On Nov. 12, before a packed meeting room in which residents overflowed into the City Hall vestibule, Bee Cave City Council voted unanimously to deny Covert Auto Group's preliminary plat filing on a tract along Hwy. 71.
The property was being platted to include two car dealerships, a service center, parking garage and fuel station on 8-acres of a 23-acre site fronting Hwy. 71, said Lindsey Withrow, Bee Cave planning and development director. Covert submitted a revised traffic impact analysis Oct. 15 that recommended limiting its driveway traffic to right-turn-in, right-turn-out and adding a signalized intersection on the Summit 56 tract abutting the proposed dealership's site, she said. The Covert plan called for the signalized intersection to be located at a shared driveway on the tract, she said.
Withrow said the city required Covert to obtain the consent of all the Summit 56 property owners and provide signed agreements allowing Covert to use Nitro Swimming and Hill Country Golf and Guitar's entrance on Hwy. 71.
As of the council meeting, the city had not received any agreements from Covert to allow the dealership to place a signalized intersection on the tract, she said.
Engineer Ken Watkins of Bleyl and Associates said the company is in negotiations with the appropriate landowners to obtain agreements to access the signalized intersection.
Richard Phillips, owner of Hill Country Golf & Guitar, said in a statement that he has not been contacted by any Covert representative for access to a joint easement on his Summit 56 property and does not intend to give his permission for the driveway use. Nitro Swimming owner Mike Koleber also said he had not been contacted by Covert regarding this issue.
Residents voiced concerns about the proposed dealership's increased light and noise pollution, increased safety issues if test drives occur within the adjacent Falconhead West neighborhood, visibility of a four-story garage and failure to meet the standards of the city's comprehensive plan.
"The Coverts are making a mistake because they are valuing dollars over people, and that's a fundamental mistake for any business," Falconhead West resident Morris Moore said.
Covert's attorney, Mike McKetta, of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon and Moody, urged council members to follow state law. He said the law would require approval of the plat because his client met all of the city's requirements, and the city does not need to determine where the signalized intersection will be built to approve Covert's preliminary plat.
Mayor Caroline Murphy said the council "strongly disagrees with McKetta's interpretation of Bee Cave's ordinances." Councilwoman Kara King moved to deny the Covert plat and was seconded by Councilwoman Michelle Bliss.
On Nov. 5, Bee Cave's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to deny recommending approval of the Covert preliminary plat to City Council.
New retail center proposed for Summit 56 subdivision
On Nov. 26, Richard Phillips, owner of the Summit 56 subdivision's Hill Country Golf & Guitar, Lot 3, announced he had a contract to purchase the adjoining lot and said he intends to build a small neighborhood retail center—Wisteria Place—on the site. He said he envisions a nail salon, coffee shop, card store or day care center on Lot 4.
Phillips said he has not yet filed site plans for the project with the city of Bee Cave.
"Hill Country development—Bee Cave, Lakeway, Spicewood—requires a partnership with the community, which a lot of developers don't consider," he said.