The developer is requesting two transportation variances that would extend a dead-end street further than the allotted 2,000 feet and eliminate the requirement that a new subdivision have at least two access streets that are each connected to different external street.
The county's Transportation and Natural Resources staff are recommending the commissioners approve the plan based on the fact that it has been reviewed and approved by the Travis County fire marshal and has undergone a traffic impact analysis study.
Paul Linehan, an architect representing developer Dave Matthews, made a presentation in April highlighting the features of the proposed subdivision, which includes 85 lots, a greenbelt/open space area, a water detention pond, four water quality/drainage lots, and seven new public streets.
Some concerns raised by residents regarding traffic increases, Slaughter Creek water degradation and fire protection were addressed, Linehan said. He added that although residents have asked for a 75-foot vegetative buffer along the borderline of the properties, he is only proposing 25 feet.
“We’re going to stay back from those homes and leave that buffer,” Linehan said. “The neighborhood asked for 75 feet and I thought that was a little overboard, but I think 25 feet is appropriate.”
Residents who testified on Tuesday still expressed concerns related to the safety and health of the community.
Shannon Owen, a Zyle Road resident, said the proposed development would change the dynamic of the community.
“We’ve all been there since the '70s and we’re ranchers,” Owen said. “We love the water, the animals…This is not an area that can support 85 homes, especially Slaughter Creek...”
Sam Leonard, another Zyle Road resident, voiced his concerns for fire and traffic safety.
“I have two young girls and I just want to keep it safe for them,” Leonard said.
Bobby Lloyd, who also lives on Zyle Road, echoed a similar sentiment about the safety of residents and the preservation of the community’s atmosphere.
“My granddaughter loves to ride her bike and that probably won’t happen anymore if this subdivision happens,” Lloyd said. “I’m concerned about what this will do to the small road and the lifestyle we’ve been living for the last 15 years.”
Resident Elizabeth Cubberley said her concern was not just the potential lifestyle change and fire hazards, but flood risks as well.
“There are five spots over Zyle Road that had flooding issues,” Cubberley said. “When we have [rain] like this, Slaughter Creek floods. There are four separate neighborhoods that would not be able to exit safely and this would be the fifth development and would be an undue burden to residents in the area.”
Residents also expressed some concerns with congestion in the event of a fire and the safety of children crossing the street to load the bus.
Linehan said his staff has looked at flooding, traffic and fire protection for the development and will continue to work with residents to find a middle ground.
“We are trying to make Zyle Road as safe as we can make it and address the concerns of the residents,” Linehan said. “We do not want to hurt anyone. The intent is to make a place for people to live.”
Commissioners took no action on the variances in order to have more time to fully understand the issue.
Commissioner for the southwest portion of Travis County Gerald Daugherty said neighbors deserve a safe place to live while still being able to walk and recreate. He suggested adding the issue to the July 25 agenda.
“The reason I am saying to wait until the end of July is because I am putting together information that I need in the event this is voted out of this court,” Daugherty said. “There is a legitimate safety issue with this project. The court is probably looking to the Precinct 3 commissioner to determine how to move this thing forward and that is what I’m prepared to do."