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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
December 18, 2501     Hays Free Press
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December 18, 2501

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Page 6A NEWS Hays Free Press December 18, 2013 Austin buys Hays County land to halt development over aquifer BY MIKE KANIN From the InFact Daily Austin City Council members Thurs- day.unanimously approved the $18 mil- lion acquisition of land i'n Hays County that might otherwise have been devel- oped as the Jeremiah Ventures project. With the move, council members elimi- nated a!ong-running fight over grandfa- thering rules, enviro.nmental protections and the regulatory reach of city govern- ment. Though this specific issue appears set- tied, Austin council members Thursday also postponed action on a new iteration of grandfathering rules. Known as the Vested Rights Ordinance, the measure would take the place of the city's former Project Duration Ordinance - a docu- ment that council members repealed this year after intense legal and legisla- tive pressure. The delay means that the larger issue will not be settled before January. City staffers are reportedly in negotiations with the Real Estate Council of Austin over specifics. The Ieremiah Ventures project would have created a development over the Barton Springs recharge zone of the Ed- wards Aquifer. Long-debated, the project raised the hackles of environmental in- terests over its treatment of sewage and its general location in a sensitive region. Jeremiah Ventures spent about six years trying to break ground on a residential subdivision with plans for 1,400 homes and a wastewater treatment facility that could process 330,000 gallons a day. Under a modified offer, proposed by ]eremiahVentures after several local gov- ernment entities filed a lawsuit to block the development, Austin City Council approved in August the development of 1,000 homes and up to 270,000 gallons of effluent water daily, leaving the Save Our Springs Alliance (SOS) more or less alone in pursuit of legal action to block any development. The Austin City Council's recent deci- sion to instead purchase the land from ]eremiah Ventures alleviated SOS con- Earns. In addition to preservation of critical environmental features, the city's pur- chase will reserve water rights associat- ed with the tract for five years. As late as Thursday morning, that figure rested at only three years. With council member Chris Riley pushing Austin city staff to extend the rights to four years, owners' Jeremiah Venture tract in Hays County, courtesy of the City of Austin representative Nikelle Meade of Husch Blackwell told council members that her clients would extend those protections to the full term. SOS Executive Director Bill Bunch told the Austin City Council he welcomed the agreement. "Buying this land for watershed pro- tection is really the ideal outcome for this seven-acre struggle that we've been in," he said. "We're very happy to see this on your agenda (and) we strongly sup- port buying it at a fair price." Bunch then questioned the figure tied to the deal. City staff told council mem- bers, on prompting, that the property was appraised at $18.3 million, $300,000 less than what the city paid. This story was reprinted under an agreement between the Hays Free Press and InFact Daily. PHOTOS BY KIM HILSIBECK Dog-gone time at Budafest Despite the weather-relatedi delay of Budafest, those who attended this past weekend seemed to have a grand old time. Dogs, kids and horses in the annual parade [down Main St. kicked off the event. Adult Haircut m m m m $6.95 Child Haircut I tonER. com 'v !i i :6  ; ! BE SEEN. Hold your place in line and reduce your wait time in the Emergency Room to 1 5 minutes or less. Seton Medical Center Hays 6001 Kyle Parkway Kyle, TX 78640 512-504-5000 is for minor emergencies only If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or dial 9- I- 1. Powered by l/cker;mm. T