Travis County OKs controversial 678-home neighborhood bound for Hamilton Pool Road

Travis County commissioners heard one final presentation on the list of project candidates for the proposed 2017 bond referendum. Commissioners plans to take final action Aug. 8.

Travis County commissioners heard one final presentation on the list of project candidates for the proposed 2017 bond referendum. Commissioners plans to take final action Aug. 8.

The preliminary plan for the first phase of Provence, a proposed neighborhood in western Travis County, received a unanimous green light March 7 from Travis County Commissioners Court.

The neighborhood, slated for about 460 acres in the 17024 block of Hamilton Pool Road, will include 678 single-family lots, one amenity lot, 22 open space lots and two utility lots.

The tract is located just outside of the extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, of the city of Bee Cave, which in December designated its section of Hamilton Pool Road to be low-density.

Travis County approved the project’s master development plan in 2014 for a total of 1,637 lots, said Jim Meredith, founder of the site’s developer, Masonwood HP.

A 703-lot development, Provence, is planned for a Hamilton Pool Road tract in western Travis County, just outside of the boundaries of Bee Cave. A 703-lot development, Provence, is planned for a Hamilton Pool Road tract in western Travis County, just outside of the boundaries of Bee Cave.[/caption]

On Nov. 26, 2013, Bee Cave City Council passed a resolution opposing the project’s original plan on 911 acres. Council members cited risk of water pollution from the project set on the banks of Little Barton Creek, a waterway that runs through the city of Bee Cave; safety concerns over two-lane Hamilton Pool Road that lacks shoulders and “is not constructed to handle the increased traffic” stemming from the new residents; and overcrowding in the local schools from the added population.

James Koerner, representing Hamilton Pool Road Matters—a neighborhood group opposed to the Masonwood development for concerns over water quality and traffic safety—said the organization will continue to have eyes on the project.

“They still have to go through a final plat approval, and the county can still deny that if that final plat approval doesn’t support the PUA’s environmental requirements,” he said. “We’ll continue to monitor that closely.”

Under an approved agreement with the county, Masonwood is obligated to provide eastbound and westbound deceleration lanes off Hamilton Pool Road onto the project at two intersections, a secondary emergency access point and traffic signals at two points of entry.

Water will be supplied by the West Travis County Public Utility Agency; however the WTCPUA granted Masonwood 700 living unit equivalents, or LUEs—enough to fulfill the water requirements of only Phase 1 of the project, Meredith said. Originally, the project included 1,800 lots, he said.

Masonwood requested the WTCPUA provide an additional 1,137 LUEs on a different 451-acre tract of the development parcel, WTCPUA board member Bill Goodwin said. Goodwin is also mayor pro tem of Bee Cave City Council.

“[The request] is on the preliminary agenda for the next board meeting,” he said of the March 16 meeting at Bee Cave City Hall.

In addition to the 700 LUEs previously granted by the WTCPUA, Masonwood’s requested LUEs tally 1,837 LUEs, Goodwin said. A single-family home uses about one LUE, and LUEs vary given commercial and retail building uses, he said.

To satisfy its water requirements, Masonwood is funding a new elevated storage tank in Phase 1 of Provence, Goodwin said. This facility will provide greater fire protection and water storage to the project as well as other existing neighborhoods along Hamilton Pool Road, he said.

Although Precinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea voted to approve the project, she said Texas counties have no real ability to deny a subdivision application.

“The counties literally have no ability to deny a subdivision application,” she said. “The only things that we can really push back on is: Is there adequate water for firefighting, and is there more than one way in and one way out. That’s about it.”

Shea said she had reservations about the development possessing adequate water for firefighting.

“Everyone has had this experience,” she said. “You’re in the shower and somebody flushes the commode, and your water pressure drops. Well, all those communities out along that line and if there’s a fire and a community up the line from you turns on the taps to try to put out a house fire, you don’t have much water pressure in your subdivision.

“Because the state does not allow us to deny subdivisions; there are concerns like this; we’re literally putting people in harm’s way by approving these subdivisions. We have to do a better job in this state of planning growth.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty voiced his concerns over traffic safety on the roadway.

"I’ve certainly been on record for a long time saying I think Hamilton Pool Road needs to be a three-lane road with at least 6-foot shoulders," he said. "The third lane would be a center turn lane. I still think the county [portion of the] road is very dangerous because it has no shoulders; the line of sights are very difficult. Just going out there making any improvements is very difficult. There is a faction out there that want you to do absolutely nothing because I think they think that if you make improvements to roadway, it encourages growth.

"Listen, I understand you don’t want this kind of project out there. If I lived out there on a ranchette or if I lived out there and loved that little piece of heaven I had, a project like this will severely change the makeup of Hamilton Pool Road. Western Travis County has been discovered the last 10 years. Look at the school district out there—it is a very desirous area for people to want to go out and live. I can see why you don’t want that, but the only way to get around that is to go and buy the property."