Editors note: This story was adjusted to correct some inaccuracies including the fact that the Provence development is not within Bee Cave’s extra territorial jurisdiction The litigant group against the WTCPUA was furthered clarified.
Hamilton Pool Road residents rallied outside Bee Cave City Hall, prior to a Nov. 10 City Council meeting, in staunch opposition to a potential expansion of the Hamilton Pool Road waterline — an action they said could result in the escalation of intrusive development in their semi-rural community.
Due to a series of legal steps playing out in real time, those opposed to what they see as unnecessary development west of Hwy. 71 are trying to stop the process before it goes further through a strategy that involves holding officials to account on a resolution passed seven years prior.
Specifically, the West Travis County Public Utility Agency, one of three active publicly-owned water and wastewater agencies in Texas, may deliberate Nov. 19 on litigation involving four separate litigants, two of which represent the developers of Provence, a subdivision southwest of the Hwy. 71 intersection, according to the WTCPUA agenda.
City Manager Clint Garza told Community Impact Newspaper that details of that settlement agreement have not been released to the public, but those in opposition said the settlement agreement under review encompasses the possible extension of 1,137 water taps, or LUEs— the living unit equivalent which is used to measure water service.
Records show the WTCPUA previously denied this extension of service in 2017.
A press release from an activist group called Save Hamilton Pool Road states that among other detrimental impacts, the installation of those water taps would require a massive upgrade to the waterline and open up the rural scenic corridor to a proliferation of dense development, traffic congestion and pollution of the Barton Creek watershed.
Those contesting the waterline upgrade and tap expansion said that the developers of the 400-acre master planned community would be the main beneficiary of water taps under debate, which is why they have focused their attention on that development and the impending settlement agreement.
Provence is located just outside of Bee Cave’s city limits at 16314 Hamilton Pool Road and is currently under construction by Masonwood Developerment LLP.
Phase 1 of Provence will encompass 673 homes within 350 acres and should be fully built out by 2030, Masonwood marketing manager Samantha Meredith previously told Community Impact Newspaper.
After the Nov. 10 rally, residents moved inside City Hall chambers to address Bee Cave City Council during the public comment session of its monthly meeting.
During that meeting, those in opposition indicated the additional water taps could enable Provence to increase the development to more than 1,600 homes and called upon council to advocate against the action.
However, Bee Cave officials maintained the decisions made among the five-member WTCPUA board are outside of the city’s direct control.
While council cannot dictate the decisions of the agency, it does appoint two members to serve on its board. Currently, those members are local developer Jack Creveling and City Manager Clint Garza.
Though many residents have said the city manager’s appointment creates a conflict of interest, Garza disagrees.
“I don’t feel conflicted,” he said. “When I represent the city, I’m representing the City Council and the city in full, and when I represent the PUA, I represent the PUA and the ratepayers in full.”
During public comment of the Nov. 10 council meeting, those opposing the decision drew attention to a July 2013 resolution passed by City Council which stated the city’s objection to Provence’s plans. Mayor Kara King is the only current member of the council that served in 2013.
Among those who pointed out the city’s previous objection to the infrastructure expansion at Provence was Rick Scadden, who is also president of the newly formed Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District.
For her part, King said she still supports the spirit of the 2013 resolution and told residents city council has never rescinded the action. Bolstering King’s point, City Attorney Megan Santee said resolutions are not legally binding documents and simply state a policy decision.
In line with King and Santee, Garza said the city has not taken any official position on Provence or the service extension since the 2013 resolution. Ultimately, he said, the decision remains with the PUA.
The WTCPUA will hold its monthly board meeting Nov. 19 within city hall. Those meetings are open to the public and can be streamed virtually.