Saturday, January 12, 2019

Meetings, Meetings and More!

Well, another week has passed and the weather continues to amaze me.  Cold, wet, warm and sunny, all in one week.  We are now in the cold - wet arena, I'm tired of it.  However, I get tired of the 103 degree temps in Summer pretty quickly too.  Weather Station link.

We got .4 inch of rain last night and the temperatures hovered about 50 degrees.  I hear it's going to get a little cooler today.  

Busy week for committee meetings.  First was on Tuesday, the reconstituted Park and Recreation met at 6:30.  Here was that agenda.  

Wednesday should be called Committee Wednesday - it started with ZAPCO, here was that agenda and packet.  Lakeway Town Centre
was granted a revised preliminary plan.  This is a combination of the development where CVS and Flores is, and the development where Wendy's is and properties West of both.  The plan was combined to pool the impervious cover to allow future use of some of the property.  Revision was granted unanimously.

A Re-Plat was granted to 15502 S. Flamingo Drive to create two 1 acre commercial lots.  Approved.

A Short Term Rental SUP was granted to 4 Casa Verde, item 7.  

Item 8 was postponed, it was a request for a SUP for a permit to operate a food vending business at World of Tennis.

Item 9 was a request from Travis County to re-zone the 70 acres West of Bee Creek Rd. from AG to P1 (Park) for the development of the Public Sports Complex.  Approved unanimously.

Item 10 re-zoned 30 acres on the South side of the previous property to Commercial.

Item 11 was a sign request from the project that is just North of Flintrock Road at 620 - they are moving dirt there.  They were looking for significantly larger signs for leasing and the building than is allowed.

Signs for the building and monument were approved, leasing signs were not approved.

Item 12 appointed Carolyn Nichols as a Comprehensive Plan Committee member to replace Dave Taylor.  Approved unanimously.
The Board of Adjustment met at 3 PM.  

Item 2 was a height variance for the Serene Hills Independent Living at 5099 Bee Creek Rd.  The board granted 40 feet because of the challenges of the property elevations.

Item 3 was a variance requesting increased square footage for the project.  Currently ordinance restricts commercial space to 100,000 sq. feet.  This ordinance was implemented to keep "big box" stores out of Lakeway after Walmart wanted to build a store on 620.  Since that time several projects for Senior Living projects have been granted allowances for their projects to exceed 100,000 sq feet.  This item required a super majority (6 out of 7) and was voted down - 5 in favor and 2 against.  The requester came back and lowered the requirement from 200K to 190K.  The Board again went into executive session - I don't know for sure, but I assume the attorney told them if they denied this since others were allowed the city would be at risk of lawsuit.  The committee returned and again voted to deny this request, 5-2.

Item 4 was a request from a homeowner to overturn a City Building Commission ruling that denied a requested height for an addition because of view blocking.  The Board punted and sent it back to CBC for further discussion.
Next the Engagement Committee met at 6:30 - here was their agenda.  I'll try to find out what happened this week.
Thursday the Wildlife Advisory Committee met.  Here was their agenda.  This was a work session and the committee was given a presentation on allowable options.  There will be another work session to finish the presentations.
Busy week for meetings!  From the court docket, it looks like Kilgore 2 went to court Wednesday.  I guess we will hear the results when the judge rules.

The Sundancer re-opened Thursday after the flood.  Glad to see it's back, go by and patronize our friends - it's down near the end of Stewart Rd. - they have great food and drinks!

Glad you're reading the blog!  Let me know if you have questions or suggestions.  If you want to be added (or removed) from the email list, send a note to and I'll take care of it.

Joe Bain

Friday, January 4, 2019

Weather, ZAPCO, Regional Recycle Center Date and Pictures!

It's Friday and time for an update on the weather.  A total of 2.5 inches at the 15th Tee on Live Oak Golf course.  The temperatures weren't too great either.  New Years Day, high 43, low 37, Jan. 2nd., high 38, low 34.  It's looking better today and for the weekend.

ZAPCO coming up on Wednesday, here's the agenda.  Not a real big day for them - item 5 is a revision to the Preliminary Plan for Lakeway Towne Centre.  This is the area East of the Police Station and is currently permitted for a storage / office building.  I believe it will be going to just office - hoping for a restaurant!  Beautiful lot with clear water lake.

Item 6 is a re-plat on Flamingo Dr.  No issues.

Items 7 & 8 are SUP's for STR's (Short Term Rentals) - both in condominiums.  I see no issue with them so far and no complaints.

The rest of the items are pertaining to the land that the Sports Complex will be built on - zoning changes and one piece of the adjoining land will be re-zoned from AG to C-1 Commercial.

There is also a request for a sign variance on Flintrock Trace.
Start the New Year by dropping off your unwanted paint, cleaners, and other household hazardous waste materials at the Lake Travis Regional Re-Use and Recycling Center from 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 23.

Lots going on at the Activity Center - here's a link to that page.

New pictures are up - here's a lint to the recent photo's.  Enjoy!  Updated pictures of the Police Project, Jason's Deli is moving right along and updates to the new Medical Office Building at the Hospital.

Working on JB Hosting - if you need a website or domain hosted, give me a call.  Hosting starts at $47.95 - get you a domain for a GREAT mail id.  That's how I do "" and my email addresses.

Thanks for all the emails and questions - I try to answer all I can.  If you want to be added to my email list, send a note to and I'll get you added.

Happy New Year!

Joe Bain

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Weather and Traffic + A Solution?

Happy New Year!  I hope you all have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and New Year Holiday!  I wish you an enjoyable and prosperous New Year.  Now we have to start writing 2019 on our checks....

Well, we've had interesting weather for the last week / month of the year.  the last large rain event brought us about 2.8 inches.  .2 inches yesterday.  We had a total of 6.05 inches for the month of December.  Temperatures are interesting too.  For December we had a high of 87.3 and a low of 30.4.  

Rain and cold for the next few days.  35 degrees at Live Oak's 15th tee.  About .91 inch of rain so far since midnight.  Don't forget, here is a link to my weather station.  It's available 24/7.  And as a New Year's present, the Texas Longhorns won the Sugar Bowl with a score of 28-21.  Great way to start the New Year!

Lot's of talk about traffic issues.  There are really two issues we are facing.  Internal and external traffic.  Internally it would have been nice to have a road from Lohmans to the Oaks.  It can still happen, but will most likely require city money.  Lakeway historically has not spent money on new roads, they have negotiated with developers to provide new infrastructure.  That was the case with the MUD property until negotiations were cut off when the original project there was denied and negotiations were stopped by ZAPCO.

Now that project is moving forward with another direction.  Instead of a 4 lane blvd. crossing the property, the developer is suggesting a 2 lane access to his development with ROW furnished if the city would like to make it wider.  I'm unsure of the plan for the second road crossing the property near the library.  This will be a significant expense for the city - my guess is at least $5M, probably more.  This also does not take into account that the road will end at the Stratus property - the developers agreement with them requires the road be built only when they start development.  This part requires a bridge - about $2M+.  

That being said, this would have some impact on the external issues.  That impact would be the local traffic that could access the Oaks internally - It would relieve that traffic that is now forced to go via 620.

There are two external issues facing the city.  One of course is 620 and the other is Hwy 71.  620 is up for improvement and the design and planning process is ongoing.  This will require a $5M contribution from Lakeway and Bee Cave.  The total cost of the project is between $70-$90M and will make 620 6 lanes from Hwy 71 to Oak Knoll with a median.  Most of this project is being funded by TxDOT and CAMPO.

The real issue is the amount of traffic!  620 was designed for about 20,000 cars a day and now is handling about 50-60K cars a day.  This number is increasing continuously.  Hwy 71 is in about the same predicament.  Although I don't have data, my guess is it was designed for 30-40K cars per day and is handling 50-70K cars per day.  

These external issues are mostly caused by lack of planning by Travis County.  Their plan was to not increase the roads so people would not move into the Hill Country.  That didn't work.

So, what the solution.  I have one, but it's not real popular with Travis County.  The solution is connecting the "Loop".  You know, we have "Loop 1", you can go North on it and then turn around and go South on the same route.  We also have "Loop 360" that is really a blvd.  

I'm talking about a REAL loop.  This would connect at 45 on the North side of town where it ends near Lakeline Mall.  It would eventually go Southwest and cross the "Preserve" that is just East of Lakeway and continue to eventually connect to 45 again.  Some of the South part has already been built.

When I was on the CAMPO Board, I actually had this on the illustrative plan a few years ago.  Here is a link to an article by the Four Points News.  The environmentalists don't like this and fought to have it removed.  They succeeded but it would still be a good plan.  We need to work hard to get the plan reinstated.  Damage to the environment would be minimal with an elevated road across the "Preserve" and it would take much of the load off 620, Hwy 71 and 360.

There's NO other plan.  The improvements to 620 and 360 will help but will be overwhelmed within years.  We need a new route.  The longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will be.  The environmentalists have no concern for the people injured and killed in the traffic fiasco we are all living.  

Give this some thought - what do you think?  Do we need a long term solution or just a temporary patch.  

Thanks for the support!  Let's work together for a solution.  I'll have more about what's coming up in Lakeway later in the week.

If you have a pet, be sure to consider Lakeway Vet on 620, they are GREAT folks and really care.  They are part of our community and work hard to make our animals happy and healthy - open 24 hours a day.  There's a link at the top right if your using a PC.

I've completed my eye surgery with Dr. Rhodes and Lake Travis Eye and Laser center.  What a wonderful experience.  Both Dr. Rhodes and staff were outstanding.  This was probably the best professional experience I have ever had.  If you need an Ophthalmologist, please consider Dr. Rhodes and Lake Travis Eye and Laser Center.  They're the best!

In case your interested in getting a website or even a domain for an email address, I do low priced hosting.  For a simple site it costs less than $50 a year and I have space available on my servers.  Send me a note or call.  512-970-1041

That's all for today.  More as the weather progresses - hopefully no ice.  Have a GREAT New Year!  If you want to be added to my blog, send a note to and I'll get you added.  Questions are welcome, and I'll try to get the right info.

Joe Bain
Sky Pictures 
JB Hosting

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

CBC, Wildlife Advisory, Police Project, Traffic and Much More!

Our weather is interesting isn't it?  Cold, warm, wet, dry and now a little fog.  Be careful out there, slow down and live.  A significant portion of the traffic issues we have could be greatly improved with a little patience and common sense.

CBC met in regular session on Thursday.  Here is that agenda.  All items were approved without fanfare.  Item 5, view blocking at 816 Mariner was approved with one dissenting vote (found NOT view blocking).

The Wildlife Advisory Committee met on Thursday also.  There are some ideas to help deer, signs, deer reflectors?, reduction of speed limits and there was a discussion on feeding the deer.  

The problem is we have too many deer in Lakeway.  Another spotlight survey was presented to the committee - it shows and estimate of 1350 deer in Lakeway.  The survey only looks at areas that are not good habitat.  That tells me there are more than they estimate.  There are too many deer for the environment to support.  The herd increases by about 30-35% per year.  It's not if but when someone will be severely injured or killed because of an auto accident or even possibly an attack.  

I personally counted 24 deer in front yards as I drove on Vanguard from Zephyr to New Lido.  There were 10 in my back yard.  This is not natural and is not healthy for the deer population.   We need to find a method to  manage the herd.

Looking North
Looking East
The Police Station Project is moving right along.  On time and on budget.  Looks pretty good doesn't it?  Should open Feb-Mar.   Double click the images to see a larger picture. 

City Council had a work session yesterday on traffic and what the city can do about it.  Interesting discussion.  Discussed the upcoming 620 project and time schedule.  There will be more public meetings on this as the design and schedule firm up.

Significant discussion on a "right only" lane Southbound 620 at Lohmans.  Many comments that this was there and went away when the new lane was added.  This is incorrect - people were using the shoulder as a right turn only, this was not a lane - when the new lane went in, there was no room for that same shoulder because of right of way restrictions.

Discussion of PID's (Public Improvement Districts) and TIRZ's (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone).  These are two different methods of financing infrastructure - basically council is now looking at ways to finance a $10M road to cross the MUD property to obtain access to the Oaks.  It's a shame negotiations were cut off with the developer - he was willing to pay for the road.

Both of these options are problematic.  One forms a taxing district (PID) that the residents of that district pay an assessment on an annual basis to pay for these improvements.  The commercial and residential entities of that district (MUD property development) would pay whatever bond was issued to build a road that the rest of the city residents use for free.

A TIRZ gets revenue on the improvements of the property according to the portion of the tax rate contributed by the city.  This is problematic because of our LOW tax rate.  It also is only available after the improvements are done.  It would be more advantageous if another taxing entity was included, the county for instance, which is what the developer was working on.

Also driving the level of complexity is the land has multiple land owners.  Stratus (developer of the Oaks) owns a piece and is required to build a road across their property when and if they decide to develop it.  As a taxpayer, I don't want to spend $2M to build a road for a developer, increasing their property values and profits.  Their are other owners too, all ow which would benefit from a new road and access.  It's complex!

CAMPO's Executive Director, Ashby Johnson, gave a report on their work.  The growth rate in our area (7 counties) is about 2.8% per year.  this will put the area to about 4M by 2045.  Lots of talk, no roads, maybe bridges or ferry's?, mass transit (buses) to help area traffic.  The area arterial study is ongoing.  I think the best idea is a road across the preserve east of Lakeway, but the environmentalists won't allow that.  All current thoughts would significantly change Lakeway.

All these discussions were at a very high level with issues that will be very hard to find a consensus on.  TxDOT has been very helpful on our issues - remember, they serve the whole state and there is a lot to it.

If you want to see the long version, here is a link.
City Council met in regular session after the work session.  I'll hit the high spots of that meeting - it went past 11PM.  Here is  a link to the meeting agenda and packet.

The City seems to be in good financial shape per the Financial Report given by Julie Oakley.

Per the new BDS Director, there will be multiple avenues to give notice of any doings in the Department - including email lists, signs and notice.  Starts in January.

Chief Radford talked about speeding and basically said it's not so much the speed but the distractions.  They are looking at putting up signs on Lakeway Blvd. that show your speed.

One of the big items on the council agenda was a presentation on adding an "overlay" ESD in addition to the current existing ESD.  The law caps the tax rate for the existing ESD so they are wanting to establish an overlay that would allow an additional $.10 per $100 value.  That is a significant increase.  It would affect parts of Rough Hollow and voters would have a chance to approve or disprove it.

The solicitor ordinance is being amended to remove restrictions for political and religious solicitation.  Put a sign on your door....

The new sign ordinance was adopted with a minor change grandfathering flagpoles.

Swim Center pool improvements were approved.

At about 10:40 PM council reconsidered payment to the mayor for legal expenses.  Two of the council members wanted to rescind the resolution to pay the mayors expense - the motion failed.  Laurie Higginbotham, Louis Mastrangelo and Steve Smith voted to rescind, Bridge Bertram, Ron Massa and Keith Trecker voted against.

If you want to watch the LONG version, here is a link to the video.

Thanks for reading the blog.  I have added pictures of the police project on the Sky Pictures website - here's a link.  Watch as it goes through pictures from start until today.

That's all for now - if you want to be added to my email list send a note to and I'll get you added.

Thanks for the support!  Questions are usually answered!

Joe Bain

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Weather, ZAPCO, Traffic and More!

Welcome to Winter!  Well, not yet actually - Winter officially starts at 4:23 PM on December 21...  We got all our December rain in 3 days.  I measured 2.48 inches total for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Big day was Friday with 2.11 inches.  Been good fireplace weather though - and the clouds are gone today!  Enjoy!

ZAPCO met in regular session on Wednesday, December 5.  Here is the meeting packet.  

Item 5 was postponed to January 9, after some confusion and discussion.  This property is the property East of the Police Facility and currently is slated for a storage / office facility.  The owner appears to want to modify that plan - we shall see in January.

Item 6 was passed unanimously.

Item 7 was a variance requested allowing increased cut and fill allowances and was approved unanimously.  This is the property at Bee Creek Road and Hwy. 71.

8-9 were variance request for a commercial lot at 15301 Pheasant Lane.  This is a woodworking shop on a .3 acre lot next to Whitacres Body Shop.  Variances were granted to allow fewer parking spaces and reducing the driveway restrictions.  This looks like a good business for this commercial lot, my only reservations are what will happen if the property is sold in the future.

Item 10 was a sign variance for the new La Quinta at The Oaks.  A variance was granted for the main sign at the top of the building but was denied for the sunburst on the side of the building. 

If you would like to see the long version here is a link to the video.
 Lot of discussion on social media about traffic and accidents both on 620 and Hwy. 71.  As far as 620, we have funds committed to improve it from Hwy 17 to just North of the Lakeway city limits.  It is and has been in the planning stages for months now.  This will widen 620 and include a median to restrict left turn actions.  I have reported the street lights that are not working at Lohmans and 620 - they are TxDOT's responsibility.  Since they are not working yet I suspect it was not just a bulb issue.  I'm really not sure if they ever worked.  I expect more information on this shortly and will post it when I get it.

Hwy. 71 has had a speed study done and is waiting on final approval to lower the limit to the Pedernales to 55 mph.  I'm told that Travis County is stepping up enforcement on this section - this is what will make a difference.  As long as drivers are going 10-20 mph above the posted speed limits lowering the limit is not effective.

A barrier is also problematic.  Provision would have to be made for "u-turns" so residences and businesses are accessible.  That would require significant increases in width that is likely not available or very expensive.

It would be wonderful if we could modify driving habits including distractions and excessive speed - these are your neighbors.  Maybe increased enforcement, signage and word of mouth could make a difference.  We've got a good start.

I was actually hit last Thursday in Austin.  Waiting to merge on 360 a car hit the car behind me and that car bumped me.  The only damage was to the license plate of the car behind me - had a perfect impression of my trailer hitch...

Lakeway Veterinary Clinic had their annual Holiday Party Saturday - what a GREAT time!  They had BBQ, bounce houses, a bunch of great raffles, live music and more.  They are a GREAT service to the community, our only 24 hour clinic for our wonderful animals.  Go by and see them!  Great folks and Dr. Doyle is the BEST!

Please be careful out there and drive safely - and try to be courteous.  Let someone in, check twice before pulling into traffic and use that lever on the left side of the steering column.  It gives the people behind (or in front) of you some idea of what you are going to do!  And put your phone down.  Let's have a happy and safe holiday season!

Thanks for reading the blog!   Don't forget to go to my website and look at the area pictures - if you haven't yet look at the Panoramas!

If you would like to be added to my email list send a note to and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain

Monday, December 3, 2018

Traffic, Roads, Awards, Pictures and More!

Traffic, traffic and more traffic!  We are certainly still growing faster than anyone expected.  One real solution to the accidents is to change driving habits.  Roads are expensive.  Right of Way is expensive and has to be acquired in order to build the expensive roads.  By the time 620 is improved to 6 lanes and a median, it will continue to be congested because of the growth in the area.

Lots of people are upset with the accidents on Hwy. 71 from Hamilton Pool Road to the Pedernales.  I have recently been told that the speed limit will be lowered to 55 mph on that stretch of road - will that help?  Not if the same folks that are driving 70-80 mph in the 60-65 mph limit sections don't change.  I've also been told that Travis County is stepping up the patrols on 71 along with the DPS. 

I'm also working on getting the street lights fixed at the corner of Lohmans and 620.  There are four lights - none working.  My contact at TxDOT is looking into it.  Thanks!

Would a barrier on 71 help?  Barriers are very problematic.  Somewhere along the way access to residences and businesses on the other side has to be provided.  A U-turn on 71 is a disaster.  They have some on the West side of San Antonio but they require great widths to be useful.

The annual Lakeway Volunteer Appreciation Dinner was held last Thursday evening at Vintage Villas Hotel and Events Center.  Three residents were honored by the city at this event along with a nice dinner.  

Courtesy April Paine
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the late George Blume Jr.  for his service to the City on many commissions, the City Council and his service to the parks in Lakeway.  The award was accepted by George's wife Faye and son George III.

Courtesy April Paine
Volunteer of the Year was presented to Mike Boston, retired Navy Pilot, for his efforts in organizing Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies for the community each year.  He works tirelessly to make our community better for all the residents.

Courtesy Devin Monk
Mike Stevenson was awarded the Unsung Hero Award for his 12 years of volunteer work at the Lakeway Activity Center, Brookdale assisted living center and local churches.  You have probably see him walking along Lohmans Crossing to and from his volunteer jobs.  

Congratulations to all of the recipients!  Our city is a better place because of your efforts.

ZAPCO meets Wednesday the 5th at 9:15 AM - here's the agenda.  The packets are not on the website so it's really hard to tell what is really happening at this meeting.

The Chase Bank is moving right along at Serene Hills and Hwy 71.  My guess is it will be open soon.  Here's a link to pictures I took today.  Scroll down a little and there are pictures of the Highland Blvd. traffic circle.  Or, here's a link to a Panorama of that area.  Use your mouse to look around or move your smartphone to see the area.

Finished up my cataract surgery last week.  What a great experience - I recommend Lake Travis Eye and Laser Center without hesitation.  Dr. Kyle Rhodes was outstanding from the initial visit to the surgery and surgery center and post op visits.  I now have 20-15 in one eye and 20-20 in the other.  This has been the best doctors association I have ever had - generally no wait in the office and everyone is striving to make your life better!  Thanks! 

That's all for right now, more as I find out.  If you would like to be added to my email list, send a note to and I'll get it done.

Thanks again for all the support and Merry Christmas to everyone this holiday season.  Drive safe and enjoy the decent weather we have had, I hear it's going to rain later in the week.

Joe Bain

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Weather, Lake, Election and More!

Looks like we missed most of the rain with this last front.  A little mist last night but nothing measurable at the 15th Tee weather station.  On the bright side, it looks like Thanksgiving Thursday will be nice.  I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving Day - we should all be thankful for our blessings!

As far as Lake Travis - it is at 681.17 this morning.  That is full + .17 feet.  All the flood gates are closed and things are getting back to normal.  

The elections are over and the results are in (unless someone files a lawsuit).  Here are the full final results.

Few more things of interest:

Lexus of Lakeway sold to the Penske Automotive Group.  It will be interesting to see what changes.  We will miss the previous owner, Vicki Roberts Howard, I hope she stays active in the Lakeway area.  Her generosity has improved the lives of many in the area.  She was a great supporter of the schools and police and much more.

The Lakeway Police Foundation is selling personalized paver / bricks in the front sidewalk of the new police facility.  The money raised goes to the foundation that benefits our police officers and their families.  It is a great organization and takes care of our fine officers - please consider buying a brick!  Here's a link to the site - thanks for your support!
Bee Cave - Did anyone else see the accident on northbound Bee Cave Parkway across from the Galleria entrance last Thursday morning?  I didn't get a picture (we were already late to an appointment), but a semi jumped the curb and took out one of those large power poles that are too close to the road.  It took out the right side of the truck and of course the pole - the cables were hanging low.  If anyone has a picture and is willing to send it to me I think it is of interest.
Sundancer Grill

Looking forward to the Sundancer opening (soon hopefully)!  They had significant damage I suspect since the water was up nearly to the top of the garage style doors.  

Sail & Ski Yacht Club Marina
The marina looks like it's getting back to normal too.  Now we need some more warm weather.  Here's a link to a 360 at the marina.  Use your mouse or finger on your phone to look around.

MOB Near Hospital - East
MOB Near Hospital - West

The Medical Office Building has iron sprouting up from the foundation.  This project is really starting to take shape.

Springhill Suites - North

Springhill Suites is also coming along.  The exterior finishes are going on now and I'm sure they are working on the interior.

I'll be taking some photos of other area projects in the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned for updates on all the area projects including but not limited to Jason's Deli and the La Quinta, the condo's on Lohmans Spur and maybe some Christmas lights.

It's the Holiday Season - Christmas Decorations are already sprouting up all over - didn't that usually happen after Thanksgiving???

Please be careful on the roads, and be kind to other drivers.  Let's help the traffic by being courteous to others!  You might be surprised how well it works.

That's all for today.  If you need photo's please let me know - visit Sky Pictures website for examples.  Don't forget the weather station at the 15th Tee for local weather too.

If you would like to be added (or removed) from my email list, send a note to and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain