A request to repeal and replace two ordinances related to zoning of the single and multi-family development The Pearl, formerly known as the Terraces at Bee Cave, was approved by Bee Cave City Council at the July 26 meeting in a 4-2 decision, with Mayor Kara King and Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Clark opposed.

The development off of Bee Cave Parkway and RM 620 will feature 10 buildings with a total of 340 multifamily luxury apartments and 59 attached townhomes, a parking structure and a restaurant, according to city documents. Additionally, there will be private amenities for the apartments and townhomes, on- and off-site public trails and two scenic overlooks of the Balcones Canyonland Preserve.

Comprising three sections, the development is split into north, south and crescent tracts. The northern and southern tracts of the project are intended to be constructed in a single phase, and the project is anticipated to develop over a three-to-five year period.

The north tract is 13.45 acres, and is set to include the multi-family homes, one building of townhomes, the parking structure and a pool. The south tract is 6.08 acres where the majority of townhomes are slated, along with a pool. The crescent tract is 3.45 acres and is dedicated to the on- and off-site public trails.

The request for rezoning was from the Morgan Group, a luxury multifamily housing developer from Houston that came to council with the Terraces for approval of a Planned Development District in 2017. At the time, the plan included 57 residential units and six office buildings with one including a restaurant.

Originally set to develop in three phases over 7-10 years, the developers came forward in 2018 with a site plan for Phase 1 of the project. This plan was rejected because it did not adhere to the stipulations set out in the PDD ordinances from 2017, according to city documents.

The developers returned this year on June 28 with a request to alter these ordinances and their associated zoning, but the discussion was tabled so city staff and the developer could provide further details. Work continued through July to flesh out project details, and the request went before council for a final vote on July 26.

King voted against the request, due to pushback from the community and existing traffic problems.

"There is no doubt that all the multifamily around [RM] 620 has increased our traffic. This must be considered... when you change the zoning to multifamily at an already-failing intersection," King said. "I have tallied all the emails, I have spoken with many of you. I believe I am sitting up here to represent our residents. This community does not want this. I do not believe it is my duty to vote for something that the community does not want."

Clark similarly voted against the request, citing concerns with a lack of adherence to the Uniform Development Code passed in June. Following years of work from the city and council, the document consolidates land development regulations to create a cohesive code to filter projects through. The Pearl uses guidelines from both the original agreement and the Uniform Development Code, rather than one or the other, which complicates the issue, Clark said.

"I have no problem with the project itself, necessarily," Clark said. "For me, it's time to draw the line in the sand and say we're operating under the [Unified Development Code] at this point. We decided as a council many years ago to work through this so we wouldn't have to keep picking winners and losers like this with the [Unified Development Code], and we're right back in that position."

Council Member Courtney Hohl spoke in favor of the project during council deliberation, referencing the project’s improved efforts to manage traffic. The project plans to install a turning lane, a traffic light and an additional entrance to RM 620, pending approval from TxDOT, according to city documents.

"I understand [traffic] is a primary concern of residents, and I, too, have this concern," Hohl said. "The issue, however, is far bigger than this one intersection. It's a concern for all of our primary arterial and collector roads, and how TxDOT doesn't have any of it on their radar for three to four years. The win here is that the developer, at their expense, is going to build a dedicated 2,400 linear foot right-turn lane that will undoubtedly help with congestion."

Though he was originally hesitant, Council Member Andy Rebber said he voted in favor of the project due to the need for additional housing and the benefit of installing housing near existing and future office space, according to personal research he completed on studies from the Texas Transportation Institute. A minimum of 5,000 employees are expected to be added to the area, going off the amount of future office space zoned in the city, he said.

"The only way to mitigate [the number of cars coming in] is to give people a chance to to live here, [and] if they commute, they drive around the corner to an office space," Rebber said. "They're not going to clog up [RM] 620...[Hwy.] 71... [or Bee Cave Parkway]. As I did the research and saw what's on the books and what's coming, and read about what we could do to mitigate that, the only thing I could find is projects like this."