Austin residents express safety concerns with potential new Bella Fortuna development

Travis County Commissioners approved a license agreement with Central Health that will allow the entity to expand its services to Southeast Travis County at a meeting Aug. 22.

Travis County Commissioners approved a license agreement with Central Health that will allow the entity to expand its services to Southeast Travis County at a meeting Aug. 22.

Flooding and traffic safety issues are among the concerns of a few residents of the Onion Creek subdivision in South Austin who spoke during a public hearing for a petition to create the Bella Fortuna Public Improvement District at Tuesday's Travis County Commissioners Court meeting.

The proposed Bella Fortuna development would be situated about a mile southeast of I-35 and Onion Creek Parkway on approximately 158 acres within the city of Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, according to county documents. More than 400 single-family homes, 200 multifamily units and commercial space are included as part of the development plans.

Bella Fortuna Bella Fortuna is a proposed development district east of I-35 in Travis County.[/caption]

Mike Rodriguez, president of the Onion Creek Homeowners Association, said the neighborhood’s borders are contiguous to the tract under consideration for the new community.

“All the property under consideration this morning drains into Onion Creek,” he said.

A bill that is about to be submitted to the state Legislature aims to create a flood district that would include the Onion Creek neighborhood, he said, noting numerous other developments along I-35 could affect drainage as well.

Ken Jacob, a member of the Onion Creek HOA board and past member of the city of Austin’s Flood Mitigation Task Force, said the neighborhood is not objecting to the petition to establish the PID but wants to know more about plans.

About the improvement district

Landowners John Michael Buratti and Davey L. Buratti are petitioning to create the PID on a more than 158-acre property in the city of Austin's ETJ. Members of the Commissioners Court heard a presentation compiled by developer Cadence Development’s consultant, Development Planning & Financing Group Inc., on Dec. 20 about the proposed mixed-use, master-planned community.

Local Government Code Chapter 372 allows counties to create PIDS to help spur economic development in an area by providing a means to improve infrastructure and promote economic growth, according to county documents. Through the county’s PID program, it can provide for the financing of the costs of things that “benefit a definable part of the county with the costs borne by those landowners within the PID boundaries who receive special benefits from the public improvements or services," according to the county. PIDs have mainly been established by cities; the city of Austin has established PIDs downtown.

Bella Fortuna PID location Bella Fortuna PID location[/caption]

Jacob said residents want to work with the developers on ensuring flood mitigation is incorporated into the project plans rather than addressed as an afterthought.

Kathy Pillmore, a longtime South Austin resident and past Onion Creek HOA president, was president following the 2013 and 2015 floods that affected the neighborhood. She said increased traffic could make the area more dangerous if new infrastructure like widening Bradshaw Road is not addressed.

“Bradshaw Road [near the development] is a two-lane country road that is potted and … very hard to drive on,” she said.

Commissioner Brigid Shea said the Bella Fortuna district will come up again at future court meetings, and the court will work to keep Onion Creek residents informed.

“We need to do a better job of notifying surrounding communities and landowners when these PIDs are prepared,” Shea said.
By Kelli Weldon

Kelli joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter and has been covering Southwest Austin news since July 2012. She was promoted to editor of the Southwest Austin edition in April 2015. In addition to covering local businesses, neighborhood development, events, transportation and education, she is also the beat reporter covering the Travis County Commissioners Court.


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