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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Subdivision moves forward despite flood plain, road access qualms
A case normally dispatched by the Zoning and Platting Commission on its consent agenda took on an adversarial tone Tuesday night, as residents near a planned subdivision complained about potential flood dangers and loss of access to their property. Commission members, who have almost no discretion in subdivision cases, had no choice but to approve the Knollwood on the Colorado River project despite the residents’ concerns.
The preliminary site plan for the project, situated about a mile east of Longhorn Dam, is on the banks of the Colorado River near Hornsby Bend east of US 183 South. Developers are planning 267 single-family home lots on just less than 92 acres.
ZAP Chair Betty Baker had placed the item on the commission’s consent agenda but was informed by staff that two citizens had signed up to speak on the topic. Baker reminded the speakers that the commission has, by law, no choice but to approve subdivision cases as long as they meet certain legal standards.
Coy Silker, who said he currently lives on property near the Knollwood project, said that it would become difficult, if not impossible, to get in and out of the area if and when US 183 is turned into a toll road.
“The exit off of Smith Road dead ends onto the 183 access road,” he said. “Even now, it can take a fair amount of time with the traffic to get on to 183 from there. What’s it going to be like when 267 other families are trying to get out at the same time every morning?”
Carol Cardozo, who owns property in the area on Hester Road, said she had concerns that her water well is sitting on a property line.
“How am I going to have safe drinking water if my neighbors decide to kill their fire ants?” she asked. “It will take more than 800 feet of line to extend city water to my property. That’s going to cost more money than I have.”
Cardozo also expressed concern about getting into and out of the area, and pointed to a map showing that the road leading out of the subdivision is in the 100-year floodplain.
“That might mean we could be cut off from emergency services by a heavy rainstorm,” she said. “What can be done about that?”
The sad news, according to Baker, was that there is not much the city can do about the US 183 situation.
“That is up to the Texas Department of Transportation, and we have no control over what they do, now or in the future,” said Baker. “TxDOT has a lot of people waiting to hear what they plan to do.”
Developer’s representative Ken Blaker assured the commission that there would be adequate access to the area, but echoed Baker’s comments about TxDOT.
“We have no control over what the state is going to do along 183,” he said. “It will be up to them how the entrance to the access road is designed. And to our knowledge, none of the roads are in the flood plain.”
Blaker did say his company would be glad to add a stub to the water line extension in front of Cardozo’s property so she could connect to the city water system at a future date.
However, despite the concerns expressed by the residents, and after a final check with Don Perryman of the Watershed Protection and Development Review Department that the subdivision request met all city codes, the Commission approved the project on a 7-1 vote. Commissioner Joseph Martinez voted no.
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