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.