The Bastrop City Council is hearing concerns about the proposed apartments
The Bastrop City Council on Tuesday heard residents’ concerns as it considered rezoning the land for a proposed multifamily residential project.
The Reed Ranch development, as the board called it, will be part of a broader development between Bastrop Middle School and Lowe’s. The council approved rezoning the land at the corner of Texas 71 and Edward Burleson Lane to expand the existing shopping center.
The city plans to extend Blakey Lane eastward, then eventually turn south and intersect with Texas 71, providing an alternative route to the freeway and connecting to the proposed apartment complex.
The original plan for the Blakey Lane extension included a connection to Riverside Grove via Jessica Place. Riverside Grove residents attended the meeting to share their concerns about property values and neighborhood safety.
“One of the things that attracted me (to Bastrop) was the big open fields teeming with cows,” one resident said. “We don’t like the idea of apartments being built next door to us. Traffic is a big concern for us because the children are playing there in the street.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission suggested there was no connection between the extension of Blakey Lane and Jessica Place. The commission also recommended the developer limit units to two stories or fewer near single-family homes in Riverside Grove, with the tallest buildings in the complex closest to Texas 71 eventually standing at four stories. A representative of Holt Lunsford Commercial, the complex’s developer, said the company would act on the committee’s recommendations.
“There are already two-story homes in this neighborhood,” City Manager Sylvia Carrillo said. “A two-storey development will cause no more adverse impact than a two-storey house next door.”
The council’s public hearing on the development will shape future discussion at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Sept. 28, Carrillo said.
Discussion Tuesday also focused on development when the council considered Mayor Lyle Nelson’s appointments to city advisory committees. Councilwoman Cheryl Lee expressed concerns about the appointment of Gary Schiff, an engineer and former council member, to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Lee said Schiff’s participation on the city manager’s committee to understand the impact of the B3 ordinance could create bias regarding his appointment to planning and zoning. Christy Koch, a local architect and current Planning and Zoning Commissioner, sat on the same select committee while serving on the zoning commission, Carrillo said. Since Koch will ultimately vote on amendments recommended by the select committee as Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Carrillo said she asked Koch to recuse herself to ensure a “clean process.”
“We previously set a precedence by having them step back from any B3 (planning and zoning) discussion,” Lee said. “Mr. Schiff participated in those (same) discussions.
The City Council is overhauling the city’s building codes and land development codes, known as B3 codes, which were adopted in 2019.
Implementing B3 codes has been difficult, Carrillo said, and has divided council members over the mayor’s appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“It’s no longer just regular zoning,” Carrillo said in an interview. “They’re form-based codes. I could have a little retail store next to a residential house, and that would be nice. B3 codes are a great plan for utopia. When you go to implementation and implementation, it’s a big deal.”
A group within city government bought into the supposed benefits of the B3 ordinance, Carrillo said. B3 has “a lot of unintended consequences” that the city is working to resolve, she said.
Outside of city planning, the council also approved a $2,500 grant to the Bastrop Public Library to purchase 150 new First Reader books. In addition, the board approved three new appointments to the Youth Advisory Board, a group of students from Bastrop schools who advise the board on youth issues.