About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Travis County officials eye deal with developers
Developers for a large area of land in eastern
But roads are not the only concern. Two Travis County Commissioners had questions Tuesday about the water supply for least one of the pending developments.
Anna Bowlin, a division director with
Attorney Terry Irion represents the group behind the Eastwood development. In a March 11 letter, he wrote that officials from that project as well as the Wolf tract,
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a preliminary plan for the Eastwood subdivision. If completed, that project would be built between FM 973 and
As part of their deliberations, commissioners heard just how much that region may grow over the next 15 to 20 years. Park Springs Neighborhood Association President John Williams detailed the potential demographics of the future Eastwood, Wolf tract, and
“Eastwood alone is a large development, we’re talking 660-some acres,” he said. “The Wolf tract is much smaller, only 200-some acres. But directly south of the Eastwood development is
Williams noted that each of these developments is serviced by “only one or two” of three two-lane roads: FM 973,
Irion explained his clients’ incentives in his letter. “While none of the developers of these projects are legally required to do so, unless the private sector agrees to participate with the public sector in identifying priority (transportation) needs, and investing in those priorities, none of the needed road improvements are likely to happen,” he wrote.
Irion added that his clients have offered “to continue the dialogue with…stakeholders in developing a regional phasing agreement in which all non-exempt development projects (those in excess of 10 acres in size) would contribute into a transportation improvement fund.”
Irion admitted that such a fund “might never collect enough money to build one of these projects in its entirety.” However, he said that the mere existence of such support “should make it easier for the County and State to raise matching funds to implement construction of such high priority roads.”
“In this situation we know that there’s a problem in this area,” said Bowlin. “This model could be something that could be applied elsewhere in the county where there are similar transportation issues.”
Bowlin told the commissioners that she expected to be able to report back to them on the regional phasing agreement in the next couple of months.
Even with an agreement on transportations costs, commissioners remained concerned about at least one of the projects’ infrastructure-related issues. Precinct 3 Commissioner Karen Huber pointed out that the planned Manville source for the Eastwood development’s water is alluvial. This fact could mean that the project would have to deal with gravel mining and shallow well issues.
“I think that all developers out there ought to be aware that these water supplies are uncertain,” she said.
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