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  • Austin American-Statesman

    City Council postpones decision on Bastrop Gateway development

    By Aaron Sullivan,

    2024-04-14
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4Tk7Ky_0sQsmt6C00

    Residents shared their concerns about a proposed mixed-use development called Bastrop Gateway with the Bastrop City Council on Tuesday after a community town hall on the project the week before. Ultimately, the council voted to refer the item back to city staff to better understand the development’s impact.

    The City Council moved its meeting from its regular location at City Hall across the street to the Bastrop Convention Center to accommodate the overwhelming number of residents who wished to speak.

    If the council approves the development, Bastrop Gateway would be built on the hill behind the Buc-ees on approximately 30 acres between Texas 71 and Texas 21. The development would include multi-family housing, retail, entertainment and other commercial spaces.

    Bastrop Gateway would connect to Pitt Street behind Buc-ees at two spots, with an additional connection to Texas 21 planned for the future. The proposal also includes a walking trail connecting the development with Mayfest Park and Bastrop State Park.

    The developer requested multiple exceptions to the city’s Bastrop Building Blocks, or B3, code. The exceptions include exceeding the code’s height maximum of five stories. The tallest building, a proposed hotel and convention center, included in the design’s current plan stands at 12 stories.

    Many residents expressed concerns about the short time period between the developer’s announcement of Bastrop Gateway and the City Council’s discussion on changing the zoning for the development.

    “Why we got to this point where we’re one vote away from (approving the development) is, in my opinion, a big mistake,” said resident Pablo Serna. “It caught a lot of people off guard, and we just feel helpless out here.”

    The short time it took Bastrop Gateway to get to the council’s dais also left many residents with questions about the development’s plans.

    “(The City Council has) done an excellent amount of work in a very short amount of time to provide knowledge (about this development) to us, the community,” said resident Dax Havrilak. “But we don’t know everything, so there’s still some fear to learn through.”

    Bastrop Gateway would back up to a handful of properties along Lost Pines Avenue, classified as a “rural” area under the current zoning. The developer’s representative, Steven Beagle, said the current plan includes a 50-foot buffer between the proposed development and the single-family homes. Many residents who live on Lost Pines Avenue attended the meeting to share concerns about building multi-family housing in their backyards.

    “The architect has put that little 50-foot strip of land in there,” said resident John Everly. "Hopefully, the trees will survive it, but I doubt it. If you start moving that much earth around, you’re going to kill everything — all the wildlife, the Houston toads, everything.”

    Resident Jennifer Phelps, who said she bought her house on Lost Pines Avenue 30 years ago, cautioned the council about adding development to the city too quickly.

    “The Houston toad isn’t the only thing that is endangered here,” she said. “Small-town living is in danger. I understand that we want people to have (affordable) housing. (This development) isn’t going to be affordable, and it’s going to create unaffordable living for the rest of us.”

    While the majority of residents who commented opposed the development, a few expressed support. Rob Garrison said he’s excited about the development’s potential construction and the extra resources it will bring, such as grocery stores and hospitals.

    “The more people we end up having here, the more we’re going to get other resources that we keep saying that we want,” he said. “In order to have those, we have to have more people.”

    He said a development like this would contribute to the diversity of the city’s landscape and bring in money outside taxpayer dollars to support the city’s infrastructure.

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