Permit holdup delays 497-home development trying to take root in Travis County

Travis County

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — There’s some concern from neighbors and environmental groups about a big development eyeing western Travis County land.

It’s called Vizcaya, a 1,058-acre project that would be located at Bee Creek Road and Thurman Bend Road, according to a permit application with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The project would also include a golf course and clubhouse, a water treatment plant, a wastewater treatment plant and amenities.

Kamila Radford would get a good view of it from her backyard.

“This is what we enjoy. We want to be around animals and this beauty,” said Radford, who has been leading dozens of neighbors in voicing their concerns about the project.

The two biggest ones, she says, are traffic and water.

“There is no infrastructure to handle, potentially additional thousands of cars, new cars, on those windy, already dangerous roads,” she explained.

She also says they’re worried about what such a massive development would mean for water resources; the project wraps around Lake Travis and the Colorado River.

“The quality of [the] lake is going to be impacted for not just this area, all of us. All of us depend on that lake,” she said.

It’s something Jo Karr Tedder with the Central Texas Water Coalition echoes.

“Even after all the rain we had earlier this year, inflows into the lake are only one third of what they have been historically,” Karr wrote in an email to KXAN. “We must update how the water is managed.”

The LCRA reviews master plan applications for water quality protection requirements that are outlined in the Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance.

The LCRA says it received Vizcaya’s application in August, noting it was submitted and approved twice before in 2008 and 2012, but those approvals had expired.

The ordinance requires the developer to post a notice at the site and mail letters to neighbors within 500 feet of the project boundaries.

  • Vizcaya, a 1,058-acre project, would be located at Bee Creek Road and Thurman Bend Road, according to a permit application with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA).
  • A map showing where the proposed Vizcaya project would be, according to its LCRA permit application. (Source: LCRA)

The LCRA says it received around six letters about the application during the public comment period from Aug. 27 and Sept. 13, one of which was submitted on behalf of 20 property owners.

That same month, the agency “identified issues” that needed to be addressed before making a final decision on the permit.

“LCRA requested additional information, clarification or changes to comply with LCRA ordinances on several topics, including the number and types of lots and the development’s overall water quality management plan,” wrote spokesperson Clara Tuma to KXAN.

On Friday, Tuma says the applicant has responded to their issues, so the agency can conduct a second review.

Travis County Commissioner Ann Howard oversees the precinct and says the county approved the project plans back in 2008, but they aren’t sure if it’s still valid. She says there’s been a lot of change in the area since then.

“That can impact things — where they’re going to get their water, what’s the traffic impact,” said Howard.

She says county staff is looking into it, and there is a lot of other growth in the area to consider, too.

“There’s a lot of us who already live here, and for the reasons we like living here, more people are coming, and it’s really squeezing our quality of life, and we’ve got to be smart about development, so we don’t ruin the exact reason people are coming,” Howard said.

Radford says for that reason, she hopes the county’s permit is no longer valid and calls on leaders to take action.

“Whoever has some say-so in the matter, to take a good look and to help block this environmental disaster,” Radford said.

At the very least, Radford says she’d like leaders to address neighbors’ concerns.

“None of us have received the letter, a response of some sort, like, ‘Hey, we’re working on it, we’re dealing with it. We have received your letter.’ None of that has ever happened,” she said.

Tuma says neighbors can email hlwo@lcra.org to be notified if and when the agency receives any more application materials and when the LCRA reaches a decision on the application.

KXAN has reached out to the engineering company and development firm listed on the permit applications and is waiting for a response.

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