After a nearly three-hour discussion from residents, staff and officials, Bee Cave City Council approved amendments on zoning and development standards for a roughly 35-acre planned development district called The Backyard. The development in west Bee Cave will contain, among several other features, a high-capacity entertainment venue.

Approval of the amendments came during council’s May 26 meeting and follows an April 7 recommendation to adopt the changes from the Bee Cave Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Backyard will be located between Bee Cave Parkway and Hwy. 71, just west of RM 620 and Bee Cave Central Park.

Council’s last amendment to the PDD came in March 2019 and included the removal of three planned data centers and a distributed energy center, which were planned to be replaced with office, restaurant, brewery and distillery uses.

That amendment came more than a year after the former developer of The Backyard filed a lawsuit against the city of Bee Cave and three of its officials. City leaders and the developer took steps in January to end the litigation process through approval of an infrastructure-centered site plan.

Information from the city states the most recent version of the approved project included an outdoor event venue, a 125‐room hotel with an exhibit hall and meeting space, offices, parking garages and a hilltop garden.

The changes council for the development during the May 26 meeting include renaming the project’s music venue to an event venue, increasing that venue’s maximum capacity to 3,700 from 3,410 and allowing a maximum noise level of 75 decibels within a 5,000-foot radius of the venue.

The new PDD agreement states Willie Way, a planned road connecting to Bee Cave Parkway that will run through The Backyard, will become a public road. Excluding the event venue, the development will also be compliant with 2015 International Dark Sky Community Guidelines through the new agreement.

With regard to parking, the new agreement allows for satellite services to be connected to the development via a shuttle service, which city staff stated “mitigates potential increased traffic” during peak attendance times.

Changes also include replacing what was going to be a single large restaurant space with a food, beverage and retail village integrated into the design of the event venue that will provide a more continuous array of options for the community at large, according to city information.

The approved amendment broadens the timeline for completion of the development to three to seven years.

During public comment on the agenda item, complaints were levied against the development about parking, lighting, noise and access to The Backyard.

Bee Cave resident Carrell Killebrew said problems he has with the development involve parking issues, lighting and noise levels described within the new proposed agreement. In one example, he said the allowance for 75 decibels within a 5,000-foot radius of the venue in actuality amounts to greater noise than is presented by city staff.

But later in the meetings, project leaders brought in an expert sound technician who made a case to council that due to a reduced crowd capacity of under 4,000 people in the event venue coupled with better sound technology, noise pollution should not be a difficult issue for operators of The Backyard to contain.

Adrian Overstreet, the owner of Bee Cave Sonesta Austin Hotel who also owns what is called the Target tract of land north of the proposed development, said parking will likely bleed into his properties and wants those issues addressed before the amendment is agreed to by city officials.

"My main and only concern with this development is parking," Overstreet said. "Right now, they've got a system where they say 'trust us, we're going to get some more off-site parking."

Two other property owners who own land bordering the proposed development, Jeff Kent and the Skaggs Family Partnership, also protested the latest amendment request, with Kent stating he wanted council to vote "no" on the amendments until a more solid agreement is reached with regard to more parking and connectivity to the project.

Former Bee Cave Mayor Monty Parker, who throughout 2018 and into 2019 was instrumental in helping broker one of the most recent development agreements between the city of Bee Cave and The Backyard, offered an endorsement of the proposed amendment.

"This is a project that other cities would enthusiastically pursue if given the chance," Parker said during the May 26 meeting. "I strongly encourage you to vote 'yes,' and let's get this show on the road."

Developers for the project said that due to concerns raised by Bee Cave residents, both at the council meeting and numerous town hall events, they wanted to request expediting construction of a parking structure labeled Garage P2, initially not required to be built until the third phase of construction, to be constructed at the same time the event venue will be built.

During extended discussion of the proposed amendments, city Planning and Development Director Lindsey Oskoui emphasized the new agreement also requires The Backyard operators to routinely update emergency management plans, labeled as Standard Operating Procedures, with the city and fire department.

Some conditions were attached to council's final vote to approve the proposed amendments, including updating timing of Garage P2 to phase two of construction.


Article published by Community Impact. 

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