Proposed bond timeline established, continued discussion on limiting home sizes, and more news from the Feb. 13 West Lake Hills City Council meeting

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City Council reviews timeline for proposed November bond election

Progress on a pending November bond election picked up at the Feb. 13 West Lake Hills City Council meeting.

The proposed $15 million to $20 million bond would fund a variety of capital improvement projects. The following tentative timeline was brought before council:

Feb. 13: Select bond counsel (Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP was selected at the Feb. 13 City Council meeting)

First week of March: Engineering firm delivers flood plain data to architects
March–April: Work with Financial Adviser and Bond Counsel to determine best type of debt to issue and to decide if Disclosure Counsel and/or Underwriter will be necessary

April 10: Council finalizes list of proposed projects; Council appoints bond advisory committee

Week of April 15: Special meeting to discuss report from architects

Week of April 24: City Council adopts formal debt policy; financial advisers and bond counsel explain the debt issuance; process to council and advisory committee and overview the city’s draft debt policy

Week of April 29: Meeting of the bond advisory committee

Week of May 13: Meeting of the bond advisory committee

May 22: Recommendation from bond advisory committee presented to City Council

June 3: Special called meeting to receive input from public on recommended list of projects

June 12: Council adopts final list of projects to be on ballot

July: Plan and schedule public education meetings, mail outs, website content and more

August 14: Council adopts ordinance calling for November bond election

August–November: Public education regarding bond proposition

Nov. 5: Bond election

Talk continues on how to avoid prolonged construction projects

Council continued to discuss ways to address lengthy residential construction projects at the Feb. 13 meeting.

After discussion on the topic at the Dec. 12 and Jan. 9 meeting, council directed staff to review various options to address the issue.

The following are meant to encourage owners and project applicants to complete residential construction projects for new homes in a timely manner, avoid numerous permit extensions and help offset the impact of construction on city resources, a staff report said.

Proposed strategies:

  1. If the project requires more than one permit extension, the owner and contractor must attend a City Council meeting to explain the circumstances and the reason an extension is needed before the city will issue another permit extension.
  2. Escalating permit fees: Additional fees could be imposed for permit extensions and will increase for each additional extension requested.
    a. First extension: 1.5 x original permit fee
    b. Second extension: 2.5 x original permit fee
    c. Third extension: 3 x original permit fee (permit fee amounts will need to be reviewed by the city attorney)
  3. Require an on‐site construction supervisor to be present for a certain amount of time during construction process. This may be a requirement for larger homes (i.e. 6,000 square feet and greater)
  4. Require the project applicant to submit a proposed construction schedule with permit application and provide a quarterly update to staff for progress review

As a next step, City Attorney Alan Bojorquez will review all four of the recommendations to ensure legality before bringing the items back before council.

Several options for limiting home sizes under consideration

Council also re-addressed changing city code to limit single-family home sizes.

Currently the only limiting factors are building setback requirements and impervious cover limitations. As with the building permits agenda item, city staff provided strategies for the city to consider. The goal would be to limit home sizes in order to lessen the impact of new homes on neighborhoods and preserve the unique characteristics of West Lake Hills, a staff report said.

Proposed strategies:

  1. Adopt overlay zoning districts on a neighborhood‐by‐neighborhood basis at homeowners’ request to limit home sizes. The city’s neighborhood boundaries will need to be defined and mapped (a similar process is followed for historical districts). The city would need to receive requests from 65 percent of neighborhood residents to consider creating the zoning overlay.
  2. Escalating side setbacks for lots 1.25 acres and greater
  3. Limit the number of accessory structures per lot, such as a shed, guest house, workshop, sport court, and more.
  4. Establish a square footage threshold that would trigger special review for proposed residential construction meeting or exceeding the threshold. This could include review/approval by the Building Design Committee and potentially also the Zoning & Planning Commission and City Council.

Click here to see the city’s map of residential lot sizes.

Per Council’s request, Coordinator of Building and Development Services Anjali Naini was asked to research if other small, topographically challenged/varied cities like West Lake Hills have home size limitations and if so, what exactly their policies consist of.

Council acknowledged if home size regulations are set then the public, including potential residents and builders, will need to be made aware of the changes.

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Sally Grace Holtgrieve
Sally Grace Holtgrieve solidified her passion for news during her time as Editor-in-Chief of Christopher Newport University's student newspaper, The Captain's Log. She started her professional career at The Virginia Gazette and moved to Texas in 2015 to cover government and politics at The Temple Daily Telegram. She started working at Community Impact Newspaper in February 2018 as the Lake Travis-Westlake reporter and moved into the role of Georgetown editor in June 2019.
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