MANAGED DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH & GREEN SPACES
Lakeway has evolved from a primarily retirement-based community to a more diverse demographic with significant growth in population, traffic and businesses, especially in the last two decades. Some of us have been residents from the beginning, but a large portion of residents chose to move here for the abundance of natural beauty, green spaces, and laidback community. It is important to manage the growth of the city to ensure that Lakeway does not lose its character and continues to provide the lifestyle that attracted us.
The comprehensive plan adopted by Lakeway in 2003 has served as the guide for development policy. This plan was meant to guide the city for the next 15 to 20 years. Now, the city is currently in the process of adopting a new comprehensive plan. Decisions made today will have a long-lasting impact on the character of the city, so it is imperative that we collect data, ask and answer the necessary questions, and analyze any consequences to arrive at the correct decisions.
Current issues include:
Lakeway Municipal Utility Development (“MUD”) owned land that is not necessarily needed by MUD (e.g. the lot behind H-E-B) worth increasingly high values. Developers are interested in some of these land parcels, but will only purchase them if the city will zone it in a certain class to enable the developers to build desired property on that land. Municipal Utility District. Developers will only buy MUD property if city will zone it certain way for development. If the city does not wish to sell such land parcels, it can purchase the land from MUD, at which point payment will be in the form of taxes on residents and business owners. There are conflicting desires to develop the property or preserve green space, but as the land continues to sit, the price continues to increase.
Development in areas neighboring Lakeway that provide alternative services and for Lakeway citizens but do not result in monetary gain for Lakeway or its citizens.
Increased traffic flow on the primary arterial road for the city, RR620, from increased population in the city and surrounding developments.
In a growing city, property taxes are at the forefront of everyone’s minds and make the lion’s share of city’s revenue. The other major revenue source are sales taxes generated from businesses. Increased population requires increased revenue and as these businesses grow, the increased property tax burden on individual residents can be reduced. Balanced growth is key.
The city has limited resources available to stop a property owner from making use of or developing their property as they deem fit, so long as the development is in line with the current zoning laws and building ordinances and does not interfere with neighbors' enjoyment of their properties. However, the city is nothing more than the collective will of the citizens. Thus, all development should be in line with what the citizenry wants. This can sometimes lead to a delicate balancing act when collective interests of the community are not aligned with an individual or a particular segment of the population.
If an owner of the property wants to develop property within current rules and regulations, the owner should be free to do so. Rules, regulations, and zoning laws are generally set up to reflect the desires of the community as to the character of the development. If a developer desires to combine parcels and/or there are parcels involved where the city may have influence upon, or the developer asks for zoning changes and variances, the decision by the city should be guided by the city’s comprehensive plan. At the end of the day, the city should benefit, not suffer, from any developments. Developers should be required to meet the timing and quality control obligations enforced by their contracts with the city.
I am not in favor of any development that is not in line with our comprehensive plan, unless the benefits enjoyed by the city would far outweigh the cost of changing regulations. Again, community input is key.
I am an engineer, lawyer and a very logical person who analyzes the data before coming to a decision. I can promise that I will hold myself to a high standard in conducting management of growth. Of course, as I stated earlier, we have a new comprehensive plan in the making that will replace what the city adopted in 2003. Once adopted, that plan will direct my decisions. Even in that endeavor, I will strive to support a comprehensive plan that meets the desires of the community at large.
Do you have thoughts on this issue? I'd love to hear them. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org