Great Divide crossing, hotel tax fund future and Austin Energy pole plan: 3 takeaways from Bee Cave City Council’s Nov. 14 meeting

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Homeowners who live in the semirural community of Homestead off Hwy. 71 in Bee Cave’s extraterritorial jurisdiction showed up at the City Council meeting Nov. 14 to advocate against a county bond-supported plan for a new bridge into their neighborhood.

Most at the meeting supported city annexation of the land the crossing sits on as a way to protect the community from future neighboring development they said a bridge would bring.

Longtime residents like Michelle Williams said current access to the Homestead neighborhood via the low-water crossing has never been a safety issue, only briefly blocking traffic on rare occasions after heavy rains. Williams said the bridge adds to the atmosphere of the community.

“It slows down the cars as they come in. A big bridge would totally change the character of our neighborhood,” she said.

The proposed Great Divide Drive span that county taxpayers agreed to fund in the Nov. 7 election, would replace a 31-year-old low-water crossing that Travis County planners deemed the fifth-highest priority road structure in the county.

Resident Victoria Winbourne was one of a few attendees who spoke in favor of the county plan that includes funds to study what kind of structure to erect over the creek.

“We’re looking a gift horse in the mouth,” Winbourne said. “[I suggest the city consider] postponing annexation until after the county has done design work. Let them do their job and move forward,” she told the council.

The council will continue hearing public comment at a second meeting before the end of the year.

Austin Energy plans power poles for part of Bee Cave Parkway

Bee Cave City Council voted to discuss plans to install power distribution lines along a section of Bee Cave Parkway running 2,220 linear feet close to the Ladera subdivision with Austin Energy. Construction could begin in 60 days, according to an Oct. 23 memo that Austin Energy is required to send to city staff under an existing franchise agreement.

Council members wanted to know what options remained for burying the wires, a more expensive option. One of five property owners along the stretch, developer Adrian Overstreet told the council he would offer to pay $150,000 toward that cost. Overstreet’s development group holds the title to the tract behind the Target store.

Backyard developer Christopher Milam also recently expressed interest in contributing funds to maintain the aesthetics of the area.

Council Member Money Parker told the council that Austin Energy seems unwilling to slow down to work with developers to fund it.

“I don’t see anything that makes it so urgent,” he said.

City staff said Austin Energy explained the lines are needed to make sure customers have reliable power during a possible brownout.

In March 2011, city executed a 10-year franchise agreement that permits Austin Energy to install power distribution lines in its jurisdiction. In return, the utility pays the city 3 percent of gross revenues generated.

Hotel occupancy tax funds to be made available

Hotel occupancy tax funds collected in Bee Cave will soon be available for organizations to use toward projects or events that enhance or promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry in the city.

That could include building a convention center, promoting a historical preservation effort or building a facility for the arts, according to the state tax code chapter under which the hotel tax revenue sharing program falls.

To make sure recipients are held accountable with these public funds, the ordinance spells out an expenditure reporting schedule and requires a postevent report that will be public record for up to four years, according to council records.

Council members passed the ordinance at the Nov. 14 meeting setting up themselves as a standing committee to vet applications at least once a year, possibly around the annual budget period. The first hotel tax committee meeting is expected to be held early in 2018.

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Rob is a seasoned journalist, having enjoyed a successful career in radio and television news before joining the world of print and Community Impact in September 2017 as editor of the Lake Travis - Westlake edition. In his spare time, Rob enjoys tasting local craft beer and can be found climbing area rock walls. He lives in Cedar Park with his wife and daughters.

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