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Thursday, April 3, 2014 by Jimmy Maas
Travis Commissioners again delay decision on condo project
Developers of a proposed condominium project on Lake Travis — and those who oppose it — are still waiting for a decision from Travis County Commissioners. For the second week in a row, commissioners heard from neighbors and developers, but delayed a decision to let the project move forward.
The detached-condo project, currently called the Summit at Lake Travis, has provided a little drama to Commissioners Court meetings of late. It has even prompted county staff to get involved to facilitate a meeting among the three adjacent property owners associations and the developer, Clint Jones.
“We had a meeting last Thursday night with some of the leadership from the three homeowner or property owners associations in the area, some representatives from Travis County and the developer,” said Anna Bowlin of Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources.
It is planned for the middle of a peninsula on the south side of Lake Travis near Bee Creek Road. Three neighborhood associations, Inverness Point, Vistas at Lake Travis and the now-combined Crosswind and Hidden Hills neighborhoods have raised a number of issues with it, including density, safety and traffic.
Tim Hostetter, Vistas at Lake Travis resident, told commissioners that after the meeting with Jones, they’d like to change the planned exits to mitigate traffic concerns and emergency services access.
Hostetter said they would like the primary entrance of the project to join the existing intersection of Lakehurst Road and Lakehurst Loop. The Vistas would cede some of its land to improve that intersection, perhaps widening to include a four-way stop. Current plans place the entrance several hundred feet away from that intersection.
“Rather than two tees, we would much rather see an intersection with Lakehurst Road that’s already existing,” Hostetter told the court. “We know the Lakeway review boards that we had discussions with, while they approved the existing plans, they preferred it to intersect with Lakehurst Loop. I do believe Clint’s team has looked at it. We’re not convinced topography prevents it.”
Jones says it’s not feasible, mainly because of drainage and runoff retention ponds.
“They’re asking for the water to go uphill,” said Jones. “Most of it will just run off down the side (if plans were altered).”
Noting sight lines and other concerns, neighbors asked for an improved intersection with stop signs to help control traffic. But Jones doesn’t see traffic being a big concern.
“Those roads are currently Level of Service (LOS) ‘A’ roads,” said Jones while commissioners were in executive session. “Even with this project, the roads would still be Level of Service ‘A’”
LOS is a civil engineering standard used to measure traffic. The scale goes from ‘A,’ being best or a free-flowing road, to ‘F,’ being worst or usually clogged.
County staff hasn’t wavered on its approval of the project. “I still believe that it meets our requirements and we recommend its approval,” Bowlin told commissioners, “Both the cancellation and then the condo — the subdivision exception for condos and the construction agreement.”
Neighbors also asked for the developer to add an emergency exit for the neighborhood for fire access and another way out for residents. They proposed a third egress, but gated with a “Knox Box.” But both Jones and County Fire Marshal Herschel Lee say that third exit will be mostly useless in evacuations.
“If you put a Knox Box on it, the only people that will have that key to open that gate will be emergency services,” said Lee. “The citizens wouldn’t have the ability to open that gate if you secure it with Knox locks.”
After discussion, the court then went into executive session to consult with the county attorneys. Commissioners then came out of the session and said they needed more time. When court reconvened after lunch, commissioners determined they’ll wait another week.
As reported last week, Travis County laid out the plats in 1941, when the land wasn’t under Lakeway’s authority. Since the county approved the lots then, it now has to partially cancel its actions of more than 70 years ago and add a condominium exception for the project to move ahead.
In the end, through inaction, commissioners have effectively given the neighborhood groups what they initially asked for – more time. If commissioners act next week, they will have provided the minimum two weeks that neighbors requested in court last week.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Lakeway: An autonomous municipality in northwest Travis County, near Lake Travis.
Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.