Fix Hwy 71: We need your help

Spicewood Community Alliance Members,

Highway 71 west of the Pedernales River continues to experience a significant increase in automobile and heavy industry truck traffic.  With this increase in mix use traffic come higher related traffic deaths.  As Constable Toby Miller recently stated, "There are no minor wrecks on Highway 71."   

asphalt spill compressed small.jpg

Just last Friday,

Hwy 71 was closed for two hours in front of Asphalt Inc. due to a large asphalt spill from a truck turning left onto the highway.  We were extremely fortunate no-one was injured.

TxDOT has a plan that is currently unfunded to widen a three mile stretch of Highway 71 from the Pedernales River bridge to the Blanco County line.  The plan is to install a center turn lane and improved shoulders.  

TxDOT does not foresee community interest to justify the SH71 widening to continue beyond Blanco county into Burnet County.  Let's prove them wrong!  

Joe Don Dockery, Commissioner Precinct 4, has been trying to convince TxDot there is definitely interest, and hopes to ride the coattails of the widening in Travis County to get a center turn lane installed all the way to Hwy 281.  Spicewood Community Alliance, a subsidiary of Save Our Spicewood, is helping to advocate for the widening of SH71 through Burnet County to US Highway 281 (US281).  We urge all Spicewoodians and all users of SH71 to help.

While an uphill task, with full community support, the highway widening is possible.  And, when supplemented with the Spicewood Emergency Medical Station from Emergency Services District No. 9 (coming in 2018), and the recent upgrades to the 911 emergency system, the growth from Scott and White Hospital on western SH71 (just west of US281) on these infrastructure improvements will go a long way in making our Spicewood Community safer for all.

We ask every one of you to go on-line to http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved.html and leave your statement in the "Contact Us" dialogue box (please send to both Austin and Marble Falls) and/or call Cathy Kratz, our local TxDOT engineer at (512) 756-2316.  Make your voice heard.   It is important that we have a very large number of persons to show they are concerned about Hwy71, so please take action today.  Email TxDOT, call Ms. Kratz, or both. 

Feel free to copy and paste the short paragraph below.  It will fit in the limited space for your email comment options at TxDOT.

Texas SH71 in Spicewood Texas has seen rapid new residential subdivision growth, along with with increase truck traffic for concrete, aggregate and asphalt plants on an already over-worked highway.  Death tolls are fast approaching the rates seen previously on Eastern SH71 in Travis County.  The time to fix this is now!  Before more people die.

Other required information you will need for the email dialogue box:
Date of Occurrence: "Daily"
Location of the Complaint: "Texas SH71 west from the Pedernales River to US Highway 281 in Marble Falls."

And we have a petition asking for this very thing.  Would you print it out and get your neighbors to sign it?  Then just mail it to the address on the bottom of the petition itself.  
Link to printable petition.  
Link to extra signature sheets.

Thank you EVER so much!

 

Proposed Rock Crushing Plant South of 281 & 71 Intersection

Form Highlander News: Crushing plant plans to be Beautification Project neighbor

From The Daily Tribune: Group works to break up rock-crushing operation south of Gregg Ranch

Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. is the deadline when comments must be received.  Note: received, not just postmarked.  So get your letters and postcards in the mail by the last week of this month.  
Please send your comments to: 
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Office of the Chief Clerk, MC-1-5
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087

Or send your comments electronically at www.tceq.texas.gov/about/comments.html

From the article:

Asphalt, Inc., the company against which the Spicewood Community was unsuccessful in its attempts to block a hot mix plant, has applied for an air permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Citizens have just 30 days to submit comments in the process.

The notice comes just as Central Texas-Gateway to the Hill Country Beautification Project has set Saturday, Sept. 9 as the seeding of the intersection of US 281 and Texas 71. Members of that non-profit organization have been working closely with the new Gregg Ranch development.

Both of them are expressing concern already.

The TCEQ is in what they are calling “hurricane response mode.” Calls for assistance and information are stacking up and the engineer in charge was unavailable Friday afternoon. However the company consulting on the application was able to be a little more specific than the published notice.

The notice refers to an intersection of Flat Rock Road and US 281 as the site.

“Flat Rock Road appears to be is County Road 403,” said Eric Shelander, environmental specialist with Westward Environmental. “The entrance is to be 90 feet west of US 281 and the site is approximately 2.6 miles south of the intersection of Texas 71.”

Flat Rock Creek Rd. and 281 jpg.jpg

Save Our Spicewood Community Meeting 4/23/2017

 President Michael Moore welcomed the audience at 6:05 pm.

Board Members Present:
Michael Moore
Orion Weldon, 832-693-4445
Matt McCabe, 512-796-8463, www.hillcountrygardener.com
Marlowe Macintyre, Secretary, 512 799-0104, marlowe.macintyre@gmail.com

Others Present
Mary Moore, 805-889-9956, msachsmo@travelers.com
Tina Weldon, 609-815-6410,  tina.lubomira@gmail.com
Bob Johnson, Member, 512-925-7001, bj@bejaz.com
Kathy Crawford, 512-496-3316, mooniekathy@gmail.com
Jo Richmond,  512-627-9451, jojorichmond@gmail.com
Byron Zinn, Commissioner and President, Burnet County ESD 9
Thomas Ranch Representatives Keith Young and Robert Delesandro

Agenda

  1. Michael Moore introduced the organization, and recapped what we have been doing and asked for help.  “What we really need is we need your vote.”

  2. Michael introduced each member of the organization.

  3. Matt McCabe, Safety Committee, introduced Byron Zinn.

  4. Byron Zinn, Commissioner and President, Burnet County ESD 9, spoke about the new system for 911 calls. Byron said that they are trying to make the 911 system work smoothly with no areas that are not covered easily -- in other words, there will be an area on either side of the Travis/Burnet county lines that will be a dual area -- that means that both counties will be able to handle those calls, so that whichever county answers the 911 call first, will handle that call.

Byron mentioned that all of the commissioners are volunteer.  The commissioners have decided that they are working on 3 key areas: 1) How fast are we getting there?  2) How well equipped will we be for emergencies; and 3) How well trained are we for any emergencies?

With the new EMS station -- located next to the Spicewood Elementary School -- the emergency responders will be able to handle situations such as heart attacks with providing medications.  The building could be up and ready for operations by October 2017 or till the end of the year.  (ESD 9 will own the building and the property.  EMS will contract through the county.)

Matt McCabe asked if the new EMS will be able cover Blanco County -- and Byron says that the answer is YES!  Byron says that the new Spicewood EMS will, also, be able to cover east of the Pedernales.  Byron stated that EMS/ESD 9 will NOT cover anything about police department.  Currently the ambulance service is coming from Marble Falls.

Audience Question: Where does the sales tax revenue go for the corridor along HWY 71 in Spicewood?  Byron responded: We are collecting a 2 cent sales tax that will go to fund the EMS station.  However, the sales tax does not completely fund the station; the revenue for the first year is around $200,000.  Operating costs should run about $500,000 per year; so, Burnet county is negotiating with our EMS for funding.

5) We held up the various emergency contact posters, and it turns out to be a really complicated situation.  It turns out that some of our contact numbers are only office.  It became really clear that the emergency phone contact information is difficult because there are so many ways that the greater Spicewood area is broken up into.  However, Byron Zinn gave us all hope that the 911 issue will be taken care of in the near future.

  1. Orion Weldon spoke about the Dark Skies Initiative.  Orion said that we want to have a “friendly approach” to heavy industry and new development as to how to preserve the night sky.

4 Questions to think about for Dark Skies:

  1. Do you need all of those new lights?

  2. If you need that light, can it be on a motion detector -- does it have to be on all night?  Studies have shown that if a light is on all the time, it actually aids burglary.  Therefore, lighting all night does not deter crime; whereas a motion detector can help startle.

  3. Try to buy an LED that is less that 3000 Kelvin (this is the warm tone LED lighting).

  4. Can you do Fully Shielded Lighting?  Fully Shielded Lighting creates a cone that is less dangerous for drivers.

6)Orion spoke about HWY 71 on Linda Wall’s behalf.  (Linda is the real expert at this point, but Linda did fill Orion in on her information.)  Orion said that Kathy Kratz, 512 756-2316, is the TXDot engineer for Burnet County.  Kathy said that in 2 or 3 years, the HWY 71 plans on repaving -- at that time, restriping can be done then.  Kathy says that there are different ways we can restripe the lines.  In Travis County, Victor Vargas, 512 282-2113, is the South Travis Engineer for TXDot.  There are NO PLANS verbalized by CAMPO or by Kratz & Vargas, to extend a center lane for HWY 71 in the future.  Matt McCabe clarified that the proposed restriping is one lane going east, one lane going west, and a center turn lane.  An audience member said that they are planing on restriping from Pedernales Bridge to Fall Creek -- they will kill one of the westbound lanes in order to get a center lane (that was from Victor Vargas & Gerald Daurety).

  1. Matt McCabe said that we have created several internet links for search engines.  “If there is any information that you would like to have considered, please let us know.  Contact us through our website.”

  2. Michael asked our audience if there is any way that people want to help, we would really appreciate your help.

  3. Michael presented that “If you don’t have water, you die.”  Michael told the audience that he is a water lawyer.  Water is a big issue.  Knowing where water comes from, knowing where it is going, and knowing where are the septic is going.  What can the earth sustain?  What can the community sustain?  

  4. Michael asked if the audience has any questions about SOS.

Question:  Is there anyone who can come and educate the   community on rainwater collection?Michael responded that we are working on getting together with experts.

Question:  What is the location of the Christopher Ranch Development?  Answer: on HWY 71, almost opposite of Lauren Concrete.  Website might be spicewoodtrails.com.  There will be one entrance on HWY 71 and one entrance onto 404 in the back of that development.

  1. Keith Young and Robert Delesandro spoke about the progress in securing permits from appropriate departments.

  2. Question: where will the waste water go?  Answer: on the golf course.

  3. Questions for Thomas Ranch development:  

  4. What are you going to do about water retention ponds?

  5. How will the power requirements be meant for Thomas Ranch?  Answer: we haven’t even thought of that yet.  Question: will you be willing to provide underground power lines?  

Are you going to allow solar panels?  Answer: under state law, you can’t prohibit solar panels anymore.

  1. What are you going to do about rainwater collection?  Will Thomas Ranch allow rainwater collection in a usable manner, or just allow 55 gal barrels for homeowners?  Answer: This is a cluster development with smaller lots: 50, 60, 75 foot lots.  We have not talked about it as a project.  Matt McCabe reported that the new HEB in Lakeway already has rainwater collection, solar panels on the roof, etc.  Answer: for the rainwater collection, the best way might be on the commercial properties.

  2. Question: what control will the developers have?  Answer: we will develop builder guidelines to address these questions. Answer: Mr. Thomas wants this to be a master planned community.  Question: would you be willing to invite the community into planning this master community.  Answer: I can’t make that decision, but I will bring it back for discussion.

  3. Question: how is rainwater going to be dealt with in relationship to dumping into the little creeks that run through Thomas Ranch.  Answer: by state law, we can not increase the amount of water running off onto someone else’s property.   So, there will be detention/retention ponds.  As part of the Highland Lakes, there are incentive to capturing storm water -- there can be vegetative strips, wet ponds with plants, and over time that water moves on out and it is clean water.  We are required to provide that.

  4. Question: what is Thomas Ranch doing with TXDot to expand or add turn lanes to 71 to add turn lanes today -- before the accidents start to happen.  It is too late to make plans with TXDot after the development starts.  Answer: we are looking into putting in a decelerating and turn lane on 71.  I think Austin Golf Club comes up on one side, I think we might have some room there.  When the Marketplace comes in, the plan is to add a left turn lane along our frontage.

  5. Question:  (as per Orion)  What plans if any do you have for your builders to get their concrete and their asphalt?  We know that we might be the default place for where your asphalt is coming from?  Answer: we don’t know.  

Audience Questions:

Question: We have property that runs off of Thomas Ranch, and we get a lot of water running down that creek.  What we don’t want to see is Thomas Ranch damming up the creek so that there is no water running in those existing creeks.  

Question: My primary interest is in the Marketplace.  I understand that the Marketplace will come later in the development -- the residences will come first.  Answer: They are planning on starting off with a small grocery retail, but more with a local flavor.  Scott & White is hoping to have a clinic there.  The marketplace entrance will be up on 71.  Question: where will the Marketplace be?  Answer: it will be near Fall Creek Estates Drive.  Question:  Where do you anticipate the Scott & White clinic to be?  Answer: off 71, but we don’t know.

Question: (from an audience member who used to be a developer in another state)  These types of questions usually happen with a municipality; but where does those questions go here?  So how do you plan to develop to handle a 100 year storm?  Answer: that is exactly what we do.  This is the first step.  We don’t have a land plan yet, it is just analysis.  We formalize the land plan over the next 6 months.  We know where the water goes over the 10, 25, 100 year storms.  We then have to run analysis, and in some areas you can do it in one big pump; but we can’t really formalize that -- but when we submit it to the county and LCRA, that plan goes to it.  Question: Spicewood is not regulated, and it is the good will of the developers. Answer: there is no city out here.  There are multiple districts that we have to answer to.  Question:  (by Michael)  we want you (the developers) to put in those restrictions that will help us.  Questions: will anyone in the development actually live here in development. Answer:  no real answer provided.

Question:  the road is very twisty; can you re-route Pale Face Ranch Road to make it safer?  Answer:  we own the portion by the zip line, and we can take that out to fix that.  Question:  can that road be fixed prior to the big trucks in down to Haney Flat before that happens?  Answer: we have talked to Travis County.  We are funding the straightening out of the road wherever we can.  But, Travis County does not have a high priority on that road.

Question:  do you have firm contracts with LCRA with water.  Answer: we have contract for 1600 acre feet of water.  (Michael said, “That’s a lie.  An acre foot covers one home.  That is not enough water.”) For some of the open space, we will be using the effluent.  That will cut down a little on the water use.

Question:  it looks like most of the development will effect before Haney Flat Road.  When do you propose starting to put stuff in?  Answer: Pale Face Ranch Road and Haney Flat Road.    We will be creating a new intersection.  There will be a Market in that area.  Question: what is your time frame for breaking ground?  Answer: we don’t know yet.  Going through Travis County takes year.  As best, a 4 years process before you break ground.

Bob Johnson brought up the point that Save Our Spicewood is now a genuine non-profit; and become members of donate.

The meeting broke up at 7:59 pm.  The Thomas Ranch developers had a line of questioners.

Marlowe Macintyre, Secretary

Thomas Ranch Public Meeting

PUBLIC MEETING HOSTED BY THOMAS RANCH DEVELOPERS
MARCH 21ST, 7PM
SPICEWOOD ELEMENTARY ON SPUR 191

This email has been sent to a few Sicewoodians and was forwarded to us.  Mark your calendars!
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Kat Harris <kharris@echristianpr.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 1:05 PM
Subject: Thomas Ranch Town Hall Meeting - March 21, 7 p.m.
To: Katherine Harris <kharris@echristianpr.com>

I would like to invite you to join me and the Thomas Ranch team at an open house to introduce ourselves and to talk with you about our plans for the new community. 

Our vision for Thomas Ranch is comprehensive, and starts with an allocation of over 700 acres to parkland and open space. This makes a perfect setting for the homes, shops, restaurants, trails, resort, church, clinic, school, and recreational amenities envisioned for the community. We look forward to sharing our planning for road network improvements, water conservation initiatives, expanded emergency services, adoption of FireWise principles, ‘Design with Nature’ land planning, dark sky preservation, and anticipated prices and timetable for homes. 

We are planning our open house at Spicewood Elementary School on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

I hope you will consider attending and sharing information about the event with your neighbors.  In the meantime, please let me know if there are other topics you’d like covered at the event.

I look forward to meeting you.
Regards,
Thomas D’Alesandro
http://www.thomasranchaustin.com/ 
Katherine "Kat" Harris
Account Supervisor
Elizabeth Christian Public Relations
8008 Spicewood Lane
Austin, Texas  78759
512.494.2883  direct
512.472.9599  main
512.797.4002 mobile
kharris@echristianpr.com
www.echristianpr.com

2200+ acres (1,676 acres in Travis County, 546 in Burnet County),
3,300 residential units: 2,800 in Travis County (300 of which are planned to be multifamily) and 500 in Burnet County
Community Impact article
Travis County Commissioners have approved the plan so far - though not much has been submitted
Another Bizjournal article on the development
Master Development Plan - complete with maps
ThomasRanchAustin.com


More information about Thomas Ranch:

2200+ acres (1,676 acres in Travis County, 546 in Burnet County),
3,300 residential units: 2,800 in Travis County (300 of which are planned to be multifamily) and 500 in Burnet County
Community Impact article
Travis County Commissioners have approved the plan so far - though not much has been submitted
Another Bizjournal article on the development
Master Development Plan - complete with maps
ThomasRanchAustin.com

Corpus Christi water supply contaminated by chemical from asphalt plant

On December 14, the City of Corpus Christi got a dirty water call indicating a backflow incident in an industrial area of Corpus Christi allowed Indulin AA-86, an asphalt emulsifier chemical, into the city's drinking water supply.  

Wikipedia's listing for Indulin AA-86, including citations to links for more information on it and the Corpus Christi incident

December 14, 2016
     City of Corpus Christi: Back-Flow Incident Leads to Discontinuation of Tap Water Usage Citywide Until Further Notice
                                          (Link to notice in Spanish)
December 15, 2016
     Corpus Christi, Texas, Tells Residents Not To Use Tap Water
     Corpus Christi residents scrambling after water supply contamination
     Dirty water warnings preceded ban on use
     City of Corpus Christi: Water Situation Update
                                          Drinking Water Problem Corrected in 3 City Areas
                                          City Begins Free Water Distribution - (Link to article in Spanish)
                                          Frequently Asked Questions
Dec. 16, 2016
     City of Corpus Christi: Use of Tap Water May Resume in Specific Zones - (Link to article in Spanish)
     City of Corpus Christi: City to Open Fifth Water Distribution Center Saturday
     Corpus Christi, Texas, Identifies Contaminant As Tap Water Ban Remains For Many
     Ergon: Company helping to get 'water supply back online'
     Restaurant owners want more transparency about water
Dec. 17, 2016
     City of Corpus Christi: News Conference Summary  -  Map of water use zones mentioned in news conference  
     TCEQ: Follow water restrictions; illnesses reported
     EPA official promises investigation of chemical release
     City officials update that water ban continues, samples being tested
Dec. 18, 2016
     City of Corpus Christi: Use of Tap Water May Resume Citywide
     Day 4 of Corpus Christi water crisis coverage
     Tap Water In Corpus Christi Is Safe, Authorities Say
December 21, 2016
     Texas Monthly: Corpus Christi’s Water Woes: This weekend's tap water ban is the latest development in the city's long struggle to keep it's water safe.

Multiple dates: 
TCEQ Response to Corpus Christi Water Situation
Corpus Christi Caller Times: Search results for "water"
Google News search results for "Corpus Christi water"

 

Reporting on a separate water contamination incident:
December 21 
     Texas Tribune: In Corpus Christi, the latest water emergency was different
December 30
     
More water woes for the Corpus Christi area
     TCEQ: Contaminant found in Nueces WSC water supply

Help to Fund Our Efforts

HELP TO FUND OUR EFFORTS

Let's maintain this place we live in and love.... Spicewood is still a welcoming gateway to the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

From clear running creeks and waterfalls with towering trees to award-winning vineyards; from herds of Longhorn cattle browsing in lush pastures to winding, country roads lined with springtime wild flowers.

Home of Opie’s Barbecue (in the top 10 in the nation), Apis Restaurant (dining at its finest) and Poodie’s Roadhouse (best little honkytonk in the Texas Hill Country), Spicewood has long been a preferred destination for discerning residents and visitors. The aim of Save Our Spicewood is to keep it that way – we need your help and support.

Join the cause, donate your time, donate your money, knock on your neighbor’s door - talk about the issues we are facing. Actively participate in community public meetings. Exercise your rights by contacting our elected leaders - local, state and national.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Save Our Spicewood is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. 
All donations and membership fees are tax-deductible.

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