A proposed plan to redevelop the Bryson Farmstead property in Leander has left several residents in the neighboring community with questions as well as concerns about increased noise and traffic.

What happened

The Leander Chamber of Commerce recently submitted a planned unit development, or PUD, application to the city, which includes proposals for the redevelopment of the 6-acre Bryson Farmstead property, located near the intersection of 183A Toll and San Gabriel Parkway.

Per the PUD, proposed development plans include preserving the existing buildings to be reused for historic interpretation as well as adding a public event space, a visitor's center and chamber offices.

The PUD also outlined some permitted uses for the land, including:
  • Special event space
  • Outdoor events, such as farmer’s markets, festivals or concerts
  • Outdoor historic interpretive events
As part of the proposal, outdoor activities would take place between 9 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and national holidays; and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. Any outdoor sound would be allowed as long as it’s in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance.

The planning and zoning commission denied the PUD application on May 9, citing noise concerns and the intended uses for the property. The application was supposed to go before council on May 16 but was pulled from the meeting agenda due to ongoing confusion in the community.

However, council members and city officials addressed some of the community’s concerns during the meeting.

In their own words

Officials said over 100 residents submitted comments to the city expressing their unease related to the PUD. Most of the concerns were about noise and a possible increase in traffic surrounding the neighborhood, officials said.

During the May 16 City Council meeting, resident Joshua Raley said the community wants more clarity on what they can expect from this development.

“I think [the Chamber of Commerce's] intentions are in the right place, and I appreciate what they're trying to do,” he said. “There's some great aspects of the project, but balancing responsibly with the needs of the residents—we're asking for more clarity in there about how it fits within the noise ordinance and what limits are going to be in place, especially on the special events.”

How we got here

In the last month, some misinformation about the proposed plan has traveled throughout the community, Mayor Christine DeLisle said.

DeLisle said a resident sent an email to the chamber president, who was in surgery at the time, and someone else replied back to the email with incorrect information.

The quick spread of wrong information paired with additional miscommunication has left the residents with unclear expectations. DeLisle said the following points caused confusion in the community:
  • The presence of a roadway on one of the concept maps: This road was not approved by council or included in the PUD proposal. Residents voiced concerns about the road because they don't want it to bring additional traffic to the area.
  • An outdated frequently asked questions list that relates to an earlier version of the PUD
  • A stage the parks and recreation team included in the PUD: This was not requested by the chamber, and chamber officials agreed to remove it.
  • Who is responsible for maintenance of various parts of the project, the city or the chamber
  • A new structure and the uses intended for it
“The way that we got here, it was sort of this unfunny comedy of errors, which is what created a situation where there's lots of different versions of what's going out to the public,” DeLisle said.

What officials are saying

“I would like to see [the PUD] be very clear, so there's no confusion of who's doing what and when, and exactly what the chamber is asking for and what they want to see on this property,” council member Na’Cole Thompson said.

Next steps

The chamber agreed to make the PUD proposal more detailed.

DeLisle said there will also be a contract between the city and the chamber explaining how they’ll work together moving forward, so both parties can be prepared to address any unanswered questions.

Officials said the revised PUD along with the contract will come back before council at a future meeting.