The master plan for the project is the same plan approved in 2008 by the Lower Colorado River Authority. That plan was approved because it met water-quality performance standards of the LCRA’s Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance, LCRA public information officer Clara Tuma said.Although previously approved, that master plan and development permit application expired in 2012, and a master plan approval expired in 2013. Approvals expire after a year, and there is no limit to the number of times an applicant can resubmit an application.
Ken Martin, project manager for Murfee Engineering, signed and submitted a master plan application Aug. 6, according to LCRA records. As of Oct. 1, the name of the developer has not been disclosed to Community Impact Newspaper.
The LCRA has finished an initial review of the master plan and identified issues Murfee Engineering must address before final approval.
“A master plan is defined as a conceptual plan of a multi-phased development showing the order or phased development,” Tuma said. “[This includes] environmental features such as creeks, tributaries, slopes ... roads and proposed location of water-quality protection measures for the development.”
If the master plan is approved, the applicant will then submit applications for the development of each phase shown in the master plan, Tuma said.
Many residents in Briarcliff and the surrounding areas are concerned that hundreds of new residents will exacerbate existing traffic issues, Angel Bay resident Kamila Radford said. The original plans may not account for neighborhoods that have been added since 2008, such as Siesta Shores, Angel Bay and The Reserve at Lake Travis, Radford said.
“Imagine almost 500 homes, which can potentially mean anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 more drivers, driving on those windy roads,” Radford said. “All of this traffic is going to funnel into Lakeway because it’s the only way to get out. Most people head in the direction of Lakeway because that’s where the businesses, jobs, amenities are.”
In addition to general traffic issues, Radford said many residents are concerned about children traveling to school on congested rural roads, such as Bee Creek and Thurman Bend, that do not have passing lanes.
“With this development, if you add cement trucks, construction trucks, heavy equipment and anything needed for the development, it will all end up on those two windy roads,” Radford said.
In addition to traffic issues, Jo Karr Tedder, president of the Central Texas Water Coalition, said the development poses water management and scarcity concerns.
“The big challenge is the explosive population growth in our area and making sure we have an adequate water supply for drinking, washing dishes, washing our clothes, bathing and just living,” Tedder said. “Some of us experienced what it was like to go without water during the winter storm, and I always think about a day when we don’t have enough water and it needs to be rationed.”
The CTWC is not against developmental growth but wants to revise how water is managed to avoid a worst-case scenario, Tedder said.
“If you look at any of the developments in the Austin area, there are thousands of homes going in,” Tedder said. “Every time I drive by one I think where are they going to get their water? One of the things our hydrologist is studying is how much water we have available and how much longer we can continue to grow the way we are growing before we run out of water.”
Additional housing takes more water from the lakes to combat potential wildfires during periods of peak drought, Tedder said.
The developer notified 92 households about the development through a letter posted Aug. 27.
However, many residents from those households did not realize they were notified because they were away from home on vacation, Radford said. Public comment was taken through Sept. 13, Tuma said.
The LCRA received six letters from the public about the development. A letter of opposition submitted Sept. 10 received 31 signatures from 20 distinct addresses, and a letter requesting a public hearing with the LCRA received 44 signatures.
More Briarcliff-area residents would have signed the letters if they had been given more time to respond, Radford said.
“It’s a bit of an uphill battle because it’s very difficult to show the people in charge that there is a problem,” Radford said.