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Locals rise up against Driftwood storage facility

Tensions were high at a public meeting in Driftwood Dec. 13 where developers of an unwelcome self-storage facility clashed with local residents.

Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant and Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones called a town hall meeting in order to address a few topics of interest that had been emailed to their offices in recent weeks, which included the facility.

More than 50 residents filled the Driftwood Community Center for the town hall meeting, some even standing on the sides of the room. The meeting began with a presentation from representatives of the Jenkins Organization that bought 15.8 acres where a self-storage facility is projected to be built in early 2018. The facility will be built near the intersection of FM 1826 and Darden Hill Road, which is located in Dripping Springs extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

Steve Medcalf, Robb DeJean and Sam Smalling, representatives for the Jenkins Organization, discussed with residents design features and other details concerning construction of the facility. They noted that the company markets to high-income demographics and the facility will be higher-end storage units.

Organization says it intends to go above and beyond to make sure the building blends in to the environment using design features and landscaping.

“What I’ve noticed is that when anyone hears about self-storage they have an immediate visceral reaction and not really understanding what it is and what it looks like and how it interacts with the area. We want it to fit in with the area, with this rural setting that it’s in,” Medcalf said in the meeting.

Medcalf said the storage facility would be “useful to the community.”

However, residents continued to voice their concerns about the facility, which included issues with increased traffic, safety, environmental impacts, and Dripping Springs’ dark skies ordinance, among other issues.

Whisenant had to calm the room down several times in order to let the Jenkins Organization representatives finish their presentation.

Because the facility will be located outside of city limits and in the ETJ, there are minimal land use controls.

Representatives with the Jenkins Organization intend to work with the county and city of Dripping Springs to appease residents in the area.

Although the building process is already underway, Whisenant says residents can still “make their voices heard at the opportunities that are provided through the process through the city of Dripping Springs Planning and Zoning committee and city council meetings.

Final landscaping, designs and hours of operation will be presented to the Dripping Springs city council Jan 9.

The Jenkins Organization has developed 14 other self-storage units around the state to date and has acquired more than 20 other facilities across the U.S.

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