Updated: Leander City Council approves Hero Way site rezoning

Updated 10:30 a.m. CDT Aug. 22



On Aug. 21, Leander City Council approved rezoning a 41-acre property north of Hero Way from single-family rural use to heavy commercial use by a vote of 5-2.



Mayor Chris Fielder and Place 4 Council Ron Abruzzese cast no votes.



City Council's initial approval of the rezoning on Aug. 8 was unanimous. During the following weekend, some Hero Way residents created a Facebook page under the name www.saveheroway.com and signed their names to an online petition. Resident Karen Hickam spoke to council on Aug. 8 and 21.



"The developer for this property has not presented any conceptual plan whatsoever of what he plans to do," Hickam said Aug. 21.



The rezoning vote restricts certain uses otherwise allowed under heavy commercial zoning such as outdoor entertainment, pawn shops and sexually oriented businesses, but allows uses such as indoor manufacturing and outdoor storage. Applicant Ryan Betz, manager of commercial real estate firm Betz Co., said Larson Commercial plans to build a business park on the property.



Hero Way residents Denise and Andrew Lewis said the two-lane Hero Way cannot support traffic for any heavy commercial development.



"There's no infrastructure to support it; the road is too narrow," Denise Lewis said, adding that trucks on Hero Way often cross into opposite lanes or slide off-road.



Andrew Lewis said business noise on the site would carry into surrounding neighborhoods.



"[With] the topography of this land, there's no sound buffers anywhere to the east," he said. "There is a string of trees on the west side of the property, but on the east side, it's basically up on a hill. I think the sound issue needs to be addressed."



Tom Yantis, Leander director of development services, said heavy commercial zoning use does not allow outdoor construction or manufacturing. City ordinances would also require the site developer to add landscape screening where it doesn't already exist, Yantis said.



Place 6 Councilman David Siebold said he was concerned about the proposed structures' exterior masonry standards—the city's requirement that buildings include a certain percentage of rock or stone, such as for the sides that are visible from the road. Siebold made an alternate motion to approve rezoning but with fewer allowances for outdoor storage buildings and more restrictions on building appearances. But Siebold's idea died after no other council member seconded the motion.



Before the discussion and votes, Fielder addressed criticisms of City Council's Aug. 8 vote. At first council members voted to postpone a rezoning decision, then after a meeting recess City Council returned to the issue and approved rezoning conditional on the land-use restrictions.



"The way that the rules work is that anyone who makes the motion or is on the winning side of the item you have the right to bring that [item] back up the same night," Fielder said.



On Aug. 21, City Council unanimously approved a voluntary annexation of the 42-acre site.



However, council voted 5-2—with Fielder and Siebold voting no—in favor of rezoning a separate 6.42-acre property south of Hero Way from single-family rural to heavy industrial use. The new zoning allows for outdoor manufacturing yet includes use restrictions similar to the 42-acre site. Leander-based Fab-Con Products Inc. owns the 6.42-acre tract.



Original story posted 11:51 a.m. CDT Aug. 20



On Aug. 21, Leander City Council plans a final vote to rezone a 41-acre tract between CR 270 and the Palmera Ridge subdivision from single-family rural use to heavy commercial use.



Applicant Ryan Betz, manager of commercial real estate firm Betz Co., said Larson Commercial wants to build an office park on the site. On Aug. 8, City Council gave initial approval to the site's rezoning. The property is north of Hero Way and owned by Charles and Arleen Wilde.



Uses allowed under heavy commercial zoning include office parks, indoor manufacturing, lumber yards, storage facilities and wrecker impoundment. City Council initially approved the rezoning Aug. 8 with stipulations such as the site cannot host businesses for animal boarding, bingo, payday lending, outdoor entertainment, or body-piercing or tattoos, which are otherwise allowed in heavy commercial zoning.



Several Hero Way residents spoke against the proposed rezoning on Aug. 8 and some organized a website—saveheroway.com, which redirects to a Facebook page—and an online petition that has 87 signatures as of Aug. 20.



City Council's Aug. 21 meeting agenda also includes a second reading for voluntary annexation of the Wilde land after two public hearings on July 3 and July 17 and a first reading on Aug. 8.



For Aug. 21 council members also scheduled a final vote on rezoning another 6.42-acre property south of Hero Way. That site is owned by Noel Larson, proprietor of the Leander-based business Fab-Con Products Inc. which retails equipment and parts for boats, RVs and trailers. Larson is represented by Betz, who requested the site be rezoned from single-family rural use to heavy industrial use. Prohibited uses for the Larson property would include bingo, body piercing or tattoos, hookah lounges, pawning, payday lending and sexually oriented businesses.



Planned annexations



On Aug. 21, City Council plans to vote on three annexations that, if approved, would add a total of about 245 acres to the Leander city limits.



  • City Council plans a second reading for voluntary annexation of the 121-acre Greatwood subdivision on CR 280 west of CR 279.

  • City Council plans a first reading for voluntary annexation of a 10-acre site next to the Reagan's overlook subdivision north of RM 2243 and west of Ronald Reagan Boulevard. A second and final vote is scheduled for the council's Sept. 4 meeting.

  • City Council plans a first reading for voluntary annexation of two properties that total 113.372 acres southeast of Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Bradley Ranch Road. A final vote is scheduled for the council's Sept. 4 meeting.