Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CARDTalk: HEB process being rushed: important meeting tonight

HEB process being rushed: 
Important meeting tonight

Last week the Wimberley Planning and Zoning Commission allowed public comment for the first time on HEB's rush request for a host of city code variances, to build a large store and other facilities near the intersection of FM 2325 and RR 12, just behind Ace Hardware. Many of you were there to speak out for or against the store, or to encourage the city to seek and enforce strong guarantees that the store's presence or design would not harm Wimberley, its citizens and its small businesses.
The building of a new HEB supermarket, gas station and car wash in the heart of Wimberley will greatly impact the lives of almost every citizen, affect every business and change forever the very nature of this unique and beloved city.

The commission's decision was - wisely - postponed, but only for a few days. There is another, and probably final, P&Z meeting on this request:
Planning and Zoning Commission Special Meeting 
7:30 p.m. tonight, Wed. Dec. 18, 2013
City Hall, 221 Stillwater, just south of the Blanco River   
If the commission makes a recommendation, it will be taken up by City Council in meeting at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 19, also at City Hall. Whatever your feelings about HEB coming into the heart of Wimberley, we think you will agree that crucial decisions such as location, size, traffic, environmental concerns and signage should NOT be made in haste. We encourage you to attend and let your interest be known.  
The Steering Committee of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development has voted unanimously that it is irresponsible governance for the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council to allow arbitrarily imposed deadlines to strong-arm them into hastily-considered and poorly-studied decisions and concessions to HEB. The city is being rushed through this process as though HEB is granting us a great favor in coming here, rather than winning the privilege of making money from our community. If the School District wants to make this sale, and HEB wants to be in this city - and they do - they will still be able to make it happen after a few additional weeks or months.
Too many concerns need to be fully addressed:
  • the huge number of carefully crafted city building variances being lightly ignored;
  • the catastrophic effect that the new store will have on long-established local businesses;
  • the impact on the cherished small-town look and feel of Wimberley;
  • the road-clogging traffic congestion sure to result from the location of the project;
  • the large initial size of the store, which is to be increased later;
  • and many other environmental concerns and needs.
The city, under the pressure of a seller-imposed deadline that the city has no duty or need to meet, is rushing into a decision that should include input from a much better informed local populace, including people both in and around the city limits, who spend their money in Wimberley.
CARD submits that the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council should delay their decisions until more study, thought and public input can be reached. The wait will not financially impact either School District or HEB, but could very well make a huge difference in whether Wimberley remains "A Little Piece of Heaven", or becomes just another tacky, cookie cutter suburban look town. Don't lightly hand the future of Wimberley away on a silver platter, even to a "good" business. You have the power to drive a hard bargain; do it.
CARD asks Wimberley area residents to please attend the special P&Z Commission meeting Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30 pm at City Hall. This development has the potential to change Wimberley in ways we could regret.
CARD Steering Committee  

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