is Bill Gunn. A couple of his development partners and
consultants are in the background. Together, they are
trying to build a housing
development of 1,893 housing units plus schools and commercial
buildings on the former Davenport Ranch - 2,500 acres
between Highway 71 and Hamilton Pool Road.
Their project has been referred to by neighbors as the
"stealth development" becaause, up until very recently,
nobody had any idea what they were up to. They tried
to slip their plans quickly by the Travis County Commissioners
but neighbors, who caught a whiff of what was on the
wind, showed up at the Commissioners Court meeting and
raised a stink of their own. Wisely, the Commissioners
refused to immediately pass on the plans and postponed
their vote long enough
for the developers to at least inform the neighbors of
what they were planning. So, on June 26, 2004, under
from the Travis County Commissioners, a public meeting
was held at The Cedars Restaurant on Highway 71 West.
all started out amicably enough, with the developer self-assuredly
proclaiming that the initial phase was to be a model
stewardship. He has a high-powered team of engineers
and lawyers, several of whom were at the meeting to back
up the big Gunn. Though it has been publicly stated that
the development is eventually to contain 2,857 houses,
Gunn mentioned a total of only 1,893 lots. Now to us
country guys that still sounds like a hell of a lot of
lots. But that's not all. According to Mr. Gunn, these
are to be little teeny city type lots, ranging in size
80'x120'. Cool, eh? You want to run right down
and sign up for one, right?
this development had originally planned to get water
from the proposed LCRA water line that was going out 71
but that got put on hold along with the Hamilton Pool Road
pipeline. So, being no slouches, these guys immediately
applied to the LCRA for a raw water permit to pump their
water out of Lake Travis their own selves, to the tune
of 1,650 acre-feet per year.
Wheeler is the project's main engineer. He and Bill Gunn
told the assembled neighbors that they had actually
planned to do this water pumping all along. They were just
going to use the LCRA pipe for about 2 years, until it
became cost-effective to bring in their own pipeline from
are organized as a MUD (Municipal Utility District), the
approval of which had been brought before the Legislature
and Terry Keel (what were they thinking?). MUDs, we were
informed, have a lot of powers, including the power of
condemnation, so they can bring that old pipe pretty much
damn well please.
developers told the attendees (some of whom are shown here)
that the project's houses were to be modest, "affordable"
to $350,000. Well the lots are modest in size, anyway.
The first phase is the construction of 549 houses.
this number seemed, to the neighbors in the room, like an
awful environmental and traffic burden to put on the neighborhood.
Muse lives very close to the proposed development. Her
concerns were many but particularly the likely environmental
degredation to local waterways. She asked if all the lofty
proposals for runoff protection weren't just offering "a
glass of clean water along with a glass of poison".
This was never satisfactorily answered. In fact, as time
on and questions got more pointed, the developer's responses
got sharper and angrier, revealing the wolf shedding his
suit. By the meeting's end, it all didn't seem so amicable.
started to approach a boiling point when real estate agent
Trey Angly challenged the developers about his traffic
concerns. Showing a mastery of technical jargon along with
of homespun Texana delivery, trey said "Carnage, congestion
and traffic counts"
were what he was worried about. He said "I don't have a
financial dog in this hunt. I have a child at the wheel."
were no satisfactory answers given. This did seem, though,
like an ongoing discussion between him and Bill Gunn. He
asked that anyone else with traffic concerns about Highway
71 call him at 512-913-0411.
meeting ended by the bell, having run well over the time
allotted by the owner of the venue. There were still many
unanswered questions and many frustrated neighbors.
Tuesday, June 29th, The Travis County Commissioners'
Court voted to approve the first phase - 549
lots in the Sweetwater
(formerly Lazy 9) development. They did specify, at least,
that this was approval only for those first 549 lots,
for the entire plan. And they required the developer to agree,
in writing, that they may not claim grandfathered status
for future phases of the development, in the event that environmental
or other regulations become more stringent in the interim.
is a plat
map of the proposed development:
Sweetwater (Lazy 9) Plat
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