Saturday, December 25, 2010

Airport proponents silent

Private airport proponents fall silent
By Davis McAuley
December 16, 2010

Bastrop, TX - When the Bastrop City Council met Nov. 9 it heard a presentation from developers of the proposed Central Texas Airport, planned for some 1,500 acres west of the city between the Colorado River and the intersection of FM 969 and FM 1704 south of Elgin. City officials have heard nothing from the developers since, however.

Developers, led by Austin-based Carpenter and Associates, asked for Bastrop’s consent to annex the tract to an existing water control district and for support to change state law to give the water district additional powers when Texas lawmakers meet in Austin next year. Proponents said the airport will create thousands of jobs and boost tax revenues of the Bastrop and Elgin school districts.

After hearing from the Carpenter group and a number of opponents who live in the proposed airport area, the council decided it would consider the project only on certain conditions, including a requirement that proponents pay the city’s cost to engage expert consultants to evaluate the proposals.

In an interview today Bastrop City Manager Michael Talbot said the city has heard nothing from the Carpenter airport group since the November meeting. He declined to speculate on what that silence might mean.

Under current state law, the city’s consent is required for the creation of new taxing districts in Bastrop’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which includes the proposed airport site. The Legislature, of course, could decide to revise or revoke the city’s ETJ powers in some future session.

Talbot said the city would “respond appropriately” to any such effort in the upcoming legislative session beginning in January.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The city’s responsibility

Part 2: The city’s responsibility
By Cyndi Wright
Bastrop Advertiser
December 20, 2010

Part 2 of this series examines what the City of Bastrop can do regarding regulating development, such as the proposed Central Texas Airport, inside its extra-territorial jurisdiction.

The City of Bastrop’s ETJ stretches west from the city almost to the Travis County line. That’s a lot of area for hungry developers to contemplate turning into profitable growth.

For Mayor Terry Orr, there are many things to consider when a developer comes knocking – much of it revolving around compatibility.

“Is it compatible with the area around it – as far as other businesses and residential?” he asked. “Is it compatible with federal, state, county and city regulations? And last, but not least, is it compatible with the environment?”

And another important part of the equation is getting as much input as possible from the citizens who might be impacted by the development.

“The city does not do its business in a back room,” he said. “We would have full public hearings about something of any magnitude.”

[Read More…]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The county’s responsibility

Part 1, Central Texas Airport: The county’s responsibility
By Cyndi Wright
Bastrop Advertiser
December 10, 2010

Part 2 of this series will examine the City of Bastrop’s steps in regards to the Central Texas Airport, which will exist inside the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Part 3 will present citizens voices, both pro and con, for the CTA project.

Is Bastrop County doing all it can to protect its citizens and maintain the great quality of life many people moved here for, while at the same time promoting economic development?

For some residents, especially those who currently find themselves living near the proposed Central Texas Airport in Cedar Creek, it may seem as though there are not enough steps being taken by the county to ensure not only their safety and well-being, but also the safety and well-being of the environment.

[Read More…]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Public forum brouhaha

On April 13, 2009, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court granted Jim Carpenter an opportunity to present information about the proposed Central Texas Airport and possible legislation to create a Municipal Utility District (MUD) to support the project.

The County and City of Bastrop had been aware of the project for several months but the public had been kept out of the loop until just prior to the meeting. The citizens of Bastrop County were not pleased and many attended the SRO event.

At that presentation, someone from the audience asked the Court if citizens would have an opportunity to express their concerns publicly at a later time. The judge hemmed and hawed and conferred with Commissioner Dildy and when pressed, blurted YES, there would be an opportunity to do that.

Now fast forward to 2010. In June just over a year after that presentation, the Commissioners entered into a 381 Agreement with Jim Carpenter which included a 75% 30 year tax rebate for the airport. The good citizens of the County were never offered the opportunity to express their concerns about the deal in a public meeting as promised by the Judge.

However, demand for a public meeting has continued during the citizen’s comment period at the Commissioners Court sessions. On November 22, the demand prompted an impromptu hallway meeting with the Judge. He tried to explain that he MEANT that the meeting was for the MUD though MUD was not referenced in proximity to his 2009 promise. His fancy semantic two-step around the issue just doesn’t ring true in light of the recording of the presentation.

So the Judge didn’t keep his word and the 381 is a done deal. Do politicians ever keep their word? If the citizens who attended Carpenter’s presentation had pressured the Court immediately following that presentation, things might have been different. But they didn’t and now that ship has sailed. Let’s get over it, move on and not let another opportunity slip by.

The Bastrop Advertiser report of this Court session was never published online but you can see a scan of it here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

City Council says no

The Bastrop City Council voted a resolution of non-support for Carpenter’s legislative efforts in 2009 the day after his big presentation at the Commissioners Court. Davis McAuley covered this too.

Bastrop City Council says no to private airport proposal
By Davis McAuley
April 14th, 2009

Bastrop, Tx–Austin developer James Carpenter won no Bastrop City Council support Tuesday for his plan to develop a 2,000-acre site west of town for a private general aviation airport and plots for related businesses. In fact the council instructed the city manager to prepare a resolution of non-support for the project, which will be forwarded to the state senator and state representative whose districts include Bastrop County.

The state lawmakers previously indicated they will not support creation of a special municipal utility district for the proposed airport without the endorsement of the city council and county commissioners. That suggests the council’s action Tuesday could doom the project, at least for the current legislative session.

Monday the Bastrop County commissioners held a hearing on the same topic but postponed any action on the issue, pending further public input which has been largely unfavorable so far.

Council Member Dock Jackson said the council action Tuesday came because of too little available information about the airport plan. Other council members voiced similar concerns both before and after a presentation by Carpenter about what he called a “massive economic development project” which could create thousands of well-paid jobs.

“There’s a lot more we need to learn,” said Council Member Julie Hart.

There’s likely too little time left during the present legislative session to work through the complex issues presented by the Carpenter proposal, said Council Member Joe Beal. “We’re hearing this for the first time (tonight),” Beal said Tuesday.

By state law the Legislature will adjourn at the end of May.


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