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Buda delays talk on Cole Springs annexation

By Sahar Chmais

After three hours of presentation, discussion, questions and concerns, a petition before the Buda city council to discuss the possible annexation of a subdivision was tabled.

The Colony at Cole Springs presented its subdivision project to the Buda City Council during the Feb. 4 meeting.

“I wouldn’t mind setting a date,” council member Remy Fallon said regarding a vote on the issue. “But I don’t think I want to set a date today. The biggest issue at this point is the location of that property and the streets and the roads. I don’t speak very often, so when I’m speaking, this is a big deal. I don’t mind the idea of setting a date, I’m just not comfortable doing that now.”

The petition was a request for the city council members to further discuss the annexation required for the project to proceed.

Five council members voted to table the discussion of the annexation of the Colony at Cole Springs with only mayor George Haehn and council member Terry Cummings saying no.

During the workshop, Mark Baker, principal at SEC Planning, LLC, gave an overview of the project. The overall plan is to build 531 homes on the 170-acre property in different phases. The development would comply with the city’s dark-sky initiative by meeting the standards of down-deflecting features and other measures which avoid light pollution in the city’s sky.

Baker said that one of the project’s goals is to improve connectivity throughout Buda, in part by creating alternative transportation methods that encourage walking and biking throughout the subdivision and to City Park. Baker said that could also enhance the economic viability of downtown Buda.

The Colony at Cole Springs would also call for several changes in Buda’s road systems. The developers proposed adding a 1,200-foot bridge over Onion Creek which would connect Jack C. Hays Trail to Cole Springs and FM 1626.

Their projections predict the bridge would relieve traffic heading west from downtown. The developer put the expected cost of the bridge at $2.8 million. The city would pay for it but later be reimbursed in full. That repayment, however, would be contingent – if permitting is not achieved within four years of the effective date of the agreement, the city would be reimbursed only $2 million.

Developers also proposed more changes to the land structure including realignment of Old Black Colony Road, which would require permission from landowners in the area. The cost of a proposed realignment of FM 967 would be borne by the developer.

Cole Springs Road will also see some improvements. Developers would pave 1,944 feet of roadway, but the city would be expected to reimburse the developer up to $700,000.

Baker also proposed a new, two-lane collector road with six-foot bike lanes and six-foot wide walkways on each side. The pavement for vehicles would be 22 feet wide, and with the planting buffer, the total width of the street would be 70 feet. This would create a connection from Cole Springs Road to Old Black Colony.

Council members expressed a number of concerns including a possible impact to tax rates for Buda residents. They also questioned how the proposed bridge could be built for just $2.8 million, and wanted assurances that the city could be reimbursed more than $2 million if the bridge ran over cost or if permitting took more than four years.

“I’m not ready to say that I approve,” said council member Evan Ture. “We’ve got more questions than answers at this point, so that’s where I’m coming from.”

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