Gas storage facility concerns Wimberley

Hanging their hats on the strength of deed restrictions, residents along and near Carney Lane and Pinion Trail in Wimberley lined up to voice concerns to the Hays County Commissioners Court during their July 14 meeting.

The object of their worries is the possible location of a construction storage yard complete with above-ground gasoline storage tanks and a refueling station.

Residents of three subdivisions showed up to speak, pointing out the proximity of Wimberley High School and Danforth Junior High School to the proposed development and the fact that Carney Lane is the single access point to their homes.

Even though the owners have not submitted any site plans or requested any permits, they have installed a tall commercial fence topped with barbed ware and gates wide enough for 18-wheelers, resident DeLayne Van de Walle told commissioners and County Judge Ruben Becerra.

“Of course we are afraid for the safety of our children who go to school right up the road,” she said. “Our other worry is the safety of residents.” In the event of an explosion or fire, “there is no way out for any of us.”

Dr. Dwain York, superintendent of schools in the Wimberley ISD, pointed to the “massive traffic” already using Carney Lane including many construction vehicles. He said the school district spent $38,000 last year on a safety survey, “building speed humps and crosswalks and putting up flashing lights … we’re very concerned about the safety of our kids.”

Even since then, he said there have been “several incidents” involving flatbed trucks hauling construction materials, some of which “try to cut in between our buses.”

“It’s a very unsafe situation, the more Carney Lane is developed commercially, the more our kids are at risk. If there are fuel tanks and there is a fire, I don’t how people are going to get out … I just don’t a safe way to get around this new development.”

Another resident of the area is Elaine Cardenas, Hays County Clerk, who said she was speaking as a private citizen.

“It’s two doors down from my house,” she said, adding she’s fearful of known carcinogens in gasoline and gasoline fumes as well as the possibility of an explosion.”There are about 150 houses fairly densely packed on cul de sacs or short roads. There’s absolutely no escape for the elderly or disabled.”

Cardenas noted there’s also a county transfer station on Carney Lane that could be affected.

“I’m not an opponent of the oil and gas industry and I don’t have any quarrel with those who profit from it. For a residential community it’s simply not safe.”
She said she understands the limited power of county government but urged the elected officials to “do whatever you can to Dina an alternative solution that can keep our residents safe.”

Kara LaBlanc noted that the deed restrictions clearly state there will be no commercial or business undertakings located at the tract, both in the original plat and in a March 2019 repeat. “We call on you to use your rightful authority … the stakes are high.”

“We have a courtroom full of people,” said Shirley Schultz, many that have signed a petition opposing the development. Without naming the owners, she said one has criminal citations related to septic tank management and burn ban violations.

“There are many unanswered questions,” Schultz said.

Part of Carney Lane is within Wimberley but the site in question is in the county and therefore has no zoning, Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell told the Hays Free Press.

He said although it’s believed a construction storage yard is planned, “At this time nothing is known except that the property is being subdivided and all the rules are being followed.”

He acknowledged that the deed restrictions “could impact” the owners’ plans, nothing has yet come to the attention of the court.

“At some point the subdivision will come before the court for approval. As long as it does not have any associated variances, it will be approved since all the rules have been followed.”

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