Public hearing set for Jan. 15 on proposed changes to Travis County development, flood plain regulations

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A Jan. 15 public hearing will provide the opportunity for comments on proposed updates to Travis County’s development and flood plain regulations.

The county is considering early adoption of new flood maps in response to a rainfall intensity study published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sept. 27.

The study, known as Atlas 14, indicates ditches, bridges, detention ponds and other drainage systems will need to be larger in most parts of the county to handle increased rainfall and likelihood of flooding.

Community members who would like to speak on the issue are invited to attend the meeting at 700 Lavaca St., beginning at 9 a.m.

Financing for bond and critical safety projects

In Nov. 2017 voters approved nearly $185 million for roadway and park improvements. County officials also approved an additional $94.9 million for critical safety projects—road improvement projects that do not require voter approval.

Travis County budget staff briefed commissioners Dec. 11 about the revised cash flow to finance construction plan updates to 2017 bond and critical safety projects based on Atlas 14 data. Together the bond and critical safety projects are increasing by about $22 million.

Commissioners voted to move forward with certificates of obligation as the method of financing. The amount of debt issuance will be finalized in February, Travis County Budget Director Travis Gatlin said.

Next steps

Travis County uses the city of Austin’s Drainage Criteria Manual for drainage system standards for new private development. The city plans to update the manual in 2019 to reflect Atlas 14 data, according to county documents.

It will take years for flood modeling to reflect the new understanding of rainfall intensities. However, the county and the city of Austin are taking steps to temporarily adopt revised flood plains and amend development standards ahead of the new models.

The county has already allocated $1.1 million for flood studies over the next several years.

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Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Jackson Buchanan is the Senior Reporter for Southwest Austin. She covers local transportation, development, education, healthcare and Travis County Commissioners Court. She has a bachelor's and master's degree from The University of Texas and has been with Community Impact Newspaper since May 2018.
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