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Dripping OKs storage facility plan despite protest at meeting

Protest signs dotted the landscape at Dripping Springs City Hall Jan. 9 as numerous residents opposed a site development permit to allow a storage facility to open near the Rim Rock subdivision.

In adherence to state law that prohibits cities from denying permits for intended use, however, led city leaders to approve the permit by a 6-0 vote. Mayor Todd Purcell was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

The facility, which is to be on a 15.83-acre lot, will be located near the intersection of FM 1826 and Darden Hill Road Rock, said Steve Medcalf, who spoke on behalf of Troy Moore with M3 Engineering.

Medcalf said the engineering firm had hosted multiple community meetings for residents and neighbors of the proposed storage facility, as well as a workshop at the Hays County Commissioners Court.

Although the storage facility would be located in Dripping Springs’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), the owner of the property agreed with residents to a list of limitations regarding design, landscaping and hours of operation, Medcalf said. The limitations came as a result of feedback from the community meetings and workshops.

“As you are aware, there is very little land use regulations in the ETJ and limited site development regulations as well,” Medcalf said.

Medcalf added there are also limited regulations on the height of structures, lighting and landscaping required for property in the ETJ.

The project was designed to blend into the Dripping Springs rural hill country by displaying muted colors and tree shading from the main thoroughfare, Medcalf said.

Medcalf also said storage facilities in the area were limited or at capacity so the project in the ETJ is a needed one.

Rim Rock area residents protested the storage facility with signs at last week’s Dripping Springs City Council meeting. (photo by Samantha Smith)

“We feel fairly confident that the citizens are going to be able to use this facility,” Medcalf said.

Medcalf claimed the storage facility would not increase traffic and would abide by the city’s Dark Skies ordinance.

The site plan included an on-site residence for a caretaker of the property, rainwater harvesting capabilities and landscaping screen cover from the nearest roadway.

“What we’re trying to do here is something that looks and feels like it belongs here,” Medcalf said.

Gates, cameras and high fences stand as a crime deterrent at the storage facility, along with the 24-hour caretaker on-site.

Dripping Springs’ Planning and Zoning Commission recommended council approve the site plan for the facility as long as some conditions were met regarding the Dark Skies ordinance and landscaping. 

However, eight residents, most from the Rim Rock neighborhood, spoke in opposition to the storage facility during a public hearing on the item.

The residents opposed the development based on environmental concerns, concerns regarding additional water runoff due to impervious cover and other pollutants from vehicle storage.

Rim Rock resident John Pope called the consolations made by the developer regarding the aesthetics of the building as “window dressing.”  Pope said the structure still didn’t belong in the beautiful hill country.

Daryl Kocher spoke about current flooding issues being exasperated by added impervious cover at the storage facility. Jennifer Cohen was among several residents who requested that an environmental impact study be done at the proposed site before the developer began construction.

But Dripping Springs City Councilmember John Kroll said the city is subject to the state law that prevents cities from denying a developers’ permit request based on the intended land use.

Council members said they understood residents’ concerns, but there was little the council could do to stop the development.

Council member Taline Manassian thanked the residents for attending the meeting and sharing their concerns with council members. Manassian also congratulated the developer for working with the residents and including special conditions on lighting, landscape and water use in the site plan.

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