Development over recharge zone draws concern

Anxieties over the impact a proposed masterplanned development along FM 967 near Buda could have on neighbors and the Edwards Aquifer is steadily rising. 

According to community organizers, the development, located in Dripping Springs’ extraterritorial jurisdiction, calls for 1,200 homes to be built out on almost 800 acres of land. The development is located over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. 

However, variance requests outlined in the proposed development agreement with Dripping Springs have left neighbors concerned about what the growth could mean for them.

Jannine Inbody, who lives downhill from the proposed development site, organized a town hall meeting April 19 at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Buda, where about 60 of her fellow neighbors discussed their concerns and the actions they can take.

Among those issues is the question of where their potential residents would be drawing their water from. Large community wells can have a negative impact on the aquifer, and all of the homes in the existing subdivision are on individual wells which draw from the Edwards and Trinity aquifers.

Additional development also means more impervious cover, an idea that causes many residents to worry about flood mitigation and further water damage.

“We can’t stand any more impervious cover on the top of that hill,” Inbody said.

A Dripping Springs city ordinance states that development located inside the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, such as the Rutherford Ranch North, may have a maximum impervious cover of up to 10 percent of the property. According to a proposed development agreement, the developer has requested to be permitted an increase from impervious cover from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Per the proposed agreement, the request is justified because the surrounding area is made up of mostly conservation property with no plans to be developed. According to the agreement, even with 25 percent impervious cover on this property, impervious cover in the general area will be less than 5 percent. Neighbors already living in the area are less optimistic.

“We’re concerned that with any additional impervious cover, storm water runoff will only increase and significant damage will be done to our property and our neighbors’,” Inbody said. 

Inbody and her neighbors also took issue with several other variances outlined in the development agreement proposal, including one that would allow a reduction in lot size from the 1.5 acres normally required for development to less than .1 acre.

Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said he has reached out to the owner of the Rutherford tract, who is open to the idea of adhering to voluntary restrictions based recommendations, and also agreed to meet with both the city of Buda to discuss alternative water sources and to sit down with the unhappy neighbors to address their concerns.

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