City of Lakeway to participate in regional air quality plan, and other takeaways from Monday's City Council meeting

The Lakeway City Council agreed to officially participate in the 2019-2023 Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area Regional Air Quality Plan.

The Lakeway City Council agreed to officially participate in the 2019-2023 Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area Regional Air Quality Plan.

As pressure mounts throughout the region for more conscientious air quality standards, the city of Lakeway formally joined in to help develop strategies combatting dangerous emissions in its own backyard.

Following a formal request from the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, of which Lakeway is a member, Lakeway City Council voted Monday to officially participate in the 2019-2023 Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area Regional Air Quality Plan. It is an extensive multicounty effort designed to stay in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations pertaining to ozone and carbon dioxide.

Through Monday’s vote, Lakeway officials agreed to commit to several measures in the plan, including but not limited to educating city employees about regional air quality, energy conservation—especially during Ozone Action Days—and establishing and enforcing idling policies for use of Lakeway’s vehicles, equipment and property.

“We feel like there’s nothing in [the agreement] that we either aren’t doing already or that we can’t do,” Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said Monday.

Assistant City Manager Julie Oakley said the city is also looking for other ways to contribute to a cleaner air policy and brought up the fact Lakeway recently received a grant for an electric car charging station to be located at the Lakeway Swim Center.

Heather Jefts, a Central Texas Clean Air Coalition member, said she’s hopeful that area entities can keep working for regional solutions, as it will take a major group effort to reduce engine idling, especially on huge thoroughfares such as RM 620, which runs directly through Lakeway.

Engine idling is a major contributor to ground-level ozone, which is created by chemical reactions in the presence of sunlight, according to information from the EPA.

In statements to Community Impact Newspaper last month, Jefts said that ground-level ozone has been worse than normal in 2018, and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that about 67 percent of emissions associated with ozone formation in the Austin-Round Rock region are attributable to on-road and off-road vehicles.

“[RM] 620 does have some major issues, and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t end up on the last [Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization] call for projects,” Jefts said “I’m hoping that the next call for projects for CAMPO will include an agenda item to address the traffic on 620.”

CAMPO, a federally required organization charged with producing transportation planning for Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties, adopted its 2019-22 project call in May, and Jefts said that it didn’t include RM 620 because the thoroughfare didn’t have a “shovel-ready” project in the works.

Because of the amount of traffic on RM 620, especially during peak hours, Jefts said she is hoping it will be included on CAMPO’s next project call, which could be as soon as May 2019.

Lakeway’s participation in the plan sends a major signal to surrounding communities that they’re ready and willing to participate in a solution, Jefts said.

Other takeaways from the Oct. 15 Lakeway City Council meeting:

Police Department Building mostly on schedule

The Lakeway Police Department building is now 195 days into the project and 70 percent complete, according to a representative from SpawGlass, a contractor for the building.

The representative said completion of the roof was delayed due to weather constraints, but projected substantial completion of the building remains at mid-February 2019.

The breakdown of costs has not changed, and so far a little more than $11 million has been billed toward the project.

About 90 percent of the exterior glass is installed, much of the stonework has been placed, and most of interior on the first floor is complete. All interior framing is also complete in level two, and electrical distribution is underway.

Proposed development requests amendment to existing special-use permit

Council approved a zoning amendment to a special-use permit that would significantly reduce a southwest Lakeway development’s commercial footprint, paving the way for a mainly residential senior-living facility.

Serene Hills Ltd., owner of about 10 acres along Hwy. 71 and Bee Creek Road, along with its agents and private equity firm The Wolff Company, requested to reduce the commercial element of its planned senior-living facility to be called Serene Hills Independent Living from 30,000 square feet to between 0-10,000 square feet.

The Lakeway Zoning and Planning Commission approved the request at its Oct. 3 meeting with the condition that parking space determination be left up to staff during the site development planning process.

Mayor Pro Tem Ron Massa brought up the need for a method to safely enter and exit the facility from Hwy. 71, to which the representative from The Wolff Company said the matter is still under investigation but that it shared Massa’s concerns.

New donation and grant policy adopted

In order to avoid problems that may arise through donations made to the city, Lakeway officials on Monday approved a resolution adopting a new donation and grant policy with an amendment of health, safety and environmental issues added to its language.

The preemptive strategy came up during FY 2018-19 budget work sessions, and a city document states that the policy addresses any future budgetary implications regarding the accepting of donations, monetary or otherwise.
The policy establishes that all grant applications must be authorized by City Council with an explanation of the intended use of the grant funds and the expected benefits to the citizens of the city, the document states.

The resolution states that the newly adopted policy is not intended to discourage donations or grant applications that do not place additional budgetary burdens on the city.

Terms of the new policy also state:
- The term “donation” includes all monetary gifts, equipment, land, buildings or any other tangible item.
- All donations must be consistent with the city’s purpose and mission.
- All donations under $2,000 in value must be approved by City Council.
- All donations other than monetary gifts must include a statement of estimated value by the donor.
- All donations accepted by the city will become irrevocable property of the city to be used at its discretion for any lawful purpose.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Heather Sánchez
Leander ISD hires new area superintendent

Heather Sánchez will be a new area superintendent at Leander ISD.

Eanes ISD trustees will meet May 11 for a special-called board meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Diversity, equity and inclusion report, budget updates and mask policy on May 11 Eanes ISD agenda

The Eanes ISD board of trustees is scheduled to meet May 11 for a special-called meeting at the district’s Central Administration Building.

Succulent plants, like these agave, or century plants, at the Hill Country Galleria, were severely damaged by the 2021 winter storm. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper).
Assessing true damage to Hill Country landscapes to take time

Industry experts conducting survey to tally impact of historic winter storm.

From left: Peter Keilty and Chris Abramson of Bees for All tend to one of their hives. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bees for All teaches the importance of local pollinators

Local business produces honey from seven hives on a 5-acres site.

Chacasso (pictured) and Micah Pearman own Flip'N Art, a custom art business in Bee Cave.
Lake Travis area becomes unlikely home to a growing arts scene

“Arts are the light coming out of the darkness. You need to see the beauty around us and the beauty that we can all create, and we’re just hungry for connection.” Kat Albert said. “For us, it’s not just about seeing something beautiful. It’s about having that interaction with another human that makes you feel alive.”

Utility work is related to ongoing construction of a bypass of RM 2222 and RM 620. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TxDOT lane closure scheduled for RM 620 beginning May 9

Drivers in west Travis County headed southbound on RM 620 should expect delays beginning at RM 2222 to Steiner Ranch Boulevard on May 9 from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Work crews with the Texas Department of Transportation will have the right lane closed due to utility work.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.