Travis County commissioners voted 4-1 to approve an exception from platting requirements for a proposed RV park on Stagecoach Ranch Road, less than a half mile away from Hamilton Pool Preserve, at a Dec. 17 meeting. Commissioner Brigid Shea, who represents Precinct 2, opposed the motion.

The exception will be granted in phases, contingent upon the developer completing a groundwater availability analysis and submitting updated site plans that include improvements to widen Stagecoach Ranch at no cost to the county that will allow the developer to receive a building permit.

The proposed Bentree RV Resort would include 80 pad sites for recreational vehicles and a permanent office structure with a pool.

The project prompted dozens of residents to speak against the project over the course of three Commissioners Court meetings, citing concern about groundwater supply, septic drainage, environmental impact and evacuation routes.

“We’re simply asking you to pause and consider the fact that we have one way in and one way out,” Stagecoach Ranch resident Ray Navarro told commissioners. “If there’s an evacuation, we’re going to be behind 85 RVs, and I would just ask that you consider the fact that, that is a dangerous situation not only for us, who bought our properties to enjoy our life, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness, not to make a profit, not to make a buck.”

Previously, RV parks did not require commissioner approval.

However, after a proposal for an RV park on Fitzhugh Road prompted a similar backlash, the county implemented a procedural change in which RV parks are now considered a special type of subdivision, similar to condominiums, and require commissioner approval to obtain a development permit.

County regulations for subdivisions were not written with RV parks in mind, which has caused some confusion among county residents.

“We do know that we’ve got sort of an ugly situation on our hands if we don’t make some severe changes [regarding RV park regulations,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said. The proposed park is located in his precinct.

While county staff initially recommended that commissioners issue an exception for the proposed RV park, which would allow the developer to obtain a building permit, they ultimately suggested commissioners issue approval in phases.

Doing so will allow the county to require the developer conducts water liability and well testing for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before any building occurs.

“I’m hearing concerns, so I wanted to give an opportunity to have some of those issues addressed before we issued all of the permits,” said Anna Bowlin, division director for development services and long-range planning.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt tried to address confusion among residents while also stressing the county’s prior work to suppress development along Hamilton Pool Road.

“There’s nothing nefarious going on here,” Eckhardt said. “The word 'exception' that is hanging folks up, but it actually is our standard operating procedure. This is a routine exception handled at the staff level because our regulations aren’t actually applicable. They were written for stick-built homes.”