Open Letter to Mayor Pro Tem Cole

Dear Mayor Pro Tem Cole,

As two of your faithful constituents, we believe that you have not been made aware of potential damage to the Barton Springs Pool, Barton Springs Recharge Zone and the Zilker and Barton Hills Neighborhoods.

Blue Bonnet Hills [C8-2013-0039.0A] has been issued an environmental damage waiver by the Planning Commission Staff even though the same plan that has already been denied by the City Planning Commission in another form.

Geological mapping and water chemistry studies submitted to the City Planning Commission in March, 2013 shows that a creek, currently labeled by the city as a ditch, is fed by a spring in a large limestone grotto at a fault between the Buda Limestone and Del Rio Clay adjacent to the proposed development.

Unfortunately, City staff has granted a “waiver” of environmental assessment for development along the Creek.  They will say that the waiver is justified because Creek watershed is an “Urban Watershed” but this is lacking further definition by additional city code that clearly defines the “Barton Springs Zone” to include any watershed feeding the aquifer where Barton Springs recharge occurs.

Please don’t let City Planning Staff approve a development approach along the Creek watershed that will most certainly have a detrimental impact on the aquifer (and salamander habitat) in Zilker Park, and ultimately an impact on Barton Springs and the long-term health of Barton Springs Pool.  We are asking that the Developer go back before the City Planning Commission with any revised plans.

Knowing your legacy as someone who has aggressively defended the quality of life in Austin, we are certain that you would act if these facts were brought to your attention.

Austin has been in a period of drought for many years now making the concerns around water flooding, contamination, erosion, etc. less immediate. However, this is still an extreme concern that should not be forgotten about. Recent events have demonstrated this fact.

Best Regards,

J.P. & Felicity Maxwell

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