2017-07-14 / Front Page

Subdivision plat decision delayed

BY DAVID LOWE
DISPATCH RECORD

Amid questions about fire hydrants and a proposed cul-de-sac, the Lampasas City Council chose Monday to take more time before deciding whether to approve a final plat for a subdivision off FM 580 West.

Spring Creek Construction owner Ron Farr is seeking approval of the final plat of Hillside Subdivision -- where he proposes to develop 12 lots. The subdivision is planned on about 37 acres not far outside the city limits, on the north side of FM 580.

The proposal calls for city electric and water service, but not sewer service, in the subdivision. The lots -- planned to range from 1.5 acres to 6.33 acres -- will be served by septic systems. Farr told the council he anticipates the development will be annexed into the city.

One of the major issues the council discussed Monday was the cul-de-sac -- proposed to be more than 800 feet long. Mayor Misti Talbert and Councilman Robert McCauley said the cul-de-sac would exceed the 600-foot limit set by the city's subdivision ordinance. It also would be longer than the 750- foot limit set by the fire code, although Fire Chief Reece Oestreich said the 600-foot standard established by the ordinance supersedes the limit in the fire code.

McCauley said he wants to enforce the 600-foot limit. He said if the council allows a cul-de-sac longer than that -- in a subdivision expected to be annexed -- people who develop properties elsewhere in the city also could try to install dead-end streets longer than the limit set by the ordinance.

"My problem is, sooner or later, this is going to become part of the city, and if you have a cul-de-sac at this length [more than 800 feet], somebody's going to want the same thing," McCauley said.

Councilman Mike White said he would not mind a 750-foot cul-de-sac. He did say, however, the city should require the three fire hydrants that fire officials have recommended be installed in the subdivision.

Mrs. Talbert also said she wants to follow the fire department's recommendation about hydrants.

Fire officials suggested two hydrants 300 feet apart in the cul-de-sac, plus a third at the edge of an adjacent driveway. The hydrant at the edge of the driveway would help serve western parts of the subdivision.

Farr said his concern about the proposed third hydrant is the expense. The developer said it costs about $4,500-$5,000 to have a fire hydrant installed. Also, Farr said if the city requires the third hydrant, he will have to extend a water main 405 feet from the cul-de-sac, which would cause him to incur an additional expense.

In addition, the developer said a 3-inch-wide water line would be sufficient to serve the proposed 12-lot subdivision. City officials, however, have recommended a more expensive 6-inch line.

Fire Marshal Ronnie Withers said he needs more details about water flow. He also said the suggested fire hydrant locations resulted from just a brief discussion, without exact measurements.

Withers said he will meet with engineer Sam Walker to determine exactly how many hydrants the subdivision needs and where they should be placed.

Council members raised the possibility that the subdivision at some point could have more than 12 houses -- which they said reinforces the importance of fire protection.

Farr said he intends to develop a rural subdivision with several large lots.

While most tracts in the front of the proposed subdivision would be 2 acres or smaller, the plat shows the back three lots would range from 4.69 acres to 6.33 acres. Farr said he is trying to create a buffer between possible new houses and the property immediately north of the proposed subdivision.

Farr said when he bought the land he intends to subdivide, he made "a handshake agreement" with the seller -- who lives on a ranch directly north of the proposed subdivision -- to leave larger tracts at the back.

Farr said he intends to create deed restrictions that will keep property owners from further subdividing their acreage for about 15 years. The developer said, however, it is difficult to predict what will happen with a subdivision years in the future.

"You know, there's a lot of 'if's' that could happen," he said. "Sunrise Hills, I built it in 2003 or 2004. We're in 2017, and I still have lots available."

Other discussion Monday related to the road surface in the proposed Hillside Subdivision.

City Manager Finley deGraffenried said the subdivision is not required by ordinance to have curb and gutter.

Farr said he does not plan to install curb and gutter. He plans to create a chip-seal road, similar to what is in the Fawn Acres neighborhood off FM 580 West.

When the Planning & Zoning Commission heard the subdivision request July 6, it voted unanimously to recommend the City Council approve the final plat. P&Z recommended, however, that approval be contingent upon additional study to determine if the subdivision would have adequate water and fire protection, deGraffenried said.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to table the subdivision plat, so there will be more time for fire officials to gather information related to hydrants.

Officials plan to consider the matter again at the City Council's meeting July 24.

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