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Environmental Board: MUD needs to explain how it will clean up

Thursday, September 3, 2009 by Austin Monitor

A massive mixed-use development project in North Austin will have to do a better job of explaining to the city’s Environmental Board how its planned sewer system will treat wastewater.


On Wednesday evening, the board voted unanimously to postpone approval of water and sewer lines for a 325-acre development dubbed the Village at Northtown, situated south of Wells Branch Parkway and north of Howard Lane east of I-35. Cunningham-Allen, the local engineering firm heading up the project, was also seeking a variance to allow development within the city’s Critical Water Quality Zone.


Wastewater treatment for the proposed development is to be provided by the Northtown Municipal Utility District, with the new sewage lines connecting a system built decades ago. No one from the Northtown MUD was on hand Wednesday to answer board members’ questions about how the process of adding new lines to an older system would work, or what assurances there might be that the watershed would be protected.


“If Northtown is going to be the MUD that’s responsible for this line, then I have concerns on a personal level,” said board member Phil Moncada, who initially objected to staff’s recommendation of approval at the beginning of the meeting.


Ruben Lopez, a representative of Cunningham-Allen, told the board that the planned development would consist of more than 117 acres for multi-family homes, more than 86 acres for single-family homes, and more than 55 acres of retail development.


“What kind of impact will a development of this density have on a watershed whose quality is already poor?” said board member Rodney Ahart, noting that the proposed development falls within the Harris Branch Watershed. “With more development, will those (watershed quality) scores continue to go down?”


The board voted 6-0 to postpone a decision on the development, and requested more information at the next hearing, including someone from the Northtown MUD to answer questions about wastewater treatment.

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