Rollingwood officials extend original disaster declaration by 30 days

Rollingwood City Council met for a special meeting March 25. (Community Impact Staff)
Rollingwood City Council met for a special meeting March 25. (Community Impact Staff)

Rollingwood City Council met for a special meeting March 25. (Community Impact Staff)

The city of Rollingwood held a special meeting March 25 and voted to extend by 30 days a disaster declaration originally issued March 18.

The March 18 declaration was operational for seven days and authorized officials to commandeer or use any private property or temporarily acquire by lease or other means sites for temporary housing units or emergency shelters for evacuees, subject to compensation requirements.
Under the declaration, the city is also authorized “to take any actions necessary to promote health and suppress disease, including quarantine, examining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress from the city and fining those who do not comply with the city’s rules.”

Any violation of the rules within the declaration constitute a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.

City Attorney Charles Zech clarified that Rollingwood's declaration of disaster gives mayors discretion to implement certain restrictions associated with the disaster.

"The extension continues the disaster declaration for the period of time that [council] determined to extend it," Zech said. "It also extends the mayor's plenary powers ... to act independently to meet any fluid situation."

Cities may only make restrictions more strict than the county's restrictions and may not lessen Travis County's order, Zech said, adding that Rollingwood's declaration is important for two reasons: It allows for more funding for the city for expenses related to the disaster, and it allows the mayor to act on a local level in response to the disaster.

Dyson and council also discussed the need to halt commercial construction within city limits, at least for the next couple of weeks.

"It's just kind of one of these things where we're trying to figure out how to balance out the health and safety of the greater community," Dyson said.

The idea right now, Dyson said, is to contact contractors and let them know city officials are working on determining what exact residential construction restrictions are in place based on county orders, and hopefully, projects can wrap up by Friday, March 27. Contractors may then speak with city officials, who will determine how to move forward with construction projects on a case-by-case basis, he said.

As Rollingwood officials work to get their questions answered regarding county restrictions, the city's communications with contractors will come absent clarification from Travis County officials, and it is better to err on the side of caution, he said.

"Obviously, we want to preserve all kinds of loss," Dyson said. "Some of these projects are very close to completion ... within a few weeks. So shutting them down for a few weeks could actually exacerbate problems for a few of our citizens unnecessarily."
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.