San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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February 8th, 2008
City updates rules for electronic signs

From staff reports

Adjustments to provisions of the code that regulates commercial signage allow for Changing Electronic Variable Signs within size and height restrictions.

The code previously prohibited “signs containing flashing, blinking or traveling lights, except for automatic changing signs which function as community information signs at least 50 percent of every hour.”Under the new rules, the signs are allowed on the interstate, state highways and major and minor arterial city streets. The message portion of the sign however cannot exceed 25 percent of the total sign area and the signs cannot be higher than 25 feet.

Additionally, electronic signs must be mounted on a low-lying monument-style pedestal, not a pole, on Wonder World Drive, Clovis Barker Drive, McCarty Lane, Farm-to-Market Road 110, Hunter Road, Centerpoint Road, Staples Road and any future extensions thereof.

Electronic signs will still be prohibited within 350 feet of residential property or that zoned neighborhood commercial, mixed use, historic, park, river or downtown.

DOWNLOADS

» Revised sign ordinance [pdf] » Summary of changes prepared for city council [pdf]

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» Police buy 11 cars for new patrol officers

The police department is buying 11 pursuit-equipped Ford Crown Victorias to outfit seven new patrol officer positions added to the force last year.

Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Carrollton won the $223,068.12 contract through a bid process administered by the state comptroller. Four of the cars will replace older vehicles being rotated out of regular use.

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» Council repeals obsolete ban on swimming beneath Spring Lake dam

An un-enforced ordinance that banned swimming in the San Marcos River between the Spring Lake dam and the Aquarena Springs Drive bridge is history.

The council unanimously repealed the 1999 law enacted when Texas State University was replacing a concrete spillway thought to be damaged in the 1998 floods. The popular swimming hole was fenced off for nearly two years during the repair project and became the focal point of pressure from locals on the university to ensure its administrators did not seek a permanent ban on swimming there. But the law remained on the books long after police stopped enforcing it and the symbolic fence was removed.

The repeal this week was prompted by the San Marcos resident who made international headlines in July 2005 when he was arrested immediately after saving a drowning man who had been swept by currents beneath what was then Joe’s Crab Shack, a former mill perched above the water. A charge of interfering with public duties was dropped a few days later amid a public outcry and cable news channel ridicule.

A retired corporate airline pilot who flew for the Saudi oil minister, Dave Newman, told the council, “Hundreds or thousands of people every year are in fact guilty — each and every one of them — of direct violation of this statute. Most people are not aware they are even violating the law.”

The repeal was sponsored by council members John Thomaides and Gaylord Bose.

— BRAD ROLLINS

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