Travis County commissioners delay approving RV park proposal near Hamilton Pool Preserve as residents raise concern

Travis County commissioners are considering a proposed RV development on Stagecoach Ranch Road in Dripping Springs, less than a half mile from the Hamilton Pool Preserve.
Travis County commissioners are considering a proposed RV development on Stagecoach Ranch Road in Dripping Springs, less than a half mile from the Hamilton Pool Preserve.

Travis County commissioners are considering a proposed RV development on Stagecoach Ranch Road in Dripping Springs, less than a half mile from the Hamilton Pool Preserve.

For the second week in a row, dozens of Dripping Springs residents filled the Travis County Commissioners Court chambers, prepared to speak in opposition to a proposed RV park at 401 Stagecoach Ranch Road, less than a half mile away from the Hamilton Pool Preserve.

Recent RV park proposals have prompted backlash from community members and led to a procedural change in which they are now considered as a special type of subdivision, similar to condominiums, and require commissioner approval to obtain a development permit.

The proposed Bentree RV Resort project would include 80 pad sites for recreational vehicles and a permanent office structure with a pool.

Resident concerns

Residents raised a number of concerns, including about groundwater supply, septic drainage, environmental impact, evacuation routes and safety.

A petition called “Save Hamilton Pool” has garnered 22,844 signatures in opposition to development.

“The Bentree ... trailer park proposed development’s main goal is maximum density for maximum profit, and its tactic is to push the limits of weak county regulations and place the environment at risk,” the petition states.

Many residents raised concerns about the impact of the development on the nearby Hamilton Pool Preserve.

“Hamilton Pool is a classic,” Travis County resident Lewis Adams said Dec. 3. “There’s no place like [it] hardly in this county, and I think of the thousands of visitors, the children that swim in that pool, and I think of the health hazards [in] the long term that could develop from underground septic and sewage going into that creek.”

Others asked commissioners to consider the impact an RV park could have should there ever be a need to evacuate from the dead-end street.

“When I specifically asked [Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3] how am I supposed to evacuate my family of four children and, of course, a pet pig and chickens, out of Stagecoach Ranch Road behind 80-plus RVs, the answer was, ‘That is not under my jurisdiction,’” Travis County resident Angelica Johnson told commissioners at a Dec. 3 meeting.

Daugherty echoed concerns he had heard from constituents that the proposed development would serve long-term residents rather than campers or seasonal RV users.

“We have learned in the last six weeks that RV parks have become living quarters. And that is something, quite frankly, that myself and I think all of us share that that is not what we want these things to be,” Daugherty said at the Dec. 3 meeting. “And so we have pushed back on the applicant.”

County provisions

County staff, in considering the RV park’s application for a development permit, looked more closely at many of these concerns.

Staff wrote in a brief that water availability is not necessary because RVs can be moved easily to a location outside of the park where there is water.

As far as emergency plans, the proposed development meets fire code requirements. Unless instructed by emergency responders to evacuate, RVs are supposed to shelter in place.

The county development code does not require secondary access via a second external street to subdivisions with fewer than 100 RVs.

Additionally, all RV parks must adhere to a restrictive covenant that requires all vehicles to be road-ready and licensed for highway use. The covenant also sets a limit of 180 consecutive days for any RV to stay on-site.

Some residents wondered how enforceable these restrictions would be, if implemented.

Next steps

Commissioners decided Dec. 10 to delay voting on the agenda item, allowing more time for county staff to speak with the developer and develop assurances for both groundwater supply and an additional evacuation route.

“Both parties [the developer and the neighborhood] recognize that there needs to be some work on this,” Daugherty said.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


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