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Leffingwell keeps his seat on BCCP coordinating committee

Monday, August 11, 2014 by Michael Kanin

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell will stay on as the City of Austin’s representative to the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan’s coordinating committee. His presence there — as one of only two representatives — had irked some of his colleagues in the wake of recent apparent forward movement for the long-debated State Highway 45  Southwest extension.

Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, the other representative,  is an ardent supporter of SH45  SW.

Recent support from Leffingwell for the road prompted his Council colleagues — the rest of whom oppose the project — to call for his replacement at their June 26 meeting. Though the item prompted much gnashing over the Mayor’s commitment to protect sensitive regions of the BCCP, should discussion of SH45 SW find its way to the committee, Council members delayed any action. Their delay hinged on the fact that the committee had no planned meetings before Council’s first August tilt.

That came Thursday. At first it appeared that the Mayor’s colleagues would return to their debate. Indeed, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole pulled Council’s normally routine Boards and Commissions nomination item in order to have that discussion.

Instead, the Mayor found a chance to defend his position as Save Our Springs’ Bill Bunch suggested that Council members take action. “I will not vote on any issue, yea or nay, with regard to State Highway 45 on that commission,” he said. “In addition, although I’ve said that I support going forward with the proposal to build SH45, I will not support any modifications to the city’s environmental policy restrictions with regard to parks, water quality, endangered species, et cetera — and I’ve said that all along.

Cole took a moment to verify the Mayor’s stance. “I’m assuming that you are making that representation whether it is directly or indirectly brought before the BCCP (committee).”

“That is correct,” Leffingwell responded.

That, apparently, was enough for Cole. She placed the item back on Council’s consent agenda. No other Council members offered any other action in that direction.

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