Zoning request to relocate Dripping Springs Rental Center denied by City Council

Residents line up to speak during public comment in Dripping Springs on Aug. 13.

Residents line up to speak during public comment in Dripping Springs on Aug. 13.

After numerous residents spoke up about concerns regarding noise, traffic safety and transient day workers, Dripping Springs City Council on Aug. 13 denied a zoning change for a 1.25-acre site at the northwest corner of RR 12 and Whisenant Lane.

Buddy Lewis—a longtime resident and the owner of Dripping Springs Rental Center— had requested a change to commercial services zoning, which would have allowed him to build a new 3,600-square-foot facility to relocate his business to.

“I’ve been in business for 26 years, but I’m not done,” Lewis said, joined in the council chambers with other employees and family members to support his pitch. “Going forward I need to own my own property so I can continue my business for my employees and my family.”

Dripping Springs Rental Center has been located at 299 Mercer St., Dripping Springs, since 1993. The business offers rentable equipment, from power tools to construction equipment, with customers picking up and dropping off the equipment at the site.

"This council, on multiple occasions, has said you have to protect the local mom and pop businesses that make Dripping Springs what it is,” developer Jon Thompson said. “I can think of few people who actually personify that standard more than Buddy Lewis.”

The new site is located within a 7-acre tract for the future Harrison Hills Business Park, currently zoned for general retail. According to Thompson, allowed uses for the zoning include fast-food restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores, and repair shops and indoor equipment rental businesses.

Although rental businesses are allowed to operate in general retail zoning, those that store equipment outside are only allowed in commercial services zoning, he said.

"Mr. Lewis could actually build a big enough building to put everything inside of it and do it without any variances," Thompson said. "Alternatively, Mr. Lewis could build a more aesthetically pleasing building [as requested] for that same use that is closer to the scale of the uses around him."

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds said the initial zoning was put in place because "commercial services is never appropriate next to a neighborhood," but a buffer between the project and neighborhood and the nature of the project itself made the decision difficult.

"What [will have] the least impact on the community and neighborhood? It might be this [current proposal] instead of a larger barn," Council Member Travis Crow said. "That's the answer we have to sit up here and decide."

City Council also expressed that Lewis' reputation in the community as a positive role model made them feel he would do what was necessary to appease neighbors, including fencing and landscaping to mitigate sound and visual disturbances. However, Council Member Taline Manassian said council could not make a decision based on the character of the applicant.

"We have to look at what is appropriate for this area," she said.

Although council voted to deny the application, it opened the door for a potential planned development agreement for the project in the future. An agreement could require certain elements be included in the development that could mitigate impact on neighbors or limit what could be built there in the future.
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


MOST RECENT

Austin's phased process for moving people experiencing homelessness out of unregulated encampments will roll out through the summer. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
City officials detail homeless education and enforcement plan with Proposition B ordinances now in effect

The process that will eventually remove the city's homeless encampment begins this month with outreach and warnings and will stretch until late summer with full enforcement.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

Susan Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. (Courtesy American Medical Association)
'I am convinced we will beat COVID': American Medical Association President Susan Bailey discusses vaccine successes, myths, challenges

Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. Much of the organization's focus during that time has been on vaccine transparency and distribution.

Valentina’s offers breakfast and lunch tacos as well as barbecue. (Courtesy Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ)
South Austin's Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ will move to Buda in next year

The business announced it will be moving within the next year.

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

I-35 traffic
State now accepting public input on North Austin I-35 overhaul project

The public now has the ability to review and provide feedback on planning materials for a $400 million I-35 project.

Austin Bouldering Project currently operates a gym on Springdale Road in Austin. (Courtesy Austin Bouldering Project)
Local rock-climbing gym to open new location in South Austin this fall

The new gym will have comparable offerings to the original in East Austin.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.