Thursday, December 19, 2013

HEB vote and change to City Council Schedule

Dear Neighbors,
First: According to City Administrator Don Ferguson, City Council WILL NOT consider the approval of HEB's building and variance requests at the meeting today, Thursday, Dec. 19, which we previously understood to be the case. Mr. Ferguson said the council will consider the HEB issue at the Thursday, Jan. 2 meeting. That meeting is not yet on the City Calendar,, but they are usually at 6 p.m.
Last night: On Dec. 18, before a second consecutive standing-room-only crowd of very involved Wimberley citizens, the Wimberley Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 to send to City Council the commission's recommendation to approve the HEB proposal for a new store, gas station and car wash just north of the intersection of RR 12 and FM 2325 (just behind Ace Hardware). As pointed out by the commission chair, Tom Haley, this is a recommendation only; City Council may or may not approve it.
The three members who voted against approval, Steve Klepfer, Beth Mitchell and Rick Burleson, did so for a combination of reasons, including location and impact on the city. It would be inappropriate to characterize their complex and individual reasons without extensive quotes. However, one common theme - shared by the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development and many people in attendance - was that the process was unnecessarily and dangerously hasty, without enough opportunity for thorough study and without time for citizen education, consideration and input.
Many citizens spoke. Let there be no doubt that this is a committed and involved community of which we can be proud. Opinions ranged from, to paraphrase, "No HEB here at all", to "Yes, I want HEB here". The overwhelming majority was somewhere between, wanting things such as more public input, more restrictions on size, no gas station or more time for deliberation and planning. It is fair to say that virtually no one expressed feelings negative to HEB as a business, and that HEB has shown willingness to listen to and, in some cases, address concerns.
As stated previously, CARD has taken no position on whether HEB should come into Wimberley. It is not just a question of if HEB comes here, but how it comes: The size of the store, how it looks, where it is located, what it does to and for the community, and how it affects traffic, water supply, water runoff and the city's character and future. City Council is faced with not one decision, but many. What it decides will have a major impact on Wimberley, for good or ill - probably a lot of both - and all citizens should become as informed as possible, and then let City Council know their feelings.
Louis Parks
Chair, CARD

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