Lakeway City Center Concept Plan

Legend Communities has submitted a Planned Unit Development (PUD), a document that lays out specific project designs and requirements, to the City of Lakeway.  They have hosted community meetings to communicate their vision for the project and to gather feedback from the residents.  
This development is a significant decision for the City of Lakeway.  It will impact the aesthetics of our city, our tax base, our traffic, and our community.  Stay informed and please let your council members know your opinions.  Zoning and Planning Commission (ZAPCO) will meet this week on April 4 @ 9:15AM to discuss the proposal.  

I believe that Lakeway should have a Town Center and the Legend Communities City Center proposal is a great start towards achieving this vision.  Having a place where our residents can congregate, host outdoor events, attend farmers markets or partake of wine festivals would be an asset to the community.  Connecting Lohman's Crossing to 620 through Main Street and Lohman's Spur is an opportunity for our residents to shop, dine, and play without having to drive on 620.  That is a plus.  I also believe the new urban design can help meet the changing needs of our current and future residents with the balance of live-work units.  The arts district is also an interesting concept.   All that being said, there is more work to be done with the City Center proposal.   

A few items that I believe need to be negotiated (this is not an all-inclusive list):

  • Balance Commercial and Residential to make sure we do not over saturate our community with commercial development nor miss out on sales tax opportunity.
  • Define each area in detail so that we know specifically what will be built. 
  • Connect Main Street through the Stratus project, this should help with traffic flow and safety.
  • Reduce the number of housing units, currently the plan is too dense.
  • Maintain the isolation from the Rolling Green community, the residents do not want their streets connected to the development and neither do I.
  • Increase the park land especially in the town center.
  • Review again the traffic study and affirm the current infrastructure plan once changes are made.
  • Review again the parking model and affirm the parking plan once changes are made.
  • Events / Performing Arts Center concept is interesting, but needs to be carefully considered.  The city performed a feasibility and marketing study for an arts and conference center in 2014 and I was a part of the committee.  The study made several business model assumptions that would need to be detailed further and confirmed.  Arts centers are inherently risky as I learned through my tenure as Board Chairman for TexARTS.   Although the scope of a Events Center will be contemplated at a later phase of the project, I wanted to bring this discussion to the forefront.  The business model must make sense. 

The easy option is to "Stop" or say "No" to the City Center PUD proposal.  However, I think it is in the best interest of the City to continue to negotiate an acceptable solution with Legend Communities.  We are conceptually aligned (creation of a Town Center and Main Street Connection), but there are many details and items to work through.  If the process starts over with another developer, it will likely add another two years to the timeline before Main Street is cut through to Lohman's (the City does not have right-of-way). However, the extension of Main Street road as a local option could help us divert traffic from 620 and make our commutes safer in the meantime.

To be clear, I don't think we should "Reject" or "Approve" the City Center Plan.  I think we NEGOTIATE!

UPDATE:

The City Center PUD proposal was voted down by ZAPCO on April 4.  The City Council will NOT review the proposal as the developer has pulled it from consideration. 

Traffic

We all know that that the 620 traffic issues are complex.  Over 50,000 cars pass through Lakeway each day.  Fortunately, CAMPO has a plan to widen 620 from the dam to 71.  The $100M plan is slated for 2023.  We must work diligently to get this plan funded and prioritized.   However, we cannot wait for this plan to happen.  We need to work with our surrounding cities and business partners to identify short term solutions to make our streets safer and to divert traffic flow from 620 where possible.

Some items we should consider:

  • Connect Main Street to Lohman's Crossing to keep traffic off of 620 (part of the City Center Plan).
  • Connect Birrell to remove traffic from the shopping center (could be costly as a bridge would likely be required).
  • Create Right in, Right out driveways for certain areas along 620 to manage traffic flow.
  • Use raised medians to control turn areas and improve safety. 
  • Consider shopping center connectors.
  • Increase Lakeway road funds to enable more local control.

Civic Engagement

The City of Lakeway has thrived on community involvement and volunteerism.  We need more participation from the younger generation and to develop the next generation of volunteers and leaders for our community.  

The City has been fortunate to have many of our retirees serve on our boards, committees and commissions.  Some of the commissions require substantial procedural knowledge as well as the ordinances to effectively serve.  I would like to deliberately build a pipeline of trained volunteers.  Work needs to be done on the process to attract and encourage a more diverse set of volunteers. 

Growth and Development

Over the last several years, Lakeway has experienced significant growth.  New residents have built or remodeled homes and we have enjoyed many new businesses and restaurant opening their doors in Lakeway.  With this growth, the city has had its share of growing pains.  Our building and development processes are legendary for being difficult to navigate and thus causing considerable delays.  The delays are frustrating to the applicant and could incur unplanned costs.  For a business, this can hamper your start-up plans when cash is limited and you have to open your doors.    We have to evolve the processes and make them more user friendly.

Additionally, our restaurants are dealing with a shortage in service labor.  This will take a community effort to solve this problem including but not limited to the Chamber of Commerce, business owners, and the school district.

Deer Management Plan

The deer (and other wildlife) are an asset to our community.  Many of us chose to live in Lakeway because of the lake and the nature we enjoy in our front yards.  And as such, we need to have a responsible deer management program for the safety of our residents and to insure we have a healthy herd.    

Lakeway has been recognized by Texas Parks and Wildlife as having a benchmark deer management program in the state of Texas. As with any program, you have to monitor the results and determine if the program is meeting its goals.

When I first moved to Lakeway almost 2 decades ago, the deer were abundant and scrawny. Which is part of what preempted the introduction of a management program. It is my understanding that in the last several years, the average weight of the captured deer weigh 15-20 lbs heavier. So, our herd has become healthier. There are only a few Texas Parks and Wildlife approved methods for controlling the deer population. Trapping and Transporting is the most effective (Sharpshooters in a residential neighborhood would be a disaster). Lakeway currently processes the deer and donates the meet to a local food bank.  I have witness the process first hand.

What would l change about the program? 

  • I would look at the latest data from this year versus the historical numbers to understand how the program is or isn't meeting its goals. In the end, we are looking for a safe environment for our residents and a healthy herd.  I believe we need a current census.  Then we can discuss what modifications we should make to the program.
  • I would like to find a way to release the deer on another ranch.
  • I would like to revisit where the trap sites are located.  I would move the traps away from resident's homes.

Short Term Rentals

In November 2015, the topic of Short Term Rentals was heard while I was serving as your City Council member.  Over the years, the police department has received a number of complaints that varied from Excessive Noise to Out-of-Control parties at short term rental properties.  At that time, the staff had limited ability to deal with repeat offenders.  I'm very proud of the debate and discussion we had on this topic and the resulting ordinance created December 2015: 

  • All short term rentals have to apply for a Special Use permit each year ($250).
  • Capped the number of short term rental units in the city to current approved through old process, later changed to 25.
  • Required a separation of 1000 feet from each unit (except condo units).
  • Limited the house capacity to 2 adults per bedroom.  
  • Required proof of insurance.
  • Permit is not transferable & void upon conveyance of property.
  • Limited Parking to the right-of-way bordering property, garage, and driveway.  
  • Minimum rental period - 2 consecutive nights.
  • Hotel Tax reports due in a timely manner.
  • City manager may suspend/revoke permit for substantial violations.

Click the envelope button below to email me your thoughts or questions.