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Wednesday, 22nd October 2014

in Bee Cave TX 78738

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PUA makes decisions on Masonwood and beyond

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(Revised) Slated to be a short meeting, today's WTCPUA (our local water authority) meeting went on for more than four hours. It appeared mostly confused and often divided on how to deal with the water issues related to "Masonwoood West" and future area developments. MW is the 1,600 home development slated for the Hatchett Tract off Hamilton Pool Road.

 

An initial audience of 40-50 people at Bee Cave City Hall dwindled slowly as the meeting dragged on. Despite lots of public comments and the appearance of another team of attorneys (hired by the group protesting the development - HPR Matters), the meeting struggled to hold the attention of the audience and get to the crux of the issues.

 

After almost three hours the Board went in to Executive Session and returned after about 45 minutes to attempt to craft multiple motions in public view. Director Bill Goodwin's quick attempt to rescind the letter to the developers from late 2013 did not even get a second and died on the floor. The letter remains contentious - with the Board claiming it is only a conditional offer and others claiming that the County is relying on it as part of the approval process.

 

Then followed an agonizingly detailed debate about what the new polices would be for the PUA granting of future water supply agreement. The key issues remained which standard they should apply and where. Attempts to extend the exceptions that Bee Cave enjoyed to Dripping Springs also threatened to derail parts of the process.

 

After much toing and froing, the vote went 4-1 in favor of a new set of policies based on the more lenient "OEM"/Optional Environmental Measures (crafted in 2005) not the stricter "MOU"/Memorandum of Understanding dating back to 2000. Those rules would be applied to the entire service area and beyond but exclude the City of Bee Cave and its current ETJ area. The MOU defines Impervious cover limits and Stream buffer setbacks whereas the OEMs define Stream buffer setbacks and Water quality structures (ponds).

 

The Board also voted unanimously to amend the developer's offer letter to confirm that compliance with the OEM rules would be a condition of any water supply agreement. The key question now is exactly how many homes they could now plat onto the land and meet the OEM. The developer has - in the past - claimed it already does.

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That makes Rocky Creek Ranch South a go.
VOTES:0
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Anonymous wrote:
That makes Rocky Creek Ranch South a go.

That assumes that (1) Masonwood West continues without a hitch and; (2) Puryear tract can get water and afford the additional expense going down Crumley Ranch Road. Both assumptions are highly suspect. But nice red herring.
VOTES:0
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Puryear tract can get water and afford the additional expense going down Crumley Ranch Road.

Not a problem. The new MUD can condemn a waterline easement direct to the line located in Rocky Creek Ranch like the LCRA did for Rocky Creek Ranch and Belvedere.
VOTES:0
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Anonymous wrote:
Puryear tract can get water and afford the additional expense going down Crumley Ranch Road.

Not a problem. The new MUD can condemn a waterline easement direct to the line located in Rocky Creek Ranch like the LCRA did for Rocky Creek Ranch and Belvedere.

Assuming the MUD doesn't get contested. Whomever acquires Puryear Tract is in for a hell of a fight. Hope they're ready to hunker down.
VOTES:0
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They are also going to have to install their own elevated water storage for fire protection since the PUA does not provide fire flow and the county requires all new subdivisions to have fire protection.

The fire marshal might require Rocky Creek Ranch to add fire protection as well before approving the next phase.
VOTES:0
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The PUA Board cowered at a baseless threat of a lawsuit. Plain and simple.
VOTES:1
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Anonymous wrote:
They are also going to have to install their own elevated water storage for fire protection since the PUA does not provide fire flow and the county requires all new subdivisions to have fire protection.

The fire marshal might require Rocky Creek Ranch to add fire protection as well before approving the next phase.

Rocky Creek is grandfathered when their master plan was approved. The changes for fire flows do not affect Rocky Creek.
VOTES:0
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Not according to the fire marshal. It's a public safety issue.
VOTES:0
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The language in the article stating that the OEMs define impervious cover percentages is incorrect.
VOTES:0
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Carrell Killebrew Thursday, 09 January 2014
In the end, it appeared that political umbrage by a Dripping Springs representative over the fact that Bee Cave was exempted from the MOU unraveled the promising effort by Bill Goodwin to apply the MOU and not the OEMs for virtually all PUA water services. It was very clear that Mr. Meredith and his lawyer Mr. McClean were opposed to applying the MOU, particularly after they claimed that the current plan is completely in compliance with the OEMs, and denying that they had previously made such claims.

Scott Roberts from Hays County attempted to amend Goodwin's motion to give Dripping Springs the same language as Bee Cave. Of note during the discussion was that Scott Roberts spoke at length against the PUA doing anything that had anything that had any land-use planning impact, stating that developers should get plat approvals from the County and water quality approvals from TCEQ, and then and only then would ask the PUA for water, which if the PUA had capacity, the PUA should grant. Karen Huber, former Pct.#3 Commissioner, spoke against the development, and Mr. Roberts assertions, stating that because Travis County has very little authority, developers could pretty much do anything they wanted, and that water was the only limiting factor, therefore the PUA should exercise that leverage to moderate development behavior.

Roberts’ amendment failed substantially because the MOU specifically calls out the US290 pipeline, and concerns that would violate a court ordered settlement. After that amendment failed on a 2-2 vote, with Hays County (Roberts, Whisenant) voting FOR, Bee Cave voting AGAINST (Goodwin, Murphy), and MUD#5 ABSTAINing (Fox). The Hays County representatives, along with Fox and Murphy voted AGAINST Goodwin's motion.

Murphy then offered a motion which required everyone but Bee Cave to abide by either the MOUs or the OEMs. All except Goodwin voted FOR.

Goodwin then moved to rescind the Hatchettville letter, and it died immediately for a lack of a second.

My opinion is that some of the Directors arguments for voting as they did are flawed, and that fundamentally they are not acting in the interests expressed by the PUA's rate-payers and constituents.

That area of HPR, if this continues forward, will soon look like Bella Colinas, another Meredith project. No doubt Hatchett is happy as well.
VOTES:0
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Carrell Killebrew wrote:
Scott Roberts from Hays County attempted to amend Goodwin's motion to give Dripping Springs the same language as Bee Cave. Of note during the discussion was that Scott Roberts spoke at length against the PUA doing anything that had anything that had any land-use planning impact, stating that developers should get plat approvals from the County and water quality approvals from TCEQ, and then and only then would ask the PUA for water, which if the PUA had capacity, the PUA should grant.

I agree with Roberts except that the county requires the applicant to declare the source of water for the development as part of the approval process, therefore the PUA needs to provide an availability letter.

The PUA is a utility, subject to the Texas Water Code. It has a duty to supply water, without prejudice.
VOTES:0
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What I don't understand is why Goodwin wants to exempt the City of Bee Cave and ETJ from the water quality measures.
VOTES:-1
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I agree with Roberts except that the county requires the applicant to declare the source of water for the development as part of the approval process, therefore the PUA needs to provide an availability letter.

The PUA is a utility, subject to the Texas Water Code. It has a duty to supply water, without prejudice.

Yes, the PUA is subject to the water code. Meredith and Mclean will soon wipe the smirks off their smug faces. Enjoy the short lived victory fellas.
VOTES:3
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Anonymous wrote:
That makes Rocky Creek Ranch South a go.

The Puryear Tract, if it happens, is not associated with Rocky Creek. Gerald D. Hines is the potential developer and they would be a competitor to Rocky Creek or Belvedere. They need to clear a lot of hurdles if they were to purchase the property.
VOTES:3
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I expect that they will flip the contract to Hillwood just after the last phase of Rocky Creek Ranch is underway. Expanding the existing sewer plant and spray fields would be less expensive for Hillwood than Hines starting from scratch.
VOTES:-3
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Carrell Killebrew Thursday, 09 January 2014
Anonymous wrote:
What I don't understand is why Goodwin wants to exempt the City of Bee Cave and ETJ from the water quality measures.

Two things:
(1) The City of Bee Cave and its ordinances predate the MOU. The NPS ordinances of Bee Cave are more restrictive than those imposed by the MOU or the less stringent OEMs. Why would anyone want something less restrictive where water quality is concerned out here?
(2) The MOU was never intended to apply to the City of Bee Cave. There should be a fundamental reason why Bee Cave's sovereignty should be encroached upon. None was suggested or given.

This whole episode sort of begs the question as to why this was even an issue, other than political pique or the sense that somehow Dripping Springs was not getting the love.

I can't figure out why Dripping Springs objected in the first place - the MOU is already in effect in there. Nothing in the PUA Tariffs changed with respect to Dripping Springs in the slightest. If anything, Dripping Springs should have pushed hard for the MOU, and not the OEMs, in the PUA Tariffs.

Why? Dripping Springs is now economically disadvantaged compared to areas not along the US290 corridor, as developers outside of that corridor can apply the significantly looser OEMS.

In my opinion, the Hays County representatives didn't think this out thoroughly before they voted today.
That being said, I don't know all the Hays County & Dripping Springs issues, so I could be missing something... But if whoever this "Anonymous" poster is, if you have some information or data, please enlighten us all.
VOTES:6
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If this pua cannot supply the area then the developer may be able to go through the state and petition to start a bigger pua that can serve the area further out limiting our current ability to have any control.
VOTES:0
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If you want control then buy the land.
VOTES:-1
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Scott Roberts, owner of Salt Lick, changed his position out of his own self-interest. His Onion Creek development plans likely would have been negatively impacted by applying the MOU to the entire service area. Hence...his retreat from the November Board Meeting.
VOTES:2
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Anonymous wrote:
If this pua cannot supply the area then the developer may be able to go through the state and petition to start a bigger pua that can serve the area further out limiting our current ability to have any control.

The developer is free to file an application with TCEQ to develop his own MUD for wastewater and water. He can then get his own water allocations from the LCRA, build his own transmission lines, and build his own water treatment plant. That's a great idea. Pass it on to Masonwood.
VOTES:7
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Anonymous wrote:
I expect that they will flip the contract to Hillwood just after the last phase of Rocky Creek Ranch is underway. Expanding the existing sewer plant and spray fields would be less expensive for Hillwood than Hines starting from scratch.

Not a bad idea but Hillwood doesn't control MUD 16. There is nothing in it for MUD 16. Further, existing settlement agreements that paved the way for Rocky Creek would prevent expansion of MUD 16.
VOTES:0
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Carrell Killebrew Friday, 10 January 2014
Anonymous wrote:
Scott Roberts, owner of Salt Lick, changed his position out of his own self-interest. His Onion Creek development plans likely would have been negatively impacted by applying the MOU to the entire service area. Hence...his retreat from the November Board Meeting.

I've heard a similar comment from somewhere else. Why wasn't Mr. Roberts recused from all discussion as well as voting on this items, given the appearance/potential/actual conflict of interest? Why wasn't this disclosed at the PUA meeting?
VOTES:3
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[quote=Carrell KillebrewDripping Springs is now economically disadvantaged compared to areas not along the US290 corridor, as developers outside of that corridor can apply the significantly looser OEMS.[/quote]

Much to my chagrin, someone with an informed perspective has offered the opinion that because of yesterday's PUA motion, Dripping Springs can now apply the significantly looser OEMs than the MOU.

This is not a good development, and is one that is likely to contribute to a worsening Barton Springs/Creek watershed environment.

I hope this is wrong/incorrect.
VOTES:0
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Carrell Killebrew wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Scott Roberts, owner of Salt Lick, changed his position out of his own self-interest. His Onion Creek development plans likely would have been negatively impacted by applying the MOU to the entire service area. Hence...his retreat from the November Board Meeting.

I've heard a similar comment from somewhere else. Why wasn't Mr. Roberts recused from all discussion as well as voting on this items, given the appearance/potential/actual conflict of interest? Why wasn't this disclosed at the PUA meeting?

Did you expect him to follow one of the few PUA policies that actually exists (The PUA Ethics Policy)?
VOTES:3
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
If this pua cannot supply the area then the developer may be able to go through the state and petition to start a bigger pua that can serve the area further out limiting our current ability to have any control.

The developer is free to file an application with TCEQ to develop his own MUD for wastewater and water. He can then get his own water allocations from the LCRA, build his own transmission lines, and build his own water treatment plant. That's a great idea. Pass it on to Masonwood.

That is likely to happen but Masonwood West doesn't need to participate in the new PUA when there is already a water supply available from the WTCPUA. At least this way the existing customers of the WTCPUA get the benefit of some of their existing infrastructure burden being shared with the new Masonwood West development. Reducing the WTCPUA debt by $10+M (impact fees) and spreading operations costs onto another 1800 taps could actually lower rates.

Now if they could only make some progress on distributing and selling treated effluent to begging customers instead of telling them to drill water wells for irrigation. Water is a terrible thing to waste by not recycling.
VOTES:1
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Impact fees are dependent on the developer actually being able to build and sell 1,600+ homes. Lots of nearby competition in the anticipated price range and that competition isn't selling out as most people have been led to believe. Impact fees are paid at the time of lot platting which means they are spread out over time and are to recover costs associated with bringing water to the development and homes themselves -- thus the impact fees are not quite so impactful on rates, but nice try at spreading more misinformation.
VOTES:0
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Perhaps Mr. Goodwin can enlighten.
VOTES:1
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Anonymous wrote:
If you want control then buy the land.

Something like John Hatchett buying the land to be a conservation developer, supposedly, and then selling out to a cookie-cutter developer Masonwood.
VOTES:4
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I don't think he bought the land to become a developer, of any sort. He just didn't want to have a bunch more neighbors and that happened anyway. He has the same options as just about anyone else in the area, he can sell the place and move. People do it all the time.
VOTES:-1
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Anonymous wrote:
I don't think he bought the land to become a developer, of any sort. He just didn't want to have a bunch more neighbors and that happened anyway. He has the same options as just about anyone else in the area, he can sell the place and move. People do it all the time.

Then you don't know the backstory about how John Hatchett became the "hero of Hamilton Pool Road." Mr. Hatchett has gone from hero to zero with what many consider backstabbing behavior.
VOTES:7

 

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