses. In order to qualify for the federal program and the new state program, properties must be individually listed on the National Register or classified as “contributing” to a national register historic district.

When the four Georgetown historic districts were listed on the National Register in the 1970s and 1980s, many buildings were either excluded from the district or listed as non-contributing because they were not yet 50 years old. Today, that period can be extended by 30 to 40 years to 1965, potentially enabling many more Georgetown property owners to take advantage of the tax credits.

This project is being funded in part through a certified local government grant from the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, as administered by the Texas Historical Commission.

For more information about the City of Georgetown’s historic preservation programs or the current National Register historic districts, visit historic.georgetown.org or contact Matt Synatschk at (512) 930-3581 or Matt.Synatschk@georgetown.org.

HARC Amendments to UDC: Public Meeting on March 12

The City seeks public input on proposed revisions to the regulations that govern the City’s historic resources at a public meeting on March 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the City Council Chamber, 101 E. Seventh Street. Changes would affect items reviewed by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission.

The proposed changes to the Unified Development Code affect property in the Downtown and Old Town Overlay districts, as well as certain property listed in the City’s Historic Resource Survey.

Primary changes to the existing regulations include:

  • Designation of local Historic Landmarks
  • Clarification of regulations that apply to contributing versus non-contributing historic structures to a Historic Overlay District
  • Clarification on review processes for alterations, removals , demolition, and new construction, as well as certain site features such as signage and fences, to include review by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission and historic preservation officer

The proposed revisions are listed at georgetown.org/udc/harc-amendments.

The proposed UDC amendments have been presented at a HARC workshop last year on October 23, at a City Council workshop on October 28, at a public meeting on January 22, at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on February 3, at a City Council meeting on February 10, and at a HARC meeting on February 26.

Future steps include a workshop with the City Council on March 24, first reading of the amendments ordinance at City Council on April 14, and second reading of the amendments ordinance at City Council on April 28.

Public input is invited at each of these meetings, and online at cityofgeorgetowntx.formstack.com/forms/proposed_harc_udc_amendments.

HARC Amendments to UDC Meeting on January 22

The City is seeking public input on revisions to the code that governs the downtown district. Changes to the Unified Development Code related to the Historic and Architectural Review Commission will be presented at a public meeting on January 22 at 5 p.m. at the City Council Chamber, 101 E. Seventh Street. Online review and feedback on the proposed changes also is available at georgetown.org/udc/harc-amendments.

The proposed changes to the UDC are for property in the Downtown and Old Town Overlay districts, as well as certain property listed in the City’s Historic Resource Survey.  A draft of the proposed revisions to the UDC can be seen at georgetown.org/udc/harc-amendments.

The main changes proposed include the following areas:

  • Designation of local Historic Landmarks
  • Clarification of regulations that apply to contributing versus non-contributing historic structures to a Historic Overlay District
  • Clarification on review processes for alterations, removals , demolition, and new construction, as well as certain site features such as signage and fences, to include review by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission and historic preservation officer
  • Clarification on the zoning development standards that apply to property located in a Historic Overlay District

The City seeks input on the proposed changes from property and business owners, City commission and board members, neighborhood residents, elected officials, and other members of the public. To facilitate public input, the following public meetings have been scheduled to take place in the Council Chambers at 101 E. Seventh Street in Georgetown:

  • January 22 at 5 p.m. – Open public meeting
  • February 3 at 6 p.m. – Planning and Zoning Commission meeting,  recommendation to City Council
  • February 10 at 6 p.m. – City Council meeting, first reading of the ordinance
  • February 24 at 6 p.m. – City Council meeting, second reading of the ordinance

Public comment is invited at each of these steps in the public review process for the proposed changes to the UDC.

Public Hearings for Voluntary Annexations

The City Council is considering six voluntary annexations at the July 8th and July 22nd meetings. Council will consider action on these items on August 12th and a second reading to be determined. Most of the described properties below are being annexation in anticipation of future development.  Below are the properties with a location map of each:

  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 753.3 acres in the Perry, Thompson, Donagan, and Stubblefield Surveys, to be known as Wolf Ranch Hillwood, generally located at West University Avenue and Wolf Ranch Parkway. ANX-2014-006_Location
  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 406.3 acres in the Eaves Survey, to be known as Sun City, Queens Tract, located on Highway 195 near Sun City Boulevard. ANX-2014-005_Location
  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 768.9 acres in the Foy and Dyches Surveys, to be known as Sun City, Somerset Hills Tract, located near CR 245 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard. ANX-2014-004_Location
  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 54.54 acres of right-of-way for the future Southwest Bypass and Wolf Ranch Parkway. ANX-2014-003_Location
  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 10.76 acres in the Stubblefield and Thompson Surveys, located near DB Wood Road, for First Baptist Church Georgetown. ANX-2014-008_Location
  • Public Hearing for the Voluntary Annexation of 41.57 acres in the Roberts Survey, located off of Shell Road, to be known as the Hills at Georgetown Village. ANX-2014-007_Location

Capital Improvement Projects Proposed for 2015

Learn about proposed transportation and utility infrastructure projects in Georgetown for the upcoming fiscal year.

Citizens are encouraged to view the proposed City of Georgetown 2015 Capital Improvement Plan summary to be presented to the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board and Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board on Friday, May 9, 2014 (linked to below).

Projects in the proposed Capital Improvement Plan for 2015 include street overlay and street reconstruction projects, curb and drainage improvements, water line upgrades, wastewater system improvements, and electric system improvements.

Both the Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board and the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board will make a recommendation on the 2015 Capital Improvement Plan to the City Council at their respective Friday, May 9, 2014 meetings. The CIP is scheduled for review and approval by the city council in June as an element of the overall 2014/15 city budget.

All Capital Improvement Plan documents can be viewed at the following location: http://records.georgetown.org/weblink8/0/fol/421931/Row1.aspx

Questions about or comments on the proposed capital improvement projects for 2015 can be emailed to cipcomments@georgetown.org.

Georgetown 3rd on Best American Suburbs Ranking

A recent analysis of 75 cities in the top 25 U.S. metro areas ranked Georgetown third on the list. The top ten list of America’s Best Suburbs, placing Georgetown at no. 3 in the country, was done by Movoto, a real estate company in California. The ranking was based on several factors including shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings as well as cost of living, low crime, education, and employment.

The article notes that Georgetown’s crime rate is 45 percent below the national average and that the cost of living is nearly 9 percent lower than the national average. The article also cites Georgetown’s low student-to-teacher ratio.

Movoto provided an explanation of the appeal of the major metro cities on the list. “These smaller cities and towns offer proximity to everything their larger neighbors have to offer, while oftentimes being safer and less crowded.”

“This ranking is a wonderful tribute to our history, our vitality, our values and our fantastic citizens,” says Mayor George Garver. “Good schools, good public safety personnel, and a great living environment make this city very desirable. We take pride in this ranking knowing that others have discovered what we already know about Georgetown—it’s a great place to live.”

The ranking was based on an analysis of data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To see the list of the 10 best American suburbs, as well as the full ranking of metro 75 cities, go to http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/best-suburban-cities-in-america.