Engineer’s comments from February 2018

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. These reviews were submitted in February.

Lauren Ross, PhD., P.E. (Glenrose Engineering) letter to Chad Gilpin, Dripping Springs City Engineer, February 17, 2018

Drainage review by Jeff Kessel, P.E.

Dripping Springs neighbor next to wedding venue writes in

We received an email full of bracing information. Thank you, Mr. Simanton, for writing to Friendship Alliance. We appreciate your time, and we are grateful for your insights. In full:

Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 4:06 PM

I was at the Dripping Springs City Council meeting last night [February 13, 2018] to support your efforts to control the development of a large wedding venue in your neighborhood.  I had planned to speak if needed, but it seems you had quite a few folks wanting to speak.

But, you may ask, who am I and why do I want to support you and speak out on your behalf?  I do not live anywhere near your neighborhood, nor do I really know anyone in your neighborhood other than the nice folks I met at the council meeting.

I want to support your cause because I have painful, first-hand knowledge of what happens when a wedding venue moves into your neighborhood.  Two wedding venues opened up near my land.  One is next door to my land, the other is a little over half a mile away.  So I have experience with both very close and nearby wedding venues.  I don’t want others to suffer the way my neighbors and I have.

Here is what you can expect:

1. Noise.  Remember those quiet weekend nights where you can sit on the porch and look at the stars, listen to the breeze in the trees, hear the sounds of nature?  I say “remember” because you will no longer get to enjoy those nights.  Even if the venue close to me is not having an event, the one further away is still so loud we can hear music, yelling, hooting, hollering, traffic, car alarms, arguments in the parking lot, buses backing up, loud bass noise bumping through your bones…I could go on.  Again, that place is half a mile from me, over a hill, and it is STILL loud.

Even after we sued the venues to keep all their music INSIDE (the suit is still ongoing) and they have mostly complied, you still get the bass noise, which travels for miles.  And of course you get the yelling, the hooting, hollering and general idiocy of drunk city folks out in the country.   How many cars will there be?  Each one will give you the “beep-beep” or “honk” whenever someone locks or unlocks the vehicle.  Buses and trucks will beeep-beeep-beeep when backing up, and some back up for a loooong time.  I recorded one that had the backup alarm going for over 5 minutes.

A side note on noise:  Like most venues, Mark Black has promised to keep it “under 85 decibels”  Why is this?  Because 85 decibels is a criminal statute.  They THINK that they can legally do anything up to 85 decibels with no repercussions.  But noise at 50 decibels 200 feet from our house can easily be heard inside our house, quite loudly.  85 decibels is like someone running a chainsaw 10 feet from your head.  It is LOUD.  Call them out on this when they mention the 85 db number.

2. Drunks.  What do people do at weddings?  They drink.  A LOT.  They get loud.  They yell.  They hoot.  They argue.  They fight.  They break bottles on the road.  And they drive, while drunk, on your roads.

3. Traffic.  Buses LOVE to block roads.  For some reason, bus drivers think it is perfectly acceptable to load, unload or even park right in the middle of a road.  Sometimes they pull a little off to the side so you can get around them, where you cannot see oncoming traffic.  Sometimes they park in front of your mailboxes, or your driveway.  Or they turn around and run over plants and things on your property…but if you aren’t there to see it and take pictures, you have no proof.

Then there are the hundreds of cars.  They tend to drive and park where they please.  They love to rev their engines, especially the city kids with 4WD trucks when they encounter any kind of hill.  And they are often piloted by people who have been drinking.  Don’t let your children go anywhere near the roads on weekends.  Don’t jog or walk your dogs along the roads on weekends.  And hope your animals don’t ever get out of the fence.

4. Strangers.  I think this actually bothers me the most.  What good is a neighborhood and knowing your neighbors when HUNDREDS of complete strangers are allowed to invade your neighborhood each week?  They don’t care about your neighborhood.  They litter, make noise, destroy property and then have the audacity to yell at you to be quiet when you try to mow your lawn on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
And they trespass.  We have good fences, signs and gates, yet we still have “adventurous” wedding guests come on our land and even try to get in our house.  Maybe they do just want to “pet the donkeys”, but in my experience, city folks have little respect for rural property.  Sheds and cabins on our property seem to be a magnet for bored wedding guests, often of the teenage type.  (Admittedly, I was probably like this when I was a teen boy, so I know how they are.)

I could probably come up with even more reasons to fight a venue nearby, but I think this is enough.  Note that these are only 150 person (next door) and 250 person (1/2 mile away, over a hill) venues.  I cannot imagine how disturbing a 600 person venue would be.  You have my sympathy, and you have my help if needed.   …Please share this email with the Friendship Alliance, you may post it on your web site if you wish.  If possible, have someone read at least an excerpt from the list above to help convince the council to delay the permit until Mark Black et al has addressed all of these issues.  I’m convinced that there are probably good wedding venues that do respect their neighbors, but my experience is not proof of that.

You can never get your peace back once it is gone.

I wish you the best.

Regards,
——————–
———————
Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Watch out, neighbors

Originally printed here:

Watch out, neighbors

 

Regarding the article: Protests grow as wedding venue sets to open in residential area

My advice to Friendship Alliance is: stop them; stop them at all cost. 

We live in a residential area where several years after we moved here a wedding venue was quietly built right next to our property.  We also heard the same kind of rhetoric from the owners about community concerns and operating the venue on a low-key basis with strict rules. Once they were established, it became obvious there was very little concern for the residents. Their focus was to grow the business.

Now, delivery and trash trucks are frequent, busses park near our property and continuously run through the event duration. Litter along the roads has increased. Noise levels are no longer monitored and “supposed” restrictions are not enforced. Most importantly, residential property values fell. No one wants to live next to or near a wedding/event venue!

Michael & Mark Black say they are giving “heavy” consideration to community concerns but the article in the News-Dispatch raises serious red flags about their intentions.   

S. Schouten

Dripping Springs

New board members for Friendship Alliance in 2017

A mighty big thanks to the men and women who have served on the board previously! Rob Baxter, thank you. Brian Dudley, thank you too.

For continuing to serve, we thank now our current at-large Board members: Dixie Camp and Neil Carman.

Welcome back to Jonathan Steinberg, one of the original board members of Friendship Alliance. He is back for more! He is our institutional memory in addition to being our third at-large Board member now.

We are pleased to announce these officers added to Friendship Alliance Executive Committee: Carlos Torres-Verdin as President, Terry Shaw as Vice President, and Jeanine Christensen as Secretary.

The Future Rolls Toward Dripping Springs — Riding Bulldozers and Money

by Amy Smith and Rob Curran
(Original story at: Austin Chronicle on September 21, 2001)

[….] Admittedly, the Goldenwood and Radiance neighbors seldom followed the municipal affairs of sleepy Dripping Springs, largely because they felt removed from local politics, living 12 miles outside of the city but still within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. “We were asleep,” a Goldenwood resident acknowledged. “We found everything out after the fact, and then we had to work backward to figure out what had happened.” After the initial shock wore off, the residents of the three communities hunkered down and got organized. They began meeting with Stephen Clark, the Cypress developer, and the two sides say the meetings have been cordial and somewhat productive. Clark, for example, says he’s about 90% sold on the idea of requiring native-plant landscaping for the development and about 50% convinced that a rebate-incentives program would encourage prospective residents to install rainwater-harvesting systems on their property. “They’re so nice,” Clark says of his new neighbors. “When they ask me to do something it’s hard to say no.”

Not everything is going as smoothly as Clark suggests, however. The residents, for example, feel strongly that the project should have third-party oversight, while the developer feels just as strongly against. At any rate, until he secures environmental clearance from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Clark says he’s uncertain whether he’ll develop according to his existing plans — plans that call for a subdivision of single-family homes, townhomes, some commercial property, a school, and the project’s prized jewel: a 27-hole golf course.

The Cypress project has also caught the attention of area environmentalists: Not only is it the largest of some 19 platted developments planned for northern Hays County, it sits directly atop the heart of the Edwards Aquifer — the porous recharge area where water seeps below ground to Barton Springs, the main drinking water source for 45,000 residents in northern Hays and southern Travis counties.

While neighborhood leaders say Clark has been willing to meet with them and consider their concerns, Dripping Springs officials have been less responsive. Rob Baxter, president of the Goldenwood Property Owners Association, said he and a group of residents had rather boldly asked the council to rescind and revise the agreement so it would be more palatable to all sides. The council declined. “Nobody likes to be told that they’re doing something wrong,” Baxter says.” But that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what makes us unpopular.” Radiance resident Roger Kew makes no excuse for the group’s unpopularity: “We feel as residents that the council members had a duty to safeguard our interests. They did not.” [….]

Go to the full story:
http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-09-21/pols_feature.html

Belterra Applies For Sewage Discharge Permit

Hays-Belterra WCID, the Water Control and Improvement District for the Belterra subdivision, has applied for a TCEQ Permit to discharge treated sewage effluent directly into Bear Creek. This is unprecedented in our area because the creeks and streams directly recharge our two major aquifers, the Trinity and Edwards, the sole water source for tens of thousands in this area. For those of us on wells in the area, this is a direct threat to our health and our home values. For those living along Bear Creek, it is also a real threat to their quality of life, since many of them swim and recreate in the creek and will no longer be able to do so safely. If this permit is approved, the precedent will be established and untold numbers of developers will undoubtedly try to Permit their wastewater plant discharge into creeks throughout the Hill Country.

There are other effluent handling methods available, such as re-use and irrigation, which is what Belterra originally espoused in their initial plans. They are apparently seeking this Permit in order to increase treatment capacity as well as increase the build-out of their 290W holdings. Please understand that once the Belterra WCID has this Permit and moves forward, the California-based real estate company pushing for this, Capital-Pacific Holdings, Inc., will someday be gone and likely no longer involved with the comings and goings of this WCID.

The link below is a PDF version of the Belterra flier that is formatted to print in large scale.

A door-to-door effort was made on Saturday April 1 to inform Belterra residents of the concerns of downstream residents.

https://friendshipalliance.org/pdfs/belterradischarge.pdf

Rainwater Harvesting book author to speak 15 October

Stephen Colley, AIA, USGBC, Co-Author of the newly updated third edition of “The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting” will offer an overview of rainwater harvesting, with Q&A to follow. This talk is open to residents and property owners in Radiance, Goldenwood, Goldenwood West and membership of Friendship Alliance.

1:30 – 2:30 pm
15 October 2005
at the Radiance Dome