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Council gives initial approval for Ace Salvage deal

Friday, May 8, 2015 by Jo Clifton

City Council gave first-reading approval Thursday to an ordinance that will eliminate an auto salvage business above Bull Creek, remove contamination in the critical water quality zone and add to the trail system for that area.

In return, owner Roy Cavanaugh will have the right to trade about 230,000 square feet of impervious cover credits to a developer at another location. He will also be able to continue operating his glass business and build a three-story building to house a dog kennel and storage units on the property, which is at 6308 Spicewood Springs Road.

Council approved the ordinance 10-0 with Council Member Delia Garza off the dais. The ordinance will be on next week’s agenda for second and third reading.

Cavanaugh, who bought the property 30 years ago — long before there were houses in the area — noted that some neighbors referred to the area as Junkyard Heights. However, he pointed out that he was there before they were and does have a right to continue operating his business. Former Mayor Lee Leffingwell asked city staff to see if they can find a way to remove the uses that were detrimental to water quality and give the public greater access to Bull Creek.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo asked numerous questions, generally directed toward making sure Cavanaugh will have no recourse against the city if he is unable to sell the development rights — specifically that he could not ask the city for money if he was unable to sell them. Her concerns stems from the case of developer Bill Walters, in which the city paid him when he was unable to sell his development rights negotiated over a tract of land on the banks of Barton Creek.

Tovo seemed satisfied with the answers she received from Assistant City Attorney Mitzi Cotton and Environmental Officer Chuck Lesniak regarding the development agreement. However, she and Council Member Sheri Gallo both said they needed to study the agreement before it comes back for final approval next week.

Gallo, whose district includes the property and surrounding neighborhoods, was concerned about how customers would access the property. Residents in surrounding neighborhoods have expressed their preference for traffic to enter and exit the property from Spicewood Springs Road. However, city staff has said it would be safer to use Yaupon Drive.

Greg Guernsey, director of the Planning and Zoning Department, explained that the Transportation Department had sent a crew to the location to determine the best traffic patterns for the site. Though Yaupon Drive might seem less desirable for an exit/entrance because of speeding concerns, Guernsey presented a map of a blind curve on Spicewood Springs Road not far from Cavanaugh’s property.

The Transportation Department determined that the kennel would generate about 38 trips per day and the storage unit business would generate about 153 trips per day. The glass business, which Cavanaugh is currently operating, generates an estimated 335 trips per day.

“So not many trips, better sight distance — (Yaupon) Road is in much better shape than Spicewood Springs Road, so that’s why (the Transportation Department) and my department would agree that it’s better to take access on Yaupon Road,” Guernsey concluded.

Under the agreement, Cavanaugh must first remove the salvage yard automobiles and other items that are part of the salvage operation. After he does that, he will receive half of the impervious cover credits. Next, he must clean up the property to standards set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. When he completes that, he will receive the other half of the credits.

Cavanaugh will have 15 years to transfer the impervious cover credits. The buyer of the credits may not transfer them to property within the Barton Springs Zone nor to areas with surface drainage to critical habitat for the Jollyville Plateau salamander. The buyer may apply credits only to property developed under regulations in effect at the time of the transfer.

Tovo was concerned about whether Cavanaugh could transfer the property rights within the floodplain. Cotton said that would require Council approval.

Although site plans normally expire in three years, Cavanaugh will have until 2023 to build his new business under the current plan. Guernsey explained that he granted the extension because it will take considerable time to eliminate the salvage business and clean up the property.


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