The Demographic Analysis is a comprehensive profile of Blanco that includes information on key social and economic statistics such as population growth, industries, housing, and workforce trends that are key to understanding Blanco. The purpose of this report is to provide community leaders with unbiased information about strengths and challenges of the community for strategic discussions about the future of Blanco. The analysis is divided into four parts: demographic and socioeconomic factors, employment and industry, infrastructure and transportation linkages, and quality of life.
All of the data collected for this analysis was compiled from published information including: federal, state, and local government agencies and private sources.
Land Use Plan
The land use plan addresses the current and future development of Blanco. It identifies how land is currently being used, and provides a model for how Blanco should grow over time. Land use is an integral part of the plan because it impacts so many other factors. If there is not enough land identified for industrial or commercial uses, there will not be adequate economic development. If appropriate land is not identified for housing, it will stifle the availability of housing at varying price ranges. By laying out where development should occur, city leaders can make informed decisions when confronted with subdivision requests. It will also ensure that the quality of life in Blanco is protected by focusing growth of different types in the most suitable areas. The future land use map will also form the basis for zoning if Blanco moves forward with that.
The growth management plan lays out what policies can be implemented in Blanco to ensure that growth occurs on local terms rather than having it dictated by outside forces. The recommendations from the growth management plan relate to updating and enforcing existing ordinances, particularly the subdivision ordinance, to protect the quality of life in Blanco. Another consideration is for the city to adopt a zoning ordinance. This would give city leaders authority over land use decisions rather than depending on developers. City leaders can use the ordinance to guide industrial and commercial development to the most suitable areas, while buffering residences from any negative impact. The plan also addresses infrastructure concerns and recommends a policy of benchmarks to ensure the city budgets for infrastructure improvements in advance of their actual need. Finally, the plan addresses the need to preserve open space to maintain rural character. This includes small parks throughout Blanco, as well as maintaining agricultural lands in the area. Implementing this plan will protect quality of life, and enhance Blanco's ability to attract appropriate economic development.
Community development is geared towards improving the quality of life in Blanco. It is a cornerstone of the plan because it addresses issues that are common to all residents. Community development is a precursor to any type of economic development because it prepares a community to attract new businesses and help make existing ones more successful. This section of the plan focuses on developing safe pedestrian access throughout Blanco, particularly around schools, providing recreational amenities for all ages, and creating a city-wide network of parks and open space. These goals will create substantial benefit for residents by providing access to wide and varied activities to increase health and community involvement. A key benefit of this plan is that it does not rely on city government to provide all the necessary funding or other resources. Local non-profits, developers, and others are tasked with implementing aspects of the plan. This is critical because of the limited resources of city government.
Many residents in Blanco currently travel to Austin, San Antonio, or other community for work. By implementing the economic development plan, Blanco can build on its strengths to create jobs locally for its current and expected residents. The plan lays out policies and actions that can be undertaken to improve the economic climate in the city. This includes developing additional retail to serve local residents, strengthening the Chamber of Commerce to take a more active role in economic development, building on the tourism potential, and attracting a retirement village. Blanco currently does not have an economic developer on staff, it will likely fall to the Chamber to lead this effort. To be successful, any economic development plan has to start with existing businesses and ensuring their continued success. Implementing this plan will generate additional sales and property tax to benefit local government. It will also benefit residents by generating more jobs and by helping to keep tax rates low by increasing overall revenues.
Downtown Blanco is the heart of the community. It serves as a meeting place, provides business services to residents, and attracts visitors through its historic architecture. The downtown plan is intended to build on the strengths of the Square to create a true destination for Blanco. This dovetails with the economic development plan because the Square serves a role for both local retail and tourism. The plan involves a multi-faceted approach to downtown improvements including both public projects such as road and parking improvements, creating a Downtown Committee at the Chamber, helping business owners maintain and improve their buildings, and holding regular events downtown. Some of this is already underway, there is currently Market Days held regularly on the Square and plans are underway to hold a Lavender Festival in 2005. Also, TXDoT will be paving and restriping 4th Street, and a public parking lot is being built by a downtown building owner. All of these projects are important to the overall effort to improve downtown and create a positive atmosphere for change. One important aspect of any downtown projects will be the need for coordination among different groups, business and property owners, and others to ensure all projects are supported and provide benefit to the area.
Historic preservation is critical to the success of the downtown plan, and to enhance the economic development plan. Blanco is fortunate to have significant historic structures and sites in and around the city. Heritage and agricultural tourism are becoming very popular, and by protecting its historic assets, Blanco can benefit from this trend. The first project is to develop a complete inventory of existing historic assets throughout Blanco, building on the existing Historic District centered on downtown. Additional projects include developing design guidelines to ensure development fits in the existing framework, updating the historic preservation ordinance, and creating a program of assistance for building owners to improve their buildings. All of these efforts are designed to enhance Blanco's image and maximize the benefit of its historic assets for economic and community development.
Stormwater runoff constitutes the vast majority of all water pollution. The stormwater assessment defines existing conditions in Blanco related to water quality. It identifies actions to be undertaken to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality. This includes maintaining drainageways throughout Blanco, educating residents on the importance of water quality, and working to minimize erosion on area creeks and rivers. This is an important component of the plan because it relates to so many elements. As Blanco grows, it will be critical to protect water quality and quantity through the recommendations of the stormwater assessment.
The Implementation Guide is the most important section of the entire plan. This is where the specifics for making things happen is found. The implementation guide lays out the goals, objectives, and detailed actions for addressing the issues from the plan. It also identifies timelines for when things should happen, who is responsible, and stakeholders to consider. This is the section that should be required reading for all City Council members, and given to new Council members as they are elected. This will allow them to determine how city resources should be spent to meet the priorities of the citizens of Blanco.
The Comprehensive Plan by itself is nothing more than a collection of words. However, it represents an important step in Blanco becoming the community its residents desire. The key to this plan is that it is based on a foundation of public involvement. It was not created by outsiders working in a vacuum; rather it utilizes the concerns of Blanco residents to identify what they feel is most critical to Blanco's prosperity. This is a very ambitious plan; however, it draws on the resources of the entire community rather than relying on just city government, which means all residents have the opportunity and responsibility to participate in creating Blanco's future. If the citizens come together behind this plan, that they in fact created, and work together, there is nothing they cannot achieve. If the plan is left to gather dust, Blanco will not realize the aspirations of its residents.