New Braunfels Outer Loop

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dbianq
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:05 am

New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by dbianq » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:38 am

I would like to know if Trout Unlimited is aware of the Comal County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan? I do not think this plan is getting the public notice that it should. They have filed a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS; announcement of public scoping meeting; request for public comment, http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/2008/E8-24570.html. I have not seen any of this publized so I was not aware it was going on until recently. The Comal RHCP website, http://www.co.comal.tx.us/comalrhcp/default.htm. Your post under the NB Outer Loop topic states,"Land is to be purchased, then when construction is set to begin, there may not be any comprehensive environmental impact studies depending on the source of the funding. If the Loop becomes a privatized tollway with no federal dollars, there may not be any environmental study at all." Based on their website and the filed actions, it looks like the RHCP will have a final EIS by January 2010, the final draft is already posted, http://www.co.comal.tx.us/comalrhcp/map ... s_docs.htm, but no one seems to be aware of it...? What I would like to know is, can this EIS help us prevent the NB Outer Loop?

cobbhop
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2005 12:43 pm

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by cobbhop » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:38 pm

Sorry for the delay in resonding. I just noticed your post this weekend. GRTU is aware of Comal County's Regional Habitat Conservation Plan. Unfortunately this plan will do little to prevent the Outer Loop thoroughfare. In fact, this plan may be used to expedite the construction of the road if private finding is used. The plan does is allow Comal County establishes a prgram where defined amouts of golden cheek warbler and black capped vireo habitat can be destroyed during municipal projects, including road construction, without the need to complete the normal EIS requirements for each project. In return the county has established mitigation measures that consists of setting aside an equal acrage of suitable habitat for conservation purposes. Comal County has identified a potential need to destroy/disrupt approximately 10,000 + acres during such projects, generally termed "incidental takes". The county is required to estblish conservation acreage to develop "credits" before they can destroy/disrupt habitat on a "take" project. Our concern with this plan is that if the road is built with private finding TxDOT may be able to use this plan to address EIS requirements for construction of the loop and avoid the often rigorous requirements for federally funded roadways.

dbianq
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:05 am

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by dbianq » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:00 am

I am very frustrated. Is there anything we can do to prevent this? I recently heard that a record number of whooping cranes (23) have died this year while wintering along the Texas coast. I understand that this was due to the reduction of fresh water from the Guadalupe river. The blue crabs are their main source of protein rich food and they were not available for the Whooping Cranes because of the reduction in fresh water from the Guadalupe River. The drought along with the population growth in San Antonio and Austin have had a major impact on the outlet of fresh water. I'm sure this loop will not help. This loop will be going through our property and will take approximately 20-30 acres, plus our property will be divided. I've researched this to death and cannot find an out. If you have any suggestions or anyone else does, it would be greatly appreciated.

lhill
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:38 pm
Location: Canyon Lake

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by lhill » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:31 pm

Did you see the article in New Braunfel's Sun. paper about County Improvements for 2010, with the part below about the RHCP? It says the permit would require voluntary participation of local landowners. Does this have any bearing on the outer loop development?



Open space

Comal County Commissioners began efforts in 2006 to safeguard portions of the county’s natural landscape from future development, and Scheel said implementing Comal’s Regional Habitat Conservation Plan should be a major priority in 2010.

“We need to continue to work to keep parts of Comal County undeveloped in perpetuity,” he said.

Habitat conservation plans, in general, are tools non-federal entities can obtain under the Endangered Species Act used to minimize the potential impact of land development on endangered wildlife.

Primarily, the local plan would set aside habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo — two endangered bird species whose territory includes more than 65,000 acres in Comal County.

If approved by the federal government, the Comal County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan would have the county implement conservation measures in exchange for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That permit would allow the county to regulate limited development of the protected land with the voluntary participation of local landowners. The plan has yet to be officially approved, but the county has already begun setting aside significant portions of land.

County Commissioners authorized the purchase of the Morton Tract near the third crossing on River Road in March 2008.

The nearly 300 acres of land will be safe from future development.
Larry

"None of us ever dies if the deeds we've done continue to do good in a world where trout still swim." Dave Hughes

dbianq
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:05 am

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by dbianq » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:17 pm

Yes, I did see the Sunday paper. I work for an Environmental and Engineering company and we have contracts that involve EPA, NEPA, etc., etc. I have checked into donating our property to a conservation plan and found that it will not prevent our land from being taken. What will happen is the conservation plan will receive credits for the acres developed. I also "unofficially" consulted with an Environmental Lawyer concerning a conservation plan and he said,"I could do it if it would do any good. But the general answer is that a conservation does not prevent an eminent domain taking of the property for a fair price. There are numerous other expensive alternatives that don't generally do anything but delay the process and are sometimes helpful in coercing the agency/whomever into avoiding one's property. If the project has federal money, NEPA applies and all the necessary studies and evaluations must be performed. She needs some good warbler habitat." In the RHCP plan, table 3-2, we fall under tract 3109, >80% woodland, 1264 acres impacted so I do have good warbler habitat but do not have the funds to hire a lawyer. There is also the possibility that the highway will not be federally funded, if that's the case, NEPA will not apply.

dbianq
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:05 am

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by dbianq » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:27 am

County Commissioners Eccleston and Kennady to attend a Community Information Event
regarding Section B of the Proposed New Braunfels Outer Loop

Everyone is invited to attend – Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 6:30 PM

Community Resource and Recreation Center (CRRC) of Canyon Lake 1917 FM 2673 in Sattler, Texas

On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, Precinct 1 County Commissioner, Donna Eccleston, and Precinct 4, County Commissioner, Jan Kennady will attend a meeting regarding Section B of the proposed New Braunfels Outer Loop (NBOL) which includes the Guadalupe River and River Road. Both Precincts 1 and 4 will be greatly impacted by this proposal if it is approved.

In particular, Section B has been the subject of much debate and controversy for the past several years. Many residents and visitors to Comal County are concerned about the impact this proposal may have on the Guadalupe River and River Road as well as ranches and homes.

Don’t miss this opportunity to express your questions and concerns regarding this proposal.

This event is sponsored by the Guadalupe River Road Alliance and Texas Rivers Protection Association.

For additional information e-mail info@save-river-road.net.

Please help us spread the word! Print the attached flyer (2 per page) and distribute.

Thank you,

Guadalupe River Road Alliance

Dedicated to preserving our Texas Heritage and Natural Resources

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wiscoy
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:43 am
Location: Spring Branch, Texas

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop

Post by wiscoy » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:36 am

Well it appears that the realtors and developers will not go quitely - see link to story below

http://kgnb.am/news/local-realtors-vote ... sportation

We need to remain dilligent with this matter, please let NB City Council hear from you as a concerned citizen.

Wiscoy

lhill
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:38 pm
Location: Canyon Lake

Re: New Braunfels Outer Loop in New Braunfels Paper

Post by lhill » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:49 am

Parkway plan favored in presentation to NB council

Regional Transportation Plan

LAURA McKENZIE/Herald-Zeitung
Regional Transportation Plan

Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012 11:00 pm

By Greg Bowen New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung | 0 comments

NEW BRAUNFELS — The bell will ring Monday for another round in the Outer Loop vs. Parkway Plan fight.

New Braunfels City Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday to re-open discussions on which plan should be included in the New Braunfels/Seguin Area Regional Transportation Plan, as well as the 2011 Thoroughfare Plan being developed as part of an effort to create a new metropolitan planning organization (MPO), for the New Braunfels/Seguin area.

Monday’s meeting will be at New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center, 375 S. Castell Ave.

“We’re going to recommend the parkway plan,” City Planning Director Shannon Mattingly said Friday.

But council will be presented with an in-depth analysis of both options, she said.

“Our objective is to provide the council with the best factual information we can,” Mattingly said. “They have the tough job of making the final decision.”

The issue last came before council on Nov. 28, when more than 20 residents paraded to the podium to tell the council’s members about their preferences in the Outer Loop vs. Parkway Plan debate.

In the end, council decided more study was needed before a final vote could be made. In the intervening weeks, city staffers have been compiling information for that study and developing the analyses that will be presented Monday.

Analyses have been done on the numbers of properties involved in each plan and population-growth projections. Staffers have also had discussions with local groups and neighboring cities that have expressed concerns.

Although the agenda calls for no formal council decision on Monday, Mattingly said she’s hoping council will recommend how to move forward so a choice can officially be made at council’s Feb. 27 meeting.

Planners are hoping MPO-related documents can be completed in time to be included in a March petition to Gov. Rick Perry, who will be asked to approve the creation of the new MPO.

The growing New Braunfels/Seguin area is required under federal law to form an MPO of its own, or join the San Antonio MPO to receive funding for highway projects. Having a local MPO would allow this area’s road projects to get top billing, officials say.

Outer Loop vs. Parkway

The Outer Loop, in several different versions, has been in discussion for more than a decade. One preliminary version of it is included in the city’s current Thoroughfare Plan. But another preliminary version, developed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), would probably be used should the Outer Loop ever be built.

The TxDOT Outer Loop is envisioned as an I-35-style, six-lane expressway encircling the city.

However last year, the Outer Loop was replaced by the Parkway Plan by staffers and consultants drafting the Regional Transportation Plan, which includes an update of the city’s Thoroughfare Plan, after opponents to the Outer Loop made their concerns known during public hearings.

The Parkway Plan was chosen as a more environmentally friendly, narrower, lower-speed parkway that would enclose the city on just three sides. Under that plan, the area west of New Braunfels, between Texas Highway 46 and Farm-to-Market Road 306, would remain free of the pavement proposed under the Outer Loop plan.

Mattingly said the Hill Country area presents builders with environmental concerns regarding the Edwards Aquifer and the Guadalupe River. It also presents expensive difficulties and limitations for developers, including steep, tough topography that creates problems with the installation of water and sewer lines and other utilities, she said.

The section of roadway proposed there under the Outer Loop plan isn’t needed to move traffic, she said.

While some have raised concerns about the Parkway Plan’s gap on the west side, Mattingly said improvements of existing thoroughfares — including FM 306 and Highway 46 — will allow them to carry more traffic.

For the Parkway Plan

Opposition groups have railed against the Outer Loop since the beginning.

A leading opponent has been Dr. Martin Levett, who has spent the last five years speaking out against the plan as a member of Citizens’ Alliance for Smart Expansion (CASE). Levett can go on for a good half-hour without repeating himself when asked why he opposes the Outer Loop.

Levett and CASE contend that the Outer Loop would affect some 300 properties including farms, ranches and almost 30 homes; that it would cross the environmentally-sensitive Edwards Aquifer with impervious cover and would require the leveling of Guadalupe River bluffs for the construction of a big Interstate 35-type bridge over the river at scenic River Road.

They also say the loop would act as part of a bypass around San Antonio that would funnel 18-wheelers and other traffic along Highway 46 — from I-10 west at Boerne through New Braunfels, and on to I-10 east at Seguin.

Having I-10 traffic from Los Angeles to Florida bypass San Antonio would help the Alamo City stay below federal ozone pollution standards, Levett said, but pollution would correspondingly increase in New Braunfels.

Levett said Wednesday that the Parkway Plan is the better choice.

“It meets all of the city’s transportation needs without the destruction of the Outer Loop,” he said. “It’s smaller and more fitting.”

With the Parkway Plan, he said, you wouldn’t get “strip malls and big-box stores” as you would along the Outer Loop. Nor would you get the air, water, noise and light pollution. Levett said the Parkway Plan would use existing rights-of-way, while the Outer Loop would be “100 percent new road.”

While the Parkway Plan may affect more properties, he said, it wouldn’t cut through their owners’ lands, only claim road easements already set aside on their properties.

Levett said having the Outer Loop in the transportation plan causes problems for landowners who want to replat their property to pass it on to sons or daughters, or to sell it. He said a replat requires the Outer Loop’s 800-foot-wide footprint to be outlined on documents as an area set aside for future development. That scares away potential buyers and drives down property values, Levett said.

He also said the Outer Loop was originally conceived as a toll road and “can be tolled in the future. They can never toll the parkway.”

Additionally, Levett charged that state officials overlooked environmental issues, such as the likelihood of increased flooding, when they made a study of the Outer Loop.



For the Outer Loop

One of those who spoke out against the Parkway Plan at November’s council meeting was Holley Guenther VanderVorste, whose family lives on acreage on Engel Road, which would be enlarged under the Parkway Plan.

On Wednesday, VanderVorste, a retired teacher, talked again about her opposition. She said a parkway would increase the typically light traffic in her rural area.

“We just don’t need all that,” she said.

The parkway would also claim property needed for the success of many existing long-time farms and businesses.

“It would take my entire house,” said VanderVorste, whose family operates a business on site that provides rides for fairs and stock shows across the country. “We’re close to the road ... We have people working constantly out here. It would just ruin us.”

She said her neighbor’s home and farm would be devastated as well.

“It’d be right by his living room.”

A glance at the proposed Parkway Plan map shows that, like the Outer Loop, it would provide a way for truck traffic along I-10 to skirt San Antonio via Highway 46 from Boerne to New Braunfels to Seguin.

The Parkway Plan also includes a proposed section not in the Outer Loop plan that would move traffic from northeastern New Braunfels to the new State Highway 130 toll road now under construction between I-35 and I-10 east of Seguin.

Also favoring the Outer Loop is the board of the New Braunfels Canyon Lake Association of Realtors, which voted Thursday to support including the TxDOT Outer Loop in the transportation plan.

“We feel like this plan has had much more time and money spent on due diligence and has produced a more feasible plan than the current Parkway Plan,” said John Seidel, president of the association. “We are not against the Parkway Plan per se, we just feel like there has not been enough homework done on it to throw out a plan that has been well studied.”

© 2012 Herald-Zeitung Online. All rights reserved
Larry

"None of us ever dies if the deeds we've done continue to do good in a world where trout still swim." Dave Hughes

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