Proposed 1,200-home Rutherford North development in Dripping Springs now on hold

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Progress on Rutherford North, a proposed 781-acre development on FM 967 in Dripping Springs’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, has been temporarily suspended by landowner Mike G. Rutherford Jr., according to a notice he mailed to the City of Dripping Springs on May 15.

Information about the proposed master-planned residential community–which includes plots for 1,252 homes, an amenities center and a wastewater treatment facility–was presented to Dripping Springs Planning and Zoning Commission on April 24.

At the meeting, residents from the neighboring communities of Oak Forrest, Hays Country Oaks 1, Hays Country Oaks 2, Elliot Ranch and Ruby Ranch voiced concerns about the development. Concerns included the dense configuration of homes in an otherwise rural area; possible flooding and runoff impacts based on impervious cover; and the development’s location in association to the Edwards Aquifer.

“There’s so much to this [proposed development],” Jeanine Inbody, a 15-year resident of Hays Country Oaks 2 whose property backs to the Rutherford land, told Community Impact Newspaper May 31. “It’s hard to understand why this would be a good development for our area.”

The most recent development agreement draft, dated April 4, includes provisions for housing, parks, open space, recreational areas, environmental and water quality protection, maximum density and impervious cover, outdoor lighting and signage. It also includes 31 variance requests for Dripping Springs, including variances for building setbacks; maximum impervious cover; lot widths and depths; minimum lot area; sidewalk; street standards; and cut and fill..

Inbody said concerns from residents include:

  • increased traffic: FM 967, a two-lane road that would be the main access point for the community, could see an estimated influx of 5,000 cars–approximately two per household–if the development is built.
  • flooding: The proposed development calls for a special exemption to allow 25 percent impervious cover. In Dripping Springs, 10 percent impervious cover is standard.
  • pollution: The proposed wastewater treatment plant for the development is located directly beside Little Bear Creek, which feeds into Onion Creek and Barton Springs. Area residents believe this could harm water quality.

“The impact of this is much larger than just to the local people around it,” she said. “All the runoff [from the wastewater treatment plant]would put pollutants directly into Barton Springs.”

An online petition declaring the proposed build as “a disaster for the aquifer, local landowners, and the region” had 418 signatures as of May 31.

Community Impact Newspaper contacted Rutherford on May 31. He declined to comment on the project’s status.

“I’m relieved that [the project is]on hold, but I don’t feel completely free from the threat of it,” Inbody said. “Until that land is protected from being built on, none of us can feel complete relief. This is just a pause.”

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COMMENT
  1. This proposal inclued an unprecedented number of entitlement variances to well established land development rules that are in place for the purpose of community protections and responsible land use. There is no justified reason the variances should be considered other than to increase profit of the developer at the expense of the community. Perhaps this was just a run at increasing the land value before it was to be sold to a prospective buyer. The aquifer could not handle the impact of the concentrated effluent of 1200 homes to be discharged directly over the barton springs recharge zone. In the event of a treatment plant failure the risks are too great to allow this deviation from existing rules in the the name of a sole owners desire to maximize return.

Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Jackson Buchanan is the editor for the Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She has a bachelor's and master's degree from The University of Texas.
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