Controversial Mark Black wedding venue approved by 2-1 council vote

After weeks of debate, the Dripping Springs City Council Tuesday approved a permit application for the Mark Black Wedding Venue by a split 2-1 vote.

Council member Taline Manassian and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds approved the agreement, while Council member Wade King cast the lone dissenting vote. Council members John Kroll and Travis Crow were absent from the meeting.

Approval of the Site Development Permit Application for the venue was contingent on adding a note to the Water Quality Sheets regarding vegetative filter strips. Requirements called for a minimum 75 percent vegetative cover before final acceptance of the project and implementing additional cross-sections and details regarding temporary sedimentation ponds to its plans.

Tuesday’s vote marked the third time the Dripping Springs City Council had taken up the site development permit for the proposed wedding venue, which is located along Crystal Hills Drive in Dripping Springs’ extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). City leaders had previously tabled discussion on the matter Feb. 13 and Feb. 20.

Prior to the vote, concerned residents of a neighborhood near the venue packed into Dripping Springs City Hall to voice their discontent. Dripping Springs City Hall Tuesday was at capacity, according to the Hays County Fire Marshal.

The Friendship Alliance, a group representing the neighborhoods of Radiance, Goldenwood and Goldenwood West, brought to the table deficiencies found in the venue’s site development plans.

Laura Ross, an engineer representing Friendship Alliance, said the engineering plans for the wedding venue only achieve around 76 percent removal of pollutants, where the requirements for the removal of total phosphorus and total grease is at 90 percent.

Andrew Evans, project manager at Kimly-Horn and engineer for the Mark Black Wedding Venue, refuted Ross and said the project’s permits are in-line with the requirements set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the city’s ordinances.

The agreement was approved after an hour of deliberation from engineers of both parties.

Carlos Torres-Verdin, president of the Friendship Alliance, said he believes the city is breaking its own ordinances by approving this project. He cited information presented to the city council on Feb. 20 that claimed to show five violations to city ordinance.

Verdin said the Friendship Alliance is exploring several options moving forward.

One option centered on the Friendship Alliance potentially buying Black’s property, so he can “move his venue to a safer location,” Torres-Verdin said.

“We will take action according to a study we will be conducting with the neighbors and lawyers,” Torres-Verdin said. “The city is breaking its ordinances by approving this project and that it was troubling to see how bias the process was.”

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