During its regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 20, the Port Aransas City Council decided to not take action on a final report of regulation recommendations for Old Town presented by the Old Town Preservation Advisory Board.
Instead, the city’s governing body voted to direct the board to bring a different report back to council in November. That report would include a request to continue meeting after seeking direction from the Port Aransas Preservation & Historical Association.
“Before we make any decisions about 10 more meetings or anything like that, I think you guys need to come back and say, ‘We’re working with this group. We have some different ideas. We know what our goal is. Now we know what our mission is. Will you allow us to reboot?’” Mayor Wendy Moore said.
During its last meeting Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Old Town board approved a final report of regulation recommendations and an Old Town boundary for the City Council to consider. The proposed regulations addressed height restrictions for new construction, short-term rental occupancy, permeable surface and parking. (See story in Oct. 20 edition for more.)
Before the vote, Patt Coeckelenbergh, co-chair of the board, requested that the council table the board’s final report to allow the board to meet once more and make changes. She said she and other board members were under the impression the board would meet one more time and be able to review the final report in writing before the report went to the council’s October meeting.
“As a volunteer, what I would like to present to you is something that we can be proud of. I’m not proud of what this is,” Coeckelenbergh told the council. “We were expecting to be able to meet the second Tuesday at 3 o’clock. And at that point, we were going to revise what Mr. Adams brought back.”
Rick Adams, Development Services director, said he submitted the final report to go to council because the board voted to proceed with the final report.
“I scribed exactly what they asked,” Adams said. “That was a final report. It was emailed out along with the boundary map to all the members.”
Coeckelenbergh and Cathy Fulton, another board member, told council they wanted to review the regulation recommendation that would add a height limit of 32 feet for new construction or encourage the use of “bulk plane” construction techniques.
City Manager David Parsons said the height regulation recommendation, or any recommendation that calls for changes to the city’s chapter 25 zoning ordinance, would go before the planning and zoning committee, as per state law, before being reviewed by council.
“It would be p and z that would come up with all the do’s and don’ts of how the bulk plane would be administered and codified. Not this committee,” Parsons said.
Councilwoman Jo Ellyn Krueger said some of the recommendations, such as the ones proposing regulations for permeable surfaces and short-term rentals, shouldn’t be in the board’s final report because those kinds of requirements would need to apply to the entire city.
“So they were trying to set an Old Town boundary, and they were told they needed restrictions in there,” she said. “They were trying to set a boundary so they could do some historic work in within that boundary. So it just kind of got off track.”
One of the initiatives of the board is to encourage homeowners of houses at least 50 years old to look into applying to have their home placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fulton said the board never had a chance to get to the “heart” of the discussion on how to get the word out about the National Register. (See story in Oct. 12 edition for more.)
Coeckelenbergh read part of the city charter to council that states boards, commissions and committees created by the council will elect a chairman, who would call when the group would meet. Parsons responded saying that the Old Town board is an ad-hoc board and not enumerated in the city charter like the planning and zoning commission.
“So they are not like a structured board … that’s listed in the charter,” he said. “They are an ad-hoc committee, that is tenured by the City Council. They do not make their own rules.”
Parsons said the Port Aransas Preservation & Historical Association should be involved with and leading the Old Town board. No PAPHA members are on the advisory board.
“These items that are on here that they’ve come up with, this is not preservation, this is more STR regulations,” Parsons said. “It makes no sense that PAPHA isn’t the one taking the lead on this.”