Texas 130 meeting paves way to more meetings

Officials cite need for bigger discussion of growth questions for

Dear FA Friends, Neighbors and Members, Seems Regional Planning is catching on. Let’s hope it really works here. We know it has elsewhere in the US. The article below outlines the general need for planning around Texas 130, which is akin to the FA asking for planning around and ahead of LCRA pipelines. Envision Central Texas, which the FA still has a board member on, will be taking the lead here, it appears. Please read on for the Statesman article below.

Texas 130 meeting paves way to more meetings

Officials cite need for bigger discussion of growth questions for tollway corridor

By Stephen Scheibal AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Friday, July 8, 2005

More than two dozen Austin-area planners piled into a boardroom Thursday to begin — or, really, begin to begin — plotting the future of the corridor around the new Texas 130 toll road.

Everyone quickly agreed they will need more people next time.

The meeting was designed to deepen the talks that organizers hope will evolve into a growth plan for the 130 corridor.

The 49-mile road, half of which will be beyond Austin’s regulatory reach, will probably ignite a building boom along the region’s historically neglected eastern flank. But most of the cities, counties and other agencies along the corridor lack the jurisdiction or the resources to plan for the growth, leaving residents and officials in fear of poor development that could sap tax rolls with high maintenance costs and lower property values.

Thursday’s meeting involved a range of parties with an interest in the corridor. Yet organizers conceded that the spectrum will be far too narrow to plan development in the corridor.

So those present agreed to convene a much larger meeting this fall. And most agreed that Envision Central Texas, an Austin-rooted planning group, should coordinate future talks.

Thursday’s discussions helped illuminate some of the pitfalls that planners will face as they try to plot the future of the Texas 130 corridor:

* Austin City Manager Toby Futrell warned that officials must avoid allowing the tollway to become a dividing line between rich and poor.

* Representatives from the Lower Colorado River Authority, the agency that manages most of the region’s surface water, offered to work with rural officials to discuss the new highway and what it will bring.

* West Lake Hills Mayor Dwight Thompson, who is chairman of a group of 21 Central Texas cities, said policies must ensure that smaller jurisdictions will join the planning process and not desert it.

* Bob Tesch, chairman of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, warned that some landowners probably will be asked to give up property rights and might fight the planning process.

* John Langmore, an Envision Central Texas committee chairman, noted that no single agency has planning jurisdiction over all of 130’s path.

“We do not want history to repeat itself and have 130 turn into (Interstate) 35,” Langmore said. He added that along the region’s often-clogged spine, “Pretty much whatever anybody wants to put up, that they can financially afford to put up, goes up.”

But the most prescient warning for Central Texas — a region in which distrustful governments sometimes spend as much time fighting as they do cooperating — may have come from Guadalupe County Judge Donald Schraub, whose court in Seguin is closer to San Antonio than Austin.

Schraub attended the meeting to remind officials that Texas 130, originally planned to extend all the way to the San Antonio area, will go no further south than Travis County when the first phase opens in less than three years. He came away less than optimistic that officials will draft a regional plan that would appeal to an entire region.

“I think a bunch of people have gotten their minds set about what they want to see,” Schraub said. “Cities have notoriously always taken advantage of rural areas.”

sscheibal@statesman.com; 445-3819