In April, several residents of the adjacent Crosswind community spoke before Lakeway City Council to express concerns regarding site plans for Las Brisas, a section of the Rough Hollow Development currently under construction.
Construction led by Joe Bland Construction LP began 10 years ago on the 2,000-acre housing development owned by Legend Communities. Today, it is one of the largest residential developments in the area, with 25 neighborhoods, according to the development’s website.
Work on Rough Hollow is over 50% complete, and construction on the Las Brisas neighborhood is expected to be completed by the end of October, according to Bill Hayes, chief operating officer of Legend Communities.
Christy Muse, a 20-year resident of the Crosswind community, said early on she foresaw the potential for environmental issues, particularly concerning stormwater runoff into Lake Travis. Following heavy rainfall the morning of Sept. 9, Muse said she witnessed the issue firsthand.
According to Muse, construction runoff and sediment made its way into Little Rough Hollow Cove, an inlet to the lake, which sparked a response from residents, the city of Lakeway and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Since April 21, the TCEQ has received five complaints related to stormwater runoff into Little Rough Hollow, which eventually led to an investigation in May, according to TCEQ spokesperson Brian McGovern.
During the investigation, five violations emerged related to the development’s stormwater pollution prevention plan. The findings prompted a notice of violation issued July 13, which, according to McGovern, has since been resolved. The TCEQ began a second investigation Sept. 9 in the wake of recent complaints.
Additionally, the city of Lakeway issued its own violation Sept. 10 for failed erosion sediment control through stormwater discharge, according to Communications Director Jarrod Wise. Since May, Lakeway has filed three stop-work orders for Joe Bland Construction in response to runoff, Wise said.
However, stormwater violation notices are not uncommon during construction, according to Hayes, who also said they can occur just by nature of loose construction sediment and rainfall.
Silt fences, which are used to collect sediment from stormwater runoff, were installed among other measures to address the runoff, but Hayes said such measures can temporarily fail in the event of a storm.
Despite the actions taken by the developers and local officials, Muse said the larger issue is related to the development’s initial site plans that back more than 20 years. She feels violations have only served as temporary measures for a site plan agreement she thinks is not up to the city’s present standards. In part, Muse said she believes the clear-cutting of trees is to blame.
Bland Construction is following the code regulations that were in place at that time of the 1997 agreement, according to Wise, who said certain requirements, including those for post-construction water quality control have changed since.
As construction comes to an end, Muse said she believes these issues will continue.
“Stormwater events are an indication of what’s going to happen after [the development is] built out,” Muse said. “There won’t be construction sediment. It’ll be oil, herbicides, pesticides—everything coming off the development.”
Hayes said he has heard similar statements from residents but maintained that the stormwater runoff is a temporary occurrence. The current cause for the runoff is an abundance of loose construction dirt and a lack of vegetation, according to Hayes, who said the issue will not continue once the neighborhood is completed.
“We’re very sympathetic to what’s going on, and, believe me, it’s in our best interest to keep the lake looking good and that cove looking good because we’re trying to sell home sites that look over it,” Hayes said.