Bee Cave council split on Backyard amendment limiting ticket sales


The Backyard development team’s attempt to skirt a requirement to gain vehicular access to Texas 71 by offering to limit concert ticket sales didn’t pay off. At the Nov. 28 meeting, the Bee Cave City Council split down the middle, 3 to 3, on a failed motion to approve proposed amendments to the proposed concert venue’s zoning requirements, with Mayor Caroline Murphy, Councilwoman Marie Lowman and Councilman Tom Matzen voting for the measure and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin, Councilman Monty Parker and Councilwoman Kara King voting against.

Developer Chris Milam hasn’t managed to gain access to build a road to Texas 71, which the city has made a requirement for receiving a certificate of occupancy for the project. Bee Cave Parkway is the sole access to the project. To get to Texas 71, Milam would have to negotiate to build through property he doesn’t own – property owned by Jeff Kent, the developer of Hill Country Indoor.

“We haven’t been successful on working to get (access), and therefore we worked to obtain the same result by backing down the number of ticket sales to the venue,” Milam told the City Council. The proposed amendment suggested the venue would be limited to 1,900 concertgoers per event until access to Texas 71 could be achieved. The amphitheater would be built to accomodate 3,410 concert attendees.

Bee Cave residents, many of them from the Ladera subdivision just across Bee Cave Parkway from the proposed mixed-use project, sat in the audience, a handful of them standing during citizen comments to express their concerns that the concert venue, together with the office space and hotel, will back up traffic on Bee Cave Parkway.

“It’s difficult to get out – to take a left,” Ladera subdivision resident Ed DeShields said. “And coming in when you come down Bee Cave Parkway, there are a lot of frustrated people on my bumper since you haven’t given me a stoplight, you haven’t given me a deceleration lane … we need to solve these problems.”

Milam offered to pay for gates to be installed at both Bee Cave Parkway entrances to the Ladera subdivision and to build a deceleration lane at the entrance, both at his own cost, in addition to a donation of $500,000 toward street maintenance in the subdivision. Ladera Homeowners Association President Steve Schmidt said it was a “great proposal” but declined to say more until the HOA board and community had an opportunity to weigh in.

Milam also offered to pay to bury the power lines Austin Energy is planning to build above ground along Bee Cave Parkway in front of the subdivision at an estimated cost of $2 million.

Milam argued that, with the length of the roads coming into the venue and the amount of car “stacking” space inside the Backyard’s two parking garages, the traffic impact on Bee Cave Parkway would be negligible even during events. The city’s own traffic engineer also shared an optimistic view of the traffic impact. Goodwin expressed skepticism, pointing out that the word “vehicular” was struck out in the ordinance language in reference to access to Texas 71.

“That makes me extremely suspicious when I see stuff like this,” Goodwin said. “I don’t expect to have to act like an attorney to comb through these documents. I expect that from my staff.”

Goodwin and King expressed a loss of faith in Milam, who originally approached Bee Cave years ago with a development including movie studios until the concept proved not viable.

“This is not the last amendment I’m going to spend hours of my life on,” Goodwin said. “The distributed energy center is not going to be built and the data centers are never going to be built. Mark my words. Everything else I’ve said about the project has come true.”

Parker expressed concerns about safety of the venue and read an email from Lake Travis Fire Rescue Chief Robert Abbott, which some council members said should have been sent to them prior to the council meeting.

“I don’t like these one-offs to the fire chief or going through back channels or having ‘gotchas’ on the dais,” Matzen said in a tense exchange with Parker.

Lowman expressed that the city has “an opportunity to put Bee Cave on the map” by resurrecting its music venue.



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