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: