Volente remembers incorporation

Barely half of Volente's residents approved incorporation in February 2003, but many residents have come around to the idea of being a village 10 years later.

"I was opposed to incorporation," said Roger Shull, president of the Volente-based Anderson Mill Garden Club. "Now, I'm happy that we incorporated because it's helped control growth in the village, which is good from my standpoint."

Volente voters favored incorporation 170–146 on Feb. 1, 2003, and the process was finalized Feb. 18. The village held its first election May 3, 2003, when Jan Yenawine was named Volente's first mayor. The village has experienced modest growth in the decade since, steadily climbing from approximately 400 to 520 residents as of the 2010 census, providing a steady stream of revenue for the mostly residential village.

Growth may have been tempered by stricter-than-usual ordinances, including a 20 percent maximum impervious cover requirement. Austin restricts impervious cover to 40 percent to 55 percent on residential zoning.

"Ordinances are always a work in progress, especially in a small city," current Volente Mayor Justine Blackmore-Hlista said. "We're 100 percent willing to work with people who will work with us."

Blackmore-Hlista said the same is true of prospective new businesses interested in establishing themselves in Volente. Environmental and financial restrictions prevented the village in 2012 from re-establishing VJs Grocery and Cafe, a centrally located market that closed five years ago.

"Back when we first moved here in 1995, it really was the center," Shull said. "Everyone went there."

The mayor said she is still hopeful someone can re-establish the VJs site or create a community center to host village-wide events.

"We want to be business-friendly," Blackmore-Hlista said. "The businesses also need to be community-friendly because every business is basically surrounded by residential neighborhoods."

One existing business, Volente Boat Club, last summer bought out its franchise to make Volente the Nautical Toys International's national headquarters. Owner Tom Gardiner said his is one among many business success stories in Volente despite a looming drought depleting neighboring Lake Travis.

"It certainly hasn't helped, but our business has either stayed the same or increased almost every year," Gardiner said. "Our members know there's plenty of water out there."

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.