Bouldin Creek residents to vote on supporting wildlife gallery permit


Bouldin Creek residents say they are uneasy about the future of the neighborhood near a wildlife gallery.

Warren Wildlife Gallery official says most additional properties purchased near the site will be rental homes.

After years of ongoing construction at the Warren Wildlife Gallery in South Austin, the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association on Tuesday night will vote on whether to support the private gallery’s application for a permit that would allow the public more access to the gallery, which displays a taxidermy collection of hundreds of mammals and birds.

The gallery’s representatives have said the permit would offer educational opportunities for students and community members, as well as promote awareness on sustainable hunting.

But some neighbors who have voiced concerns about parking, noise, property tax and traffic issues say they also are uneasy about the future of other neighborhood properties that gallery owner Rick Warren, a world-traveling outdoor sportsman, has purchased near the site.

“How are we going to maintain the fabric of the neighborhood?” said Robert Nathan, who lives near the gallery and serves on the neighborhood association’s board. “We live in fear of what’s next.”

Property representatives have said they want to work with the neighborhood and plan to give a presentation and answer questions at Tuesday’s Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association general meeting, which will start at 6:30 p.m. at the High Road on Dawson.

RELATED: South Austin wildlife gallery draws ire from Bouldin Creek residents

In addition to the 36,046-square-foot lot, which includes a home, private gallery and pool, Warren bought four neighboring Bouldin Creek properties. But, according to Stephen Rye, an urban planner hired by Warren to oversee the conditional use permit process, only one of those properties — 1409 Bouldin Ave. — is considered by the owner to be part of the main site that’s included in the proposal for a conditional use permit, which would qualify the gallery as a cultural service.

Warren acquired that property “primarily in response to concerns raised by the Bouldin Creek neighborhood about on-street parking burdens,” Rye said in an email.

The Bouldin Avenue lot will serve as a parking area “to contain all parking onsite and eliminate those burdens,” he added.

The owner plans for the parking area to be screened from neighboring residences with “high-quality natural materials, compatible and consistent with the neighborhood’s character,” Rye wrote.

But residents, including Nathan, worry that they’ll lose more neighbors like the Houchins family, which, after living in Bouldin Creek for more than two decades, accepted an offer from Warren to buy its home.

“There’s a lot of frustration from everybody,” Nathan said. “No one wants to live next to this thing.”

READ: Uncommon Objects moving from longtime South Congress home

Jim Houchins and his family left Bouldin Creek this year after he said living in the Jewell Street home, directly behind the gallery, became too unpleasant. Houchins said they were resistant to moving after receiving an initial purchase offer, but several incidents such as the installation of a loud swimming pool pump that could be heard from Houchins’ bedroom soured their home life.

Although there was an attempt by the owner to reduce its hours of operation and property representatives said they constructed a fence around the equipment to mitigate the noise, Houchins said the noise “was still horrible.”

Then one night, Houchins said, he was awakened by the bright lights and noise of men skinning a large animal carcass at the Warren property.

“We personally found what he was doing distasteful,” Houchins said.

Property representatives said that all taxidermy for the gallery occurs off-site at a professional studio and not on the property. The incident, representatives said, was a tenant on the property dressing an animal from a private hunt and not related to the gallery.

“We spent some excruciating months deciding what to do,” Houchins said. “As unhappy as it made us to leave, we felt like we had to do it.”

Other Warren-owned properties surrounding the gallery, except for the lot reserved for parking, are investment rental properties, according to Rye.

It will be “no different from many other properties in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood and throughout Austin,” he wrote.

If Warren goes through with filing the conditional use permit, the city’s Planning Commission will eventually decide whether the gallery qualifies as a cultural service.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections

It has become a familiar scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee: A Texas nominee for a federal judicial post gets blasted by Democrats before being approved on a party-line vote. On Thursday, the committee, which includes both Texas GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, considered the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a district judgeship in Amarillo...
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park

An 18-year-old man arrested in the deaths of two young stepbrothers in a car crash last week in Cedar Park was racing when the wreck happened, police said Thursday. Hayden Michael Hammer was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts of racing on a highway causing death, a second-degree felony, Cedar Park police Cmdr. Bryan Wukasch said Thursday...
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote

Campaign finance reports filed in Austin this week show that groups trying to put CodeNext on the ballot are raising and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Two special political action committees that are by and large against the city’s current revamping of the entire land use code, calling the effort “CodeWreck,” have spent roughly...
BREAKING: Mother, 8-month-old baby found dead in house after fire, officials say
BREAKING: Mother, 8-month-old baby found dead in house after fire, officials say

A mother and her 8-month-old baby were found dead Thursday inside their Taylor house after it caught fire, Taylor police officials said. Taylor police said they are investigating this as a suspicious death. Taylor firefighters were responding to an unrelated medical call when they saw smoke coming from the home at 2006 Brewer’s Place. Firefighters...
Motorcyclist died in crash Monday near Travis, Hays county line

HAYS COUNTY Motorcyclist died in crash near county line A motorcyclist died in a crash with a tow truck Monday near the Travis and Hays county line, the Department of Public Safety said. Mackenzie Aloysius Gmitter, 26, died at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center less than an hour after the crash was reported, DPS officials said. Officials...
More Stories