Park at Bee Cave plans cleared for development at Hwy. 71 and RR 620

Lawsuit forces City Council to approve 2001 concept plan
More than a decade after creation, proposed site plans for the 16.8-acre Park at Bee Cave development were approved Oct. 28 by Bee Cave City Council.

The project is the brainchild of Bill Walters, CEO of development company Walters Southwest, who told council members the plan will feature offices, retail, restaurants and a financial institution.

The project is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of RR 620 and Hwy. 71 and adjoins an existing church and cemetery that will be preserved, Walters said.

Bee Cave City Council members said the September 2001 resolution of a lawsuit involving Walters' project left them no choice but to accept the site plan that includes removing 70 percent of the tract's trees, allowing 63 percent impervious cover and three driveways at already congested intersections.

"Bee Cave entered into a lawsuit in early 2000 trying to enforce the ordinances we had in place and were trying to put in place at that time," Mayor Caroline Murphy said. "We lost the lawsuit. This settlement agreement is the result of that lawsuit.

"There are pieces of [the agreement] that are hard to swallow, but it's something we fought about back then."

Walters said he began working on the project in early 2012 and purchased the property the following year. His company was not involved in the lawsuit, he said.

Walters said City Council denied two different plans he proposed for the tract, with one mixed-use project including condominiums and another anchored by a senior assisted-living facility.

Although the agreement allows an impervious cover cap of 75 percent, the current plan has a rate of 63.4 percent, Walters said. Additionally, the lighting proposal meets city standards for Bee Cave's dark skies community, he said.

Walters said the settlement allows him to modify the project up to final build-out as long as it complies with the standards stated in the 2001 agreement. Therefore, the impervious cover percentages and other project information in the site plan may change, he said.

"I am disappointed that the project has so much pavement on it," Councilwoman Kara King said. "[It's] such a beautiful piece of property and it had so much potential to create a truly amazing [development]—something that could be a testament to what you could build. Instead, well, basically we're doing Sunset Valley."

Two of the three driveways are full-access, a safety issue for motorists traveling on the congested RR 620, she said.

"This project just gives me heartburn," King said.

Businesses have submitted letters stating their intention to become tenants of the complex, but Walters said he has refused to make any agreements until the city grants a permit for the project.

Possible uses for the site include a florist, drapery or blinds shop, restaurant, antique shop, grocery, nursery and home improvement center, Murphy said.

"I guess the way I see the future playing out is we'll see a lot of site plan amendments," Councilman Bill Goodwin said. "We'll continue to have this settlement agreement used as a tool to beat us over the head because it's about as bad an agreement for the city—in this day and age—as you can get."

Walters said he is moving forward with the design of the project and plans to offer it for tenancy in early 2015.


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