The first ordinance was to clarify where special events venues, which mostly host weddings and receptions or other private parties, can operate either as an allowable use or as a use by exception.
It’s an important distinction because business owners who want to host special events as a use by exception have to go before the Planning and Zoning Board. That’s a public hearing where public comment is allowed.
“It allows for neighbors to make comments on the impact (to the area),” city Planning and Building Director David Birchim said.
Zoning areas where special events venues are allowable are Commercial Medium One (CM-1) and CM-2. The zoning areas where it is a use by exception are: Commercial Low Two (CL-2), Historic Preservation Two (HP-2), HP-3, HP-4, Residential General One (RG-1), RG-2, Residential General Office (RGO) and RGO-A.
Birchim also reminded the commissioners that the use rests solely with the applicant. It doesn’t transfer with the property should it be sold.
The ordinance has slowly evolved over the course of the past year to deal with what has become a growing business in St. Augustine. The city has been attracting more and more people as a wedding destination, and there is a scarcity of appropriate venues. That’s caused some property owners to start hosting events as the demand increases.
So city politicians and staff members are trying to accommodate the growing business while trying to keep it from causing trouble in residential neighborhoods.
Still, Commissioner Leanna Freeman said she was worried the ordinance might open too many properties to be used as special events venues without must chance to stop it. … Read more…
Update: Owera Vineyards owner Nancy Muserlian said today she is “considering what to do next” in the wake of opposition to the winery’s wedding business, and will give brides booked for this summer the opportunity to cancel their plans. Muserlian said Owera “wants to be a good neighbor.” She said Owera was disappointed that its plan to build a permanent building to house events has been rejected, and will likely move out of the wedding business in the future.
What we reported earlier:
CAZENOVIA, N.Y. — Neighbors say the music is too loud and the lights are annoying and Madison County health officials say there are problems with the water and septic service.
Put it all together, and the future of weddings and other large-scale events at the less-than-a-year-old Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia seems to be in doubt. At least 23 are scheduled there in 2014. Read more…
Press release: 12 March 2018
Despite overflow crowds at three public hearings—and a sustained, fact-based campaign by Friendship Alliance to document the dangers imposed by the project—the Dripping Springs City Council has rejected any further public input on the Mark Black Wedding Venue, scheduling its final vote for Tuesday, March 13th, at 6:30 pm.
“This is a disturbing sign,” says Dr. Carlos Torres-Verdin, President of Friendship Alliance, “that the City will bend to the pressure of an Austin business to approve a project that we contend violates the City’s very own ordinances.” The ordinances in question concern water quality, a critical issue given the venue’s location in the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones.
On several occasions in February, experts for the Friendship Alliance identified at least five engineering deficiencies related to water drainage and water treatment that put the venue in direct violation of Dripping Springs’ Water Quality Protection Ordinance as well as the engineering design code adopted by the City. The City Engineer, Chad Gilpin, requested that the applicant’s firm (Kimley-Horn) respond to these specific concerns. Recognized, professional engineering experts—Brian Dudley, P.E., Lauren Ross, PhD and P.E., and Jeff Kessel, P.E.—have determined that the newly produced materials from Kimley-Horn fail to address the deficiencies that we contend exist, thus, the project “remains materially out of compliance with the City ordinance[s] … listed.” (See the attached letter from Dr. Torres-Verdin and Mr. Dudley to Mayor Todd Purcell, which summarizes the specific findings in Dr. Ross’s and Mr. Kessel’s reports—also attached.)
A letter from Austin attorney James M. Richardson of Richardson + Burgess LLP, writing on behalf of Friendship Alliance, further details the violations that the Friendship Alliance contends would occur if a permit is issued —“prohibited material increase in storm water runoff into creeks and neighboring lands…; prohibited material increase of pollutants into creeks…; prohibited runoff from roads and parking lots into the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone…; failure to analyze phosphorous and oil and grease pollution”—noting as well the many troubling discrepancies in the project applications submitted to different regulatory agencies. There are, for example, “material unexplained discrepancies in the volume of water to be used and wastewater disposed of by the facilities … in project plans and applications submitted to Hays County, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the City of Dripping Springs.”
Such inconsistencies in key baseline calculations and divergent designs in “required certifications for applications to governmental authorities” are serious and should trigger heightened scrutiny from the City, but there has been a notable lack of concern over these and similar “process irregularities,” according to Torres-Verdin. He asks, for example, “Why did Mr. Gilpin fully approve the project at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on January 23, 2018 when our engineering experts testified not only then but several times afterward that there were serious deficiencies and irregularities in the site development plan?”
City oversight has been “perfunctory at best,” he continues. “It’s obvious that the City Engineer doesn’t have the time or bandwidth to carefully review site development applications, and to request and track the necessary changes to them.” The applicant has had the ability to take advantage of the situation, Torres-Verdin says, and, despite being “given three different opportunities to produce a design in regulatory compliance, they and their engineers have, according to experts, failed three times.” Friendship Alliance, on the other hand, has enlisted significant technical and legal assistance to mount a strong case against the wedding venue. “This shouldn’t be necessary,” says Torres-Verdin. “Very few citizens will have the knowledge or engineering or legal representation to stop a faulty engineering project from affecting their neighborhood.”
Friendship Alliance also commissioned its own study—two of them, in fact—to measure the greatly increased traffic that the wedding venue will bring and to document the tangible threats to life and limb owing to its location in the heart of three semi-rural neighborhoods, all of them sharing just one narrow road in and out, especially in the event of an emergency evacuation. “We’re concerned enough about the safety of our neighbors to do the research that the applicant—and the City—should have done,” says Torres-Verdin. Friendship Alliance marshaled evidence—“undisputed,” he points out—from Dr. Siamak Ardekani, Professor of Civil Engineering and nationally recognized traffic engineer, and City of Los Angeles Fire Captain Cristian Granucci, who has twenty-eight years’ experience fighting fires in the urban-rural interface that typifies the surrounding area. But, despite this evidence of the unsafe conditions that will prevail when the wedding venue operates at capacity, creating traffic “choke points” blocking fire and emergency vehicles along the single road in and out, neither the City of Dripping Springs nor Hays County nor the developer will commit to make any improvements to the road.
“It may be that, even in the face of all our scientific evidence, City Council members fear legal action if they don’t approve the venue,” Torres-Verdin hypothesizes in a nod to the development lawyer (Richard Suttle) whom the applicant has retained. And a developer’s threat of legal action usually works remarkably well in a town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, where political accountability is intentionally fragmented and spread so thin that it cannot serve as a check against the power that money buys. “But we want to remind Council members that state law also compels them to comply with—and to enforce—their own codes and ordinances, even in the face of possible lawsuits.”
“From the very beginning,” notes Torres-Verdin, “Friendship Alliance was told that the law is on the developer’s side. He can do whatever he likes with his property.” But, besides pointing out the harm to his neighbors’ own property rights and their enjoyment thereof posed by a large, busy, and noisy commercial enterprise bulldozed in the heart of long-established neighborhoods—several of them explicitly spiritual—Torres-Verdin also points out “the irony of it all. No, the law isn’t on ‘their side.’ At least some of it is squarely on our side—and on the side of the City Council if they choose to enforce those water quality ordinances, for instance.”
Ultimately, Friendship Alliance aims to hold all officials, City, County, and State, to enforcing whatever laws haven’t been designed precisely to “tie their hands” with respect to disputes between commercial and residential property owners—and, more broadly, to uphold their civic duty to preserve the safety, well-being, and rights of all 30,000 citizens within the ETJ, not just the 1,600 or so registered voters in the City proper.
Torres-Verdin insists, “Our fight against this particular wedding venue is not an isolated event. Honestly, everyone across Hays County should take heed, even if they haven’t been threatened just yet by a giant storage facility, or a big box store, or a pricey wedding venue going up next door.” The Mark Black Wedding Venue offers an urgent reminder that citizens living in an ETJ—a kind of unincorporated “Wild West”—must have better protection under the law and a more robust voice in the political process.
He concludes: “Enough is enough. The Applicant is taking advantage of the City Council—all of them unpaid for their efforts—and taking advantage of their future neighbors and fellow Hays County citizens.” In an area where development policy has systematically favored businesses over communities, Friendship Alliance aspires to “set a precedent with the City of Dripping Springs,” says Torres-Verdin, “to restore accountability and oversight of businesses that fail to respect either their neighbors or the environment.”
March 9, 2017
City of Dripping Springs City Council Honorable Mayor Todd Purcell
511 Mercer St,
Dripping Springs, Texas 78620
Ms. Laura Mueller
Attorney at Law
Assistant City Attorney
City of Dripping Springs
511 Mercer St,
Dripping Springs, Texas 78620
Re: Site Development Permit – Mark Black Wedding Venue
Dear Mayor Purcell:
I write on behalf of The Friendship Alliance in connection with the City of Dripping Springs’ consideration of a pending site development plan application for the Mark Black Wedding Venue. The application proposes construction of two buildings for events, a front office and commercial kitchen with associated parking, sidewalk, septic system, private well water, and utilities located at Concord Circle, Driftwood, Texas.
The proposed site is located within the sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones. Strict compliance with applicable water quality ordinances is required.
For all of the reasons stated below – and as presented to the City Council in writing at the public meeting on February 20, 2018, and later on March 2, 2018, and previously by way of a series of presentations and expert reports
(See Reports of Brian Dudley, P.E., Lauren Ross, Ph.D., P.E., and Jeff Kessel, P.E. The Friendship Alliance hereby incorporates by reference all its written submissions, presentations, and expert reports – and analyses of those reports – previously submitted to the City of Dripping Springs.)
– the issuance of a site development permit for the Mark Black Wedding Venue should be denied because such action will result in at least five if not more distinct violations of the Water Quality Protection Ordinance, and other laws, as follows.
1. Issuance of a permit will result in a prohibited material increase in storm water runoff into creeks and neighboring lands in violation of Water Quality Protection Ordinance Sec. 22.05.023;
2. Issuance of a permit will result in a prohibited material increase of pollutants into creeks in violation of Water Quality Protection Ordinance Sec. 22.05.015(c);
3. Issuance of a permit will result in a prohibited runoff from roads and parking lots into the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone of in violation of Water Quality Protection Ordinance Sec. 22.05.019(a);
4. Issuance of a permit will result in a prohibited construction of impervious cover downstream of water quality controls in violation of Water Quality Protection Ordinance Sec. 22.05.017, and;
5. Issuance of a permit will result in a prohibited failure to analyze phosphorous and oil and grease pollution in violation of Water Quality Protection Ordinance Sec. 22.005(c) (3).
In addition, required certifications for applications to governmental authorities by the Mark Black Wedding Venue are inconsistent and violate city and county ordinances as well as state law. Specifically, project plans approved by Hays County for the construction of the On- Site Sewage Facilities System (OSSF), including the site collection system, are inconsistent with the OSSF previously acted upon by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Edward’s Aquifer Group.
For example, the design set filed with the City of Dripping Springs and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is believed to identify totally different sewage collection systems than the system actually approved for construction by Hays County. The defect is fatal to the applicant’s position because the sewage collection system, as approved by Hays County, requires the applicant to develop an Organized Sewage Collection System Plan (OSCS) in compliance with Chapter 26 of Texas Water Code and 30 TAC 213 and 217, and applicable regulations, and submit such plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval.
The applicant has also declined to address material unexplained discrepancies in the volume of water to be used and disposed of by the facilities. These discrepancies are evident in project plans and applications submitted to Hays County, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the City of Dripping Springs.
Estimates of water required, as specified in the HTGCD application – and the water usage and disposal rates in the Hays County OSSF application – are completely contradictory. The basis calculations specified are inconsistent. Assumption of domestic sewage rates do not include a demonstration or required basis for values provided for the proposed commercial kitchen. Moreover, no calculations are provided for estimating the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) load to the domestic treatment system included with the plan set from the wedding venues or the commercial kitchen.
These material deficiencies should be considered in the context of other troubling violations. For example, the applicant has failed to demonstrate that it obtained a permit necessary to a “taking” of an endangered species in the designated habitat of the proposed development.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the proposed development lies well within the habitat of the endangered Golden-cheeked warbler (GCW). However, to the best of our knowledge at this time, the applicant has not demonstrated the required permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nor has the applicant addressed the fact that bulldozing, construction, development, amplified noise, and loud parties typically contribute to a finding of a “taking”2 under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Activities within the habitat of the GCW, including activity that may disturb its habitat, are prohibited during the nesting season of March 1 through September 1. The Code of Ordinances requires proper collateral permitting prior to issuance of a site development permit.
2 The term “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Moreover, the term “harm” may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering.
Apart from the serious deficiencies addressed above, please also respectfully accept this objection to the City’s decision to disallow a public hearing related to the completely new site development plan and design filed by the applicant after the February 20th public hearing.
Indeed, it was only recently discovered that the City Engineer privately informed the applicant before the February 20th public hearing of a request to defer City action on the application until March 13, 2018. The City Council – without informing the public on February 20th of the City Engineer’s request – granted it with the notation that no public hearing would occur on March 13th. By implication, the result is that continued material deficiencies and ordinance violations will not be addressed in a public hearing.
Unfortunately, the City’s position today is that it never needed to grant a public hearing in the first place on an application for site development permit, and that with respect to the proposed ordinance violations reported by the Friendship Alliance, the City can now decide not to allow resolution of continuing violations and engineering deficiencies in a public hearing.
Finally, the City also inexplicably extended the deadline it imposed on the applicant at the public hearing on February 20, 2018. At that time, the City – in response to numerous potential violations of ordinances – imposed a new deadline on the applicant to file a new, most- hearing site development design and engineering report. On the record, the City directed The Friendship Alliance to file a written response to the new report no later than the close of business on March 2, 2018. As we now know, the applicant effectively ignored the City’s request by filing a new report that failed to address any of the City Engineer’s questions.
On March 8, 2018, however, nearly a full week after The Friendship Alliance’s response was timely filed identifying these continued violations, the City inexplicably allowed the applicant to file additional expert reports after the deadline passed, all while insisting – in a significant change of the protocol announced on February 20th – that the Friendship Alliance would have only twenty-four hours to respond.
Such procedural irregularities – including ‘hopscotching’ from public hearings to nonpublic hearings with the result that important comments regarding potential violations of ordinances cannot be lodged – seriously interfere with the fair and proper application of the site development plan permitting process.
Respectfully, The Friendship Alliance reiterates its previous request for a public hearing on March 13th regarding issues of the City’s compliance or lack thereof with its ordinances.
For all of the reasons stated above, and pursuant Sec. 28.04.011 of the City of Dripping Springs Code of Ordinances, the application for a site development permit should be denied without leave for further continued opportunities to amend.
Thank you for your attention to this letter.
RICHARDSON + BURGESS LLP
By: James M. Richardson
President, Friendship Alliance
Dear Mayor Todd Purcell,
Dear Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds,
Dear City Council Member Taline Manassian,
Dear City Council Member Travis Crow,
Dear City Council Member Wade King,
Dear City Council Member John Kroll,
Regarding: Mark Black Wedding Venue
On Saturday, March 3, 2018, at 3 PM, Friendship Alliance (FA) conducted an organized live traffic study to assess the effects of vehicular traffic on Crystal Hills Dr. expected from the operation of the Mark Black Wedding Venue (MBWV). The study was conducted with 78 vehicles, which would correspond to approximately 50% and 25% of the vehicular traffic expected from the operation of 1 and 2 of the venues projected for the MBWV, respectively, without taking into account additional traffic due to vehicles to be used by staff, caterers, musicians, and other venue operators, competing weddings held at the Wizard Academy, or circumstances requiring.
Previously, in January, 2018, we conducted a formal traffic impact analysis based on road counts over a 5-day period. Results from this January study are here.
However, the live traffic study serves for the important purpose of visualizing a partial projected impact of vehicular traffic on Crystal Hills Dr and confirms professional findings from the January, 2018 study.
Please take a look at the video and judge the traffic impact of the MBWV with your own eyes! Seeing is believing beyond the calculations.
What you see on the video should be multiplied by at least a factor of 2 to visualize what Crystal Hills Dr. would be like with the operation of one single wedding venue at the MBWV. Multiply that by 4 and then you can visualize the effect of two wedding venues in simultaneous operation (actually, a factor of 4 is a very conservative estimate because of the “choke” effect at FM 1826).
Some important observations:
Current time of travel from the MBWV entrance to FM 1826 is approximately 2 minutes without venue operations.
Average travel time with one venue in operation = approximately 10 minutes.
Average travel time with two venues in operation = approximately 20 minutes.
These times are conservative estimates during the time window when MBWV clients will be entering and exiting the venue.
What does it mean to anyone driving on Crystal Hills Dr during Fridays or weekends?
(1) You will be significantly delayed if you happen to drive during the time windows of ingress and egress of invitees of the MBWV.
(2) The safety of Crystal Hills Dr. will be significantly degraded because of the excess vehicular traffic during ingress and egress of clients of the MBWV. The video shows that sharp curves and blind curves become alarmingly unsafe with the excess vehicular traffic.
(3) The traffic already generated by Wizard Academy compounds the safety problems because of the narrow and sharp ingress and egress of cars into that facility. The possibility of MBWV clients egressing under the influence of alcohol consumption compounds the problems even more.
(4) You won’t be able to walk, jog, or bicycle on Crystal Hills Dr. during ingress or egress of clients of the MBWV because of the deteriorated road safety conditions.
(5) The intersection of Crystal Hills Dr. and FM 1826 will become a serious “choke” point that will also affect residents of Rim Rock.
(6) You will not be able to safely evacuate in the event of fire because Crystal Hills Rd. will become a long, static parking lot with the traffic generated by guests of the MBWV and neighbors attempting to evacuate.
What are the solutions to the above problems?
(1) Reduce the size of the MBWV so that Crystal Hills Dr. is safe to drive during ingress and egress of their invitees with the current road conditions.
(2) Improve and widen Crystal Hills Dr. before the MBWV starts its operations. However, this will only be a partial solution because of the “choke” point at FM 1826.
(3) Widen and improve the bridge on Crystal Hills Dr. at the intersection of FM 1826 before the MBWV starts operations. The northbound turn into Crystal Hills Dr. is too sharp and becomes too dangerous with the excess vehicular traffic.
(4) Place a traffic light at the intersection of Crystal Hills Dr. and FM 1826 to partially alleviate the “choke” traffic point at that intersection.
It is highly irresponsible to allow operations of the MBWV with the current design of Crystal Hills Dr. The MBWV needs to be resized to be consistent with the level of service and safety standards of Crystal Hills Dr. Business operations of the MBWV should not start until Crystal Hills Dr. is safe and enables expedient evacuation of neighbors and MBWV guests in the event of fire. Who will be responsible and accountable for accidents and loss of life if the current design of the MBWV is approved by the City of Dripping Springs, by Hays County, and by the State of Texas?
We would like to thank all the neighbors who participated in the live traffic study; they made a great difference in perception. Mike Dunmire and Carlos Torres-Verdin coordinated the preparation and execution of the live traffic study. Laurel Treviño organized and tabulated the times of travel submitted by most of the drivers in the study and measured the baseline times used in the calculations. Thanks to all!
Friendship Alliance engaged Dr. Siamak Ardekani, PhD, P.E. of University Texas at Arlington to provide Traffic Impact Analysis re: the Mark Black Wedding Venue project, Agenda Item F, for the City of Dripping Springs Planning & Zoning Commissioners on January 23, 2018.
Cristian Granucci, City of Los Angeles Fire Captain and a resident of Goldenwood subdivision, spoke to the City of Dripping Springs Planning & Zoning commissioners on January 23, 2018 about evacuation logistics and fire safety as impacted by the proposed Mark Black Wedding Venue project. The project accommodates up to 600 wedding guest in two buildings. Hundreds of families already resident rely on a single 20-foot wide unlit winding county road as a sole lifeline to RR1826 in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Cristian Granucci has served 28 years in the fire department, with deep experience fighting wild land fires. As a resident who lives close to the proposed project, he has seen the dense fuel loads, including juniper trees, as well as the size and condition of existing roads that serve hundreds of residents.
His analysis of current conditions is certainly sobering.
Dear Mayor Purcell,
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds,
and Councilmembers Manassian, Crow, King and Kroll,
We are concerned about the many issues still to be resolved re the Mark Black Wedding Venue (MBWV) project. Namely:
- Project plans most recently resubmitted by the Applicant to the City still do not address previously noted water quality ordinance violations. Recognized, professional engineering experts engaged by Friendship Alliance (FA) have shown that the water drainage/water treatment design of the MBWV continues to violate City ordinances and engineering design code adopted by the City itself. The City is compelled to comply with its own codes and ordinances, even if there is the threat of possible lawsuits by the applicant. The City should deny the Applicant its development permit because the latter has consistently submitted deficient engineering design and has not provided sufficient evidence of calculations and methods.
- The Applicant did not adequately respond to technical comments requested by the City and stemming from the technical objections raised by Friendship Alliance on February 20.
- The City Council should inform FA of any feedback given to the mayor and councilmembers by the City Engineer concerning the FA technical/engineering comments, in the same way the City informs the Applicant of comments received by FA. This communication should take place well before the City Council meeting on March 13, 2018.
- The City Council should allow public comments about the MBWV on March 13, 2018 because the Applicant has systematically failed to abide by city ordinances and professional engineering code. As long as unresolved issues continue to be unaddressed, the public and especially all affected residents should be allowed to freely express their views about the design of the MBWV and its impact on the neighborhoods and the neighbors who live there now, some of whom have lived in for up to 35 years.
- The City Council should allow public comments on March 13 about the MBWV by the recognized professional engineering experts who provided their feedback to FA.
- Health and safety issues re emergency egress on an inadequate road as shown by FA’s traffic engineer expert have yet to be resolved by the Applicant.
- The size (600-guest total capacity) and design of the MBWV are not consistent with Crystal Hills Drive and the spiritual makeup of the surrounding existing neighborhoods.
- The Applicant has not made any written commitments / concessions to neighbors concerns, despite the fact that his project will overload Crystal Hills Drive beyond accepted levels of vehicular traffic service, will impair any fire evacuation efforts, and will forever disrupt the peaceful and spiritual communities around his property.
City of Dripping Springs City Council
511 Mercer Street
Dripping Springs, Texas 78620
Dear Honorable Mayor Todd Purcell:
The three engineers previously engaged by The Friendship Alliance (FA) for this project have reviewed the Mark Black Wedding Venue (MBWV) design documents submitted with a letter from Kimley-Horn dated February 19, 2018. These documents were produced by the applicant in response to the February 12, 2018 letter from Dripping Springs’s (DS) City Engineer, Mr. Chad Gilpin, which included five “specific items that are being requested by the City to be included in the Site Development Plan Set and/or Engineering Report to address the FA letters”. Four reports from FA engineers were also referenced, which were provided to Kimley-Horn by the City.
The FA engineers (Brian Dudley, P.E., Lauren Ross, PhD, P.E., and Jeff Kessel, P.E.) have determined that the newly produced Kimley-Horn materials are unresponsive to the City Engineer’s letter and the other engineering review reports referenced therein. The deficiencies that remain in the Site Plan are summarized below in the order of the comments contained in the City Engineer’s letter, dated February 19, 2018. Additional details are provided in the attached FA engineers’ reports. The project remains materially out of compliance with the City ordinance provisions listed at the end of this letter.
Items requested by the City are listed below and followed by our summary review comments:
- Final design for Curb Inlet/Bay‐Filter system that you volunteered to add to address a specific FA concern. Basic design was previously shown in supplemental data.
Sheet 41: Curbs adjacent to inlets need to be labeled and the drainage area serving the curb inlets needs to be correctly delineated (including the handicapped parking area downgrade from BF-1 and the roadway containing a ditchline downgrade from BF-2).
In reviewing the Bay Filter performance tables on Sheets 37, 38 and 43 (2 places), the TSS results are different in every one of the tables. Also when compared to the 12/18/2017 Plan set, the same areas, IC and results show up in the various tables. The filter system has not been redesigned even though K-H said that BF-2 would have to be “upsized” with the added curb inlets (2/12/18 letter). Also, nowhere do we find any required stormwater storage calculations that are discussed in the Guidance Manual Appendix that was part of K-H’s resubmittal. Thus, the added curb inlet system has not been engineered as proposed by K-H or as required by the WQP ordinance.
Other deficiencies are listed in both Dr. Ross’ attached letter and her February 17 letter. These have not been addressed by the resubmittal and additional engineering is necessary for compliance with City of DS’s Ordinance.
- Clarification of the pollutant load removal efficiency of the Bay Filter units you are proposing.
The Technical Guidance Manual that was provided details design and calculation methods including pretreatment, bypass, stormwater storage and filtration. The Application does not contain complete calculations and the design features described in this manual. See also comment in No 1 above. Information on the Flexstorm product was included, but it is not apparent how this project may use this product. Dr. Ross’ attached letter further describes limitations of some of the provided resources.
- Oil/Grease and Phosphorus removal back up calculations including VFS areas per BMP sub-basin.
Dr. Ross’ attached letter lists a number of factors that have not been properly considered or designed which result in the project failing to meet the 90% removal of the increase in Total Suspended Solids and Total Phosphorous.
- Existing vs Proposed condition hydrograph(s) to clarify your statement of “no increased flow resulting from proposed conditions”. In addition, provide discussion elaborating on the “improved conditions of site vegetation” after development and resulting curve numbers.
The Engineer’s selected points of analysis (along the downstream creek channel) are too far from the drainage systems that would be most affected by the proposed development. In particular, the drainage channel immediately below the developed Venue A site will be subject to larger volumes of runoff, over longer flow durations as a consequence of the added impervious cover. The City’s water quality code (22.05.019 (e) is written to protect these on-site drainage ways from the erosive effects of the increase flow volumes and velocities. The Engineer’s updated plans do not comply with this code requirement. His original calculation was not done per code at this location or using the proper design storm as outlined in my original review comments (Feb 19), and this comment was not addressed in his recent (Feb 26) response. Applying this WQ code, we estimate a much lower allowable peak flowrate than that implied by K-H estimates near this location, by a factor of 10. In my opinion the natural drainage channel in Drainage Area 2 (PR-2) will be subject to a significantly higher erosion potential under the proposed conditions than under today’s conditions. A drainage analysis is required for this channel using the 2 year, 3 hour storm information and demonstrating a flow rate a prescribed in the ordinance.
Other analysis concerns, including additional engineering design needed for the temporary sedimentation ponds, are contained in Jeff Kessel’s attached letter. Dr. Ross’ letter contains information supporting use of more appropriate curve numbers in the drainage analyses.
- Updated roadway typical section with notes and symbology to clarify your stated intent to place topsoil and revegetation up to the edge of pavement.
This is a nonstandard design as 2.5 inches of topsoil over compacted crushed stone is not a sufficient root zone to establish vegetation and create conditions significantly different from impervious cover. With calculations and maintenance provisions it may qualify for partial area credit towards the impervious cover percentage.
Because of limitations, errors, and calculation omissions listed above and in described in reports from our engineers, the design and alleged performance has not been demonstrated and is not verifiable. The Site Plan remains out of compliance with:
- 05.015 Performance Standards
- 90% Removal of 3 Constituents (Section (c)(3)), and
- 05.019 Erosive Flow Control
- Stormwater discharge into a waterway (Section (e)).
Additionally, until BF-2 is engineered to filter water captured by the curb inlets, the design is out of compliance with:
- 05.016 Impervious Cover
- Impervious cover downstream from water quality controls (Section (f)), and
- 05.019 Erosive Flow Control
- Untreated runoff over a CEF (Section (a)).
Finally, the impervious cover calculations require revision using innovative method credits to demonstrate compliance with:
- 05.016 Impervious Cover
- 10% Impervious Cover Limit (Sections (a)-(e)).
In sum, the newly produced materials only serve to confirm that the Applicant’s design fails in numerous material respects to comply with the City’s own ordinances, which the City itself is required by state law to enforce. We remain seriously concerned about these engineering deficiencies and resulting regulatory noncompliance by the proposed Mark Black Wedding Venue. Supporting reports prepared by engineering experts are attached, and objections raised in their previous reports, which were attached to our February 19, 2018 letter, persist as significant problems that have not been addressed at all, much less adequately addressed by the Applicant.
Based on the engineering deficiencies and proposed code/ordinance violations associated with this project, which are again confirmed by the newly produced materials, the Application should be denied, as Kimley-Horn has already been granted more than sufficient time to achieve compliance. If additional revisions are made by Kimley-Horn, we respectfully request that we be given sufficient “quality” time to verify and vet those revisions.
Finally, pursuant to state law and the City’s own procedures, please also accept this letter as a formal request by The Friendship Alliance to submit public comments at the next City Council meeting with respect to the late filed materials produced last Monday at 5 p.m., which were required to have been furnished by the Applicant prior to the last city council meeting. Unfortunately, through no fault of anyone except the Applicant, Kimley-Horn did not timely furnish any of these materials or other data necessary to correct previous deficiencies. However, the omission deprived citizens of the legal right to comment on those materials.
Accordingly, please advise us in writing before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, whether the City will allow public comment at the March 13, 2018 City Council meeting regarding the newly furnished materials.
We thank you for your consideration of this letter requesting that the application be denied, or alternatively, that any decision by the City be postponed in order to bring his project into regulatory compliance with the City’s own ordinances and state law.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Carlos Torres-Verdin, Ph.D.
President, The Friendship Alliance, Inc.
Brian Dudley, P.E.
City of Dripping Springs’ Council Members, Michelle Fischer, Ginger Faught, Chad Gilpin, P.E.
Here are the reviews from two professional environmental engineers hired by Friendship Alliance to provide the further analyses of revisions to the Mark Black Wedding Venue site development plan permit application provided to the City of Dripping Springs.