Council approves 720-unit residential development

With a 6–1 vote Jan. 26, the Round Rock City Council approved a 720-unit residential development on University Boulevard nearly two months after initially rejecting the idea.

The council approved three measures effectively green-lighting the project: annexing the approximately 41-acre tract, approving zoning for the Planned Unit Development and approving a development agreement with Bartz Properties Limited Partnership for the construction of utilities and road improvements.

Mayor Pro Tem Carlos Salinas was the lone no vote, citing the density of the project coupled with the nearby multifamily zoning and existing apartment complex.

"I think my instinct tells me that it's a big complex," Salinas said. "If it were a stand-alone complex, I'd feel completely different."

The PUD zoning allows the complex 720 total dwelling units but only 600 apartments. The rest can be townhomes or senior living.

The project was initially sent back to the Planning and Zoning board in December when council members expressed concerns about the number of apartments included in the plan. Initially, all 720 units were planned as apartments.

At issue is the city's General Plan, which calls for an 80/20 split between single-family and mutlifamily housing, respectively. With this new complex, Round Rock would have a 73/27 split.

"I think we're getting at the limits of that range that we're setting," Mayor Alan McGraw said. "I think we're at the upper end of the range of where we need to be for a while."

City to implement flashing yellow arrow to reduce intersection accidents

The City of Round Rock plans to soon implement a new traffic signal display meant to provide a safer and more efficient left turn for drivers, city staff said at the Jan. 12 City Council meeting.

A flashing yellow arrow (FYA) left turn signal will replace the circular green indication for left turns at selected intersections. The flashing arrow will allow drivers to make a left turn when oncoming traffic is clear.

Round Rock Transportation Director Chad Wood said the purpose of the flashing yellow arrow is to solve the left-turn trap problem, dubbed the "amber trap." The trap, he explained, occurs when a left-turning driver coming from the direction that received the yellow and red signal thinks that both directions of traffic got a yellow light at the same time. The driver believes opposing cars will stop and makes a turn across traffic that still has a green light, thus causing an accident.

"It's going to reduce 30 [percent] to 40 percent of amber trap–type accidents," Wood said.