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County pushes back hearing dates for intersection project

By Megan Wehring 

HAYS COUNTY – Following executive session on Sept. 13, the Hays County Commissioners Court voted 4-0 to push back the hearing dates established by the Right of Way Council for parcels with the Ranch Road 12 and RM 150 intersection project.

Per the court’s request, additional analysis will be performed by the council to determine the necessity of the project. 

“The condemnation was approved by the court for these three parcels back in [May] 2021,” said Commissioner Lon Shell after the vote. “Between then and now, work was being done by consultants and attorneys. There had been a hearing scheduled but at this time, we believe that we should reset those hearings to give some opportunity for us to have further discussion on the deed and exactly how this project will fit into both that area and along the timeline for the project.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
A map of the proposed roundabout at Ranch Road 12 and RM 150.

The decision was made after several public comments were made against the project, along with a discussion by the county commissioners on the item: “Discussion and possible action to terminate all county involvement and/or funding for the Ranch Road 12 and 150 intersection.”

Hays County’s realignment of RM 12 and RM 150 intersection includes installing a one-lane roundabout to improve the flow of traffic. The effort started in 2014 during the development of the FM 150 West Character Plan, which was completed in 2017. The county then conducted a traffic study using 2016 data that showed the current design was failing to control the high traffic count and number of turns – the project was approved by voters in the 2016 Hays County Road Bond Program.

Erik Howard, landowner and developer of Howard Ranch in Driftwood, was developing a project that would create a town square and local retail for employment opportunities in the neighborhood – but if the roundabout were to be built, it would interfere with Howard’s designs.

“We literally have residents in this room that have no representation in this,” Howard said at the Sept. 13 commissioners- meeting. “This is going to affect their lives. It’s going to cost them thousands of dollars; it’s going to take away a trail system, it’s going to take away private utilities; [and]it’s going to impact them in a very harmful way, now and going forward. The city of Dripping Springs loses small businesses. There are thousands of homes being built right there within a couple of miles of us [and]every one of those folks is going to have to drive into Dripping Springs for services.”

The condemnation of the three parcels, originally approved in May 2021, was currently pending on Sept. 13, 2022, General Counsel Mark Kennedy said during the agenda item (prior to executive session).

The Hays Free Press will continue to update the public as more information becomes available and developments are made.

About Author

Megan Navarro (formerly Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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