With a proposed 5,000-person concert venue in consideration at 14820 Fitzhugh Road, Warntjes and other neighbors are worried about the safety impacts that increased traffic would bring to the area and wrote a letter to 20 elected officials July 17 in response to a Traffic Impact Analysis, or TIA, submitted by the developer to the county in February 2022.
“I'm not against music,” Warntjes said. “What I am against is concerns about public safety and whether or not we're going to be able to handle this volume of traffic in a reasonable manner.”
Warntjes is part of Fitzhugh Neighbors, a group within The Stop Fitzhugh Concert Venue Coalition, which is in opposition to the project as proposed by California-based developer Blizexas LLC.
The proposed venue will be located off Fitzhugh Road near the intersection of Crumley Ranch and Trautwein Road. Fitzhugh Road is two-lane road, no shoulders, with multiple low-water crossings. It intersects with RM 12, Highway 290 and Hamilton Pool Road.
The letter sent by the coalition members requests Hay County Commissioners to:
- Obtain a safety audit of the road
- Have the developer submit a new TIA that includes the impact of Fitzhugh Road at Hwy. 290
- Hire a third party to review the TIA
- Hold a public hearing before approving a new TIA
The TIA collected data in 2021, and studied peak traffic periods at three intersections with Fitzhugh:
- Crumley Ranch
- Trautwein Road
- RM 12
With this information, the TIA concluded a need for several improvements to the road, including adding police or traffic personnel at the intersections of Crumley Ranch and Trautwein Road with Fitzhugh Road during events, new turning lanes at the intersection of the road with RM 12 and lastly, additional warning signs.
The TIA also conducted a site distance study, which determines how far a driver can see when stopping and looking down an intersection. The study looked at four driveways from the venue onto Fitzhugh.
It found that three driveways met the Hays County minimum sight distance regulation, which is 350 feet for a road that’s 35 miles per hour, except for one at 250 feet, which would be rectified with additional signage, according to the TIA.
“We don't have the infrastructure,” Warntjes said. “I'm talking about 14 miles of two-lane roads. They're windy; they're unlit. There's no shoulders on any of these roads, and they were just never designed for that much volume.”
On Nov. 29, a public hearing was held by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in order to discuss a wastewater permit submitted by Blizexas that brought initial attention to the venue.
The permit, which is still pending approval, would provide the new commercial development with its own municipal wastewater service. The venue would serve up to 5,000 people per day up to three times a week for up to six hours, according to the permit.
The November meeting brought neighbors and members of the Stop Fitzhugh Concert Venue Coalition together to discuss concerns in regards to noise, traffic, light pollution and water pollution that the coalition believes the venue could cause.
“We plan to develop a world class and well-run venue near Dripping Springs that is respectful of our neighbors, the land and the Hill Country’s unique character,” said Bill LeClerc, director of real estate developments and investments at Lexor Investments, in a statement to Community Impact in November. Lexor Investments is the parent company of Blizexas LLC.
Who it affects
Businesses, such as breweries and wineries, in addition to community member’s homes sit off Fitzhugh Road.
Nearby the proposed venue site is also Shield Ranch Barton Creek, which is 6,400 acres of sustainability managed land. Shield Ranch, which has been part of a family for over four generations, conserves the natural habitat and water quality but shares the land with the community through programs such as nature immersion camps.
Marshall Bowen, a member of the Shield Ranch family and attorney with Butler Snow LLP, said the renderings of the venue are shocking because of how it would transform the area and bring environmental concerns.
“I think it's a critical moment in the future of this part of our state, because this is a fundamental change forever in this part of natural land,” Bowen said. “We have to be mindful of the decisions we're making now that are going to have impacts for generations of folks who will live in Austin, and the real impacts on our infrastructure, our water quality and our way of life.”
The coalition is awaiting both for response from elected officials and county leaders to the letter sent July 17 and for a decision from TCEQ on the venue’s wastewater permit.
The renderings of the venue can be found here. For more information on the coalition, visit www.stopfitzhughconcertvenue.com. For more information on permits submitted by Blizexas, visit www.tceq.texas.gov.