Keeping tabs on home-operated businesses and finding solutions to traffic problems at key intersections kept Kerrville City Council members busy in their workshop Tuesday.
Discussion of a proposed amendment to the zoning code regarding home occupations dominated most of the two-hour session.
The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the amendment in October. At that time, Sabine Kuenzel, chief planning officer, said asking home businesses to register and follow regulations is a proactive way to address the issue of maintaining healthy residential neighborhoods.
Home businesses in Kerrville are now administered and regulated by a definition in the zoning code. It does not restrict the type of dwelling unit in which a home business can operate — single-family, duplex, apartment, etc. — or restrict home businesses to any specific zoning district.
Council members primarily questioned three aspects of the proposal:
- No fees for registration as a home occupation.
- That all employees must live in the home.
- And whether adding restrictions to existing residential zoning codes could accomplish the same outcome.
Councilman Warren Ferguson questioned why home business owners do not have to pay a registration fee when the process will cost the city money.
Not requiring a fee is meant to encourage registration and build a more complete inventory of home businesses, Kuenzel said. In turn, not sending personnel to check for information already in hand could save the city time and money.
Mayor Bonnie White asked how many home businesses exist in the city.
“They are few and far between,” said Kuenzel.
“The bigger point is we don’t have a good tool if we do have an issue (with a home business) where we need that tool,” she added. While it is rare for the city to issue a citation — “potential violators usually come into compliance” — the existing definition of home occupations does not provide the means to accomplish that.
The standard for taking a complaint to court is to “prove it beyond reasonable doubt,” said City Attorney Mike Hayes. “That’s a high standard. I know our judges. I know our standards. I felt at the time (the amendment was prepared) we needed to pull this out and put it in its own section.”
Mayor White brought up an example of a man who managed his business with the help of a non-resident person hired to help with clerical work. “I imagine that would be an issue” with the proposed regulations, she said.
Councilman George Baroody noted that the goal is to preserve the residential character of a neighborhood.
“Any legal activity done completely within the confines of the property that are not perceptible from the outside of the property — sight, sound, smell, basically — should not be a concern of the city.”
“Just take the regulations that we are putting under home occupations and apply them to residential zoning. We prohibit this activity in a residential zone,” he said.
McDaniel pointed out that while “a person’s home is their castle,” if they begin to use the residence to make money and create nuisance issues, they are prospering at the expense of their neighbors.
While the home occupations ordinance is scheduled for a first reading before the council in January, McDaniel said the council can postpone that reading.
GKW Engineering President Angel Gonzales presented the results of a study on eight problem intersections in the city.
For the corridor along Schreiner Street, from Francisco Lemos to Washington Street, they recommend restriping Schreiner to create one traffic lane in each direction with a continuous left-turn lane the whole distance.
Approximate cost for resurfacing, striping and signage would be $140,000.
For the signaled intersection at Hays Street and Schreiner Street, the GKW engineers recommend retiming off-peak programming, and calibrating detection cameras.
An option presented for improving the Schreiner and Clay intersection (where Schreiner curves) involves installing a roundabout for about $85,000.
Gonzales noted the traffic light at Earl Garrett and Water streets, operated by the city, is not synchronized with the light at Water and Sidney Baker, operated by the Texas Department of Transportation.
The engineers recommend installing detectors at Water and Earl Garrett, and having the traffic light there work in coordination with the light at Sidney Baker. The city is already working with the state on that situation. No cost estimate was provided.
At Water and G streets, where traffic backs up coming up from the G Street river crossing, the engineers recommend making it a four-way stop, and adding left-turn lanes in the middle on all approaches.
That work would cost about $45,000.
For three mini-roundabouts on Riverhill Boulevard — at Winged Foot and Canterbury lanes, and Turnberry Circle — the recommendation is to lower the outer ring, making it possible for vehicles to ride up over them, and remove the inner planter structures. Estimated cost is $25,000 each, for a total of $75,000 for all three.
McDaniel noted that while the city has not assigned funds to address these traffic issues in the 2018 budget, there might be enough funds for less expensive work, such as painting traffic stripes.
Assistant City Manager E.A. Hoppe said the city will compare the cost of doing the work with city employees versus hiring outside contractors.