Cities to deal with traffic congestion, new police department facility, oak wilt control and developing a capital improvement plan in 2017

City & County updates Lake Travis | Westlake The 2017 Bee Cave City Council, from left, is: Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin, Council Member Marie Lowman, Mayor Caroline Murphy, Council Member Kara King, Council Member Monty Parker and Council Member Tom Matzen.[/caption]

Bee Cave

Big decisions made in 2016

  • Comprehensive master plan Our Bee Cave 2037 created
    City Council approved an updated comprehensive master plan that determines community goals; provides guidance for projected growth; and directs public policy in terms of transportation, utilities, land use, parks, hike and bike trails, open space, recreation and housing.  The plan envisions how Bee Cave may look in the year 2037, the 50th anniversary of its incorporation as a municipality.

  • Annexation continued
    The city annexed approximately 147 acres of land into its corporate limits.  As the majority of the newly annexed land is undeveloped, development will be guided by the Future Land Use Map, which is part of the comprehensive master plan. 

  • Additional land purchased
    The city closed on the purchase of approximately 22 acres of undeveloped land located between Bee Cave Parkway and West Hwy. 71, across from the Ladera subdivision and next to the Hill Country Indoor sports complex currently under construction. The city has no immediate plans for how this land will be used; however, public ownership of this land will allow future city leaders the flexibility to provide more open space and/or future city services as the area’s population continues to grow. 

Top issues for 2017

  • Area traffic congestion
    The city will continue to work with the Texas Department of Transportation, Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and Lakeway’s elected officials to improve traffic flow along RR 620. Road improvements under review include adding turn lanes at critical intersections, requiring developers to design internal pedestrian and vehicular connections to adjacent properties, and requiring developers to add deceleration lanes along major highways and thoroughfares to allow cars to safely slow down and turn into a driveway.

  • Hotel tax funds usage
    City leaders will determine how best to use the funds being collected by its hotel occupancy tax.  The Sonesta Hotel has been generating significant hotel occupancy tax dollars that can be used by the city to promote tourism and the arts.

A question for Caroline Murphy, mayor

Will the city of Bee Cave be able to maintain its Hill Country feel along Hamilton Pool Road with the anticipated growth in the region?

The primary focus of this character area will be to maintain the rural character of the roadway and its surrounding uses; protect views on Hamilton Pool Road; and upgrade the right of way with landscape improvements, access-management techniques, and bicycle/pedestrian connectivity and safety improvements. Preferred uses for the corridor include special destination or tourism-type uses, local farm or food-related markets or stands, and neighborhood-serving businesses. New development should minimize building footprints, conserve existing tree canopy and vegetation, and be set back from the roadway with appropriate landscaping.

City & County updates Lake Travis | Westlake The 2017 Lakeway City Council, from left, is: Council Member Ron Massa, Council Member Jim Powell, Mayor Joe Bain, Mayor Pro Tem Dwight Haley and Council Member Jean Hennagin. Not pictured: council members Bridget Bertram and Keith Trecker.[/caption]


Big decisions made in 2016

  • Traffic-management improvements made
    The city installed a new signal traffic signal at Lohmans Spur and Lohmans Crossing and worked with the Texas Department of Transportation to build a third southbound lane on RR 620 between the Lakeway Post Office and Lake Travis High School.

  • Short-term rental regulations created
    Lakeway City Council and staff amended the city’s ordinance on short-term rentals to limit the maximum number of such properties in the city to 59. The ordinance also set rental occupancy to two adults per bedroom and a minimum rental period to two consecutive nights.

  • Property tax rate lowered
    Lakeway City Council lowered the city’s property tax rate to $0.1612 per $100 valuation, which is less than the city’s effective tax rate—the rate that would produce the same amount of tax as the previous year.

Top issues for 2017

  • Police building
    The city’s Justice Center Advisory Committee determined the Lakeway Police Department needs a new building. Its current facilities are not capable of sustaining a department to serve a city of Lakeway’s size now and in the future. The city anticipates putting a bond referendum before voters in May.

  • Flint Rock Road improvement Project
    Lakeway is working with Travis County to complete the Flint Rock Road Improvement Project in early 2017 that will widen a portion of the road to four lanes, add turn lanes at major intersections, add paved shoulders, flatten hills, eliminate road dips and straighten curves.

  • Bee Creek Road recreational fields
    Lakeway voters approved $3.7 million in 2014 to purchase 60 acres on Bee Creek Road for recreational use. The city continues to work with Travis County and the Lake Travis Youth Association to bring a much-needed youth sports facility to the area.

A question for Joe Bain, mayor

Can you describe the effect of the changes to RR 620 that have been constructed in the past year on area congestion?

Our top priority is the safety of our citizens in Lakeway and their quality of life. We plan to address that by calling a bond for a new police building in May 2017 and continuing to work with the [Texas Department of Transportation] to improve RR 620 and other state roads in the area.

City & County updates Lake Travis | Westlake The 2016-17 Rollingwood City Council, from left, is: Alderman Michael Dyson, Alderman Bobby Dillard, Alderman Joe Basham, Alderman Gavin Massingill, Mayor Roxanne McKee and Mayor Pro Tem Sara Hutson.[/caption]


Big decisions made in 2016

  • Drainage ordinance approved
    The city of Rollingwood passed a new drainage ordinance.  The Drainage Criteria Manual that accompanies it is now available on the city’s website. These efforts should lessen any negative impact of stormwater runoff from redevelopment activity in the city.

  • Updating building codes, fees
    The city adopted updates on all building codes, including residential and commercial codes, to 2015 versions as well as amended regulations pertaining to home occupations, swimming pools, site plans, permit renewals, stop work orders and revocation of permits. The city also amended its fee schedule for building, development and sign permit fees to better reflect costs to process permits.

  • Construction projects
    A new drainage culvert has been constructed under the road on Hatley Drive near Riley Road. This should prevent stormwater runoff over Hatley at this location and improve drainage of stormwater runoff from neighboring properties. The construction of a retaining wall in Rollingwood Park’s Lower Park is nearly complete and will protect visitors to the park from rocks that are sloughing off there. Valley gutters were constructed in 2016 to improve drainage as well.

Top issues for 2017

  • Oak wilt control and education
    The city will undertake construction projects to trench along certain streets and neighboring properties to contain the city’s  active oak wilt center.  A campaign to educate and help Rollingwood residents identify trees with oak wilt  in order to prevent its spread will begin with an oak wilt flyer that will be mailed along with the city’s water bills in January. Oak wilt is a fungal disease that kills up to 90 percent of oak trees that are infected.

  • MoPac South project
    The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is expected to select a final design proposal for the MoPac South construction project, which will add express lanes between Cesar Chavez St. and Slaughter Lane, in 2017.  City Council will continue to monitor the selection process and provide input to protect the interests of Rollingwood residents.

  • Drainage and stormwater runoff
    City Council  will continue to identify drainage issues in Rollingwood and recommend possible solutions. The city will educate residents on the importance of preventing detrimental impacts from stormwater runoff to help the city stay in compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requirements for municipal stormwater systems. The city expects the recently passed drainage ordinance and drainage manual will have a positive effect on residents.

A question for Roxanne McKee, mayor

How do you expect the new drainage ordinance and manual will impact Rollingwood residents?

With the drainage ordinance and drainage criteria manual, current and future residents who are remodeling/rebuilding their property will know what drainage requirements are expected from the city prior to their design phase. The homeowner’s engineer, city’s plan reviewing engineer and city building official will all be working with one set of standardized requirements. This will make design and construction flow more smoothly, reduce plan redesign costs for residents and reduce the need for additional plan reviews. The biggest positive is decreased stormwater impact and increased protection for residents from future impacts from redevelopment.

City & County updates Lake Travis | Westlake The 2016-17 West Lake Hills City Council, from left, is: Council Member Brian Plunkett, Mayor Pro Tem Stan Graham, Council Member Darin Walker, Mayor Linda Anthony, Council Member Rhonda McCollough and Council Member Jim O’Connor.[/caption]

West Lake Hills

Big decisions made in 2016

  • Creation of short-term rental ordinance
    City Council  passed an ordinance regulating short-term rentals, or STRs, that takes effect Jan. 26. The majority of residents wanted to allow STRs but with reasonable restrictions. The council held numerous public hearings, and a subcommittee worked for over a year to craft an ordinance that strikes a balance, allowing residents to use their property in a way that does not negatively impact neighbors.

  • Creation of city reserve funds
    The council created a reserve fund policy, recognizing that having a reserve fund policy is not only a prudent fiscal management tool but an effective way to maintain the city’s credit rating. The council created three funds: a Stabilization Cash Reserve Fund in the amount of $2.4 million, a Legal Counsel Reserve Fund in the amount of $250,000, and a Capital Project Reserve Fund of $500,000 for intersection improvements at  Westlake Drive and Bee Caves Road.

  • Settlement of Peace lawsuit
    The council voted to settle a lawsuit with the Peace family stemming from right of way acquisition for the Bee Caves Road expansion project. The council decided it was in the city’s best interest  to settle the matter rather than engage in a lengthy and potentially costly appeal. Council felt that a settlement would bring the issue to a close and enable the community to better focus its energy and attention on future challenges.

Top issues for 2017

  • Developing a capital improvement plan
    This spring, engineers will finalize a citywide drainage study, which will list the city’s top 15 problems and include plans to solve them as well as cost estimates. The city has  asked its engineers for a list of top street repairs. Based on their recommendations, City Council will develop a five-year plan for making infrastructure improvements with an eye toward a possible bond proposal in 2018. The cost of these improvements and repairs has outpaced the city’s ability to fund them out of annual operating revenue.

  • Budget process
    Last year the city established a finance committee tasked with making quarterly budget reports to the council. Council will begin the budget process earlier this year and continue efforts to streamline it, making it more accessible and meaningful to residents. Council  will also be incorporating a longer horizon in projections and planning than the current fiscal year.

  • Ethics ordinance review
    The city will work with an outside consultant to review the ethics ordinance with an eye toward strengthening it and making sure it is up to date with current state laws and community values. The city wants to ensure that residents continue to have confidence and trust in how the council conducts its business and in its regulatory process.

A question for Linda Anthony, mayor

How do you expect Bee Caves Road construction to impact area residents and businesses this year?

Hopefully the impact to residents and businesses will be minimal in 2017. During the next few months, the Texas Department of Transportation will  work on tree removal, environmental protection, utility relocation and other preparations. Actual construction is scheduled for the summer, with one of the project’s biggest challenges coming up: leveling or raising the roadway where it intersects with Old Bee Caves Road. That construction will be limited to weekends, and only two lanes of traffic will be open. TxDOT will then work on widening the east side of the roadway from Redbud Trail to Camp Craft Road. The city has been working with neighborhoods to develop traffic-calming plans to mitigate the anticipated increase in cut-through traffic.

City & County updates Lake Travis | Westlake The 2016 Travis County Commissioners Court, from left: Margaret Gomez, Gerald Daugherty, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Brigid Shea, Ron Davis (retired). Not pictured: New Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion[/caption]

Travis County

Big decisions made in 2016

  • Disaster scenarios studied
    With deadly floods in 2015 and again in 2016, the court engaged experts to further study the flood plain, refined the Land Water and Transportation Plan, and was advised on the best ways to prevent future disasters.

  • Advisory committee established
    After narrowly losing a bond referendum in 2015, the Commissioners Court established a Citizens Advisory Committee, including those who had opposed the 2015 bond election, to advise on a path forward to address the pressing need for additional courts today and into the future.

  • Bus service expanded
    The court expanded bus service into eastern Travis County near Decker Lane. Bus connectivity between Williamson and Travis counties will be enhanced with rapid bus service on MoPac managed lanes in 2017.

Top issues for 2017

  • Bond referendum
    The court will move forward with a bond referendum for additional projects in November 2017.

  • Home buyouts
    In 2017, the court will seek additional sources to fund buyout of homes and building of infrastructure to move the community out of the path of future floods.

  • Courthouse reuse
    The court continues to pursue partnership with the federal government to reuse the historic Federal Courthouse at West Eighth and Lavaca streets for additional probate court needs.

  • New staff
    The court is onboarding new talent, including District Attorney Margaret Moore, Sheriff Sally Hernandez and new Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion.

A question for  Sarah Eckhardt, county judge

What are some of the most important achievements the court accomplished in 2016?

The big goals for 2016 were in community resiliency to natural disaster, courts capacity, transportation and affordability. The court has made real progress in all of these areas in 2016.