Categorized | Burnet, News, News By Town

Proposed road sparks heated debate on fire safety, emergency response in Burnet subdivisions

STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY

Some residents of The Hills of Shady Grove in Burnet expressed concern about a road connecting their neighborhood to an adjacent 22-acre tract of undeveloped land. Courtesy photo

Some residents of The Hills of Shady Grove in Burnet expressed concern about a road connecting their neighborhood to an adjacent 22-acre tract of undeveloped land. Courtesy photo

BURNET — Residents and city officials remain at odds over a potential decision to connect two subdivisions with a road that would increase access points and improve emergency response to the area, though homeowners fear it might bring more traffic problems.

Burnet City Council members are considering a possible right-of-way easement on 22 undeveloped acres between two existing subdivisions: The Hills of Shady Grove and The Woodlands, located on the northeast side of the city off RR 963.

On June 12, the property owner of the 22 acres, who also developed The Hills of Shady Grove neighborhood, requested the public easement pre-designation by the city, which would allow for a connecting road.

Some residents fear the thoroughfare would mean more traffic and a decrease in property values.

“On paper, it may make sense, but overall, increasing the traffic flow has a higher risk of safety concerns in our neighborhood,” said Doug Feldt, a resident of The Hills of Shady Grove. “There are other solutions they could balance versus just the city’s desire to have a street there.”

Council members tabled the item June 12, pending the upcoming workshop discussion.

Fire officials said connecting the two neighborhoods with the road would bring all three tracts into compliance with city code, which requires subdivisions with more than 30 homes to have either two entry/exit points or in-home fire-suppression sprinkler systems.

“Any type of event that happens on a single entry cuts off access,” Burnet Fire Marshal John Erskine said. “It’s not just about fires. It can be medical emergencies, evacuations, road closures, water or sewer leaks.”

Due to factors such as stalled construction or city-granted variances for topography, other Burnet neighborhoods have a single entrance/exit access point.

Those neighborhoods include Eagle’s Nest and The Ranch at Delaware Creek along with The Hills of Shady Grove and The Woodlands.

“We have let the cat out of the bag in the two entrance/exit deals,” Erskine said. “The fire department’s stance is that all of our subdivisions should have two ways in and out. Or, one way out and the houses have to all have (an indoor fire-suppression) sprinkler system.”

In 2017, Delaware Springs and Honey Creek Ranches subdivisions came into compliance with city code with construction of the roadway Ramseys Way, which feeds onto U.S. 281 South.

“(Having dual-entry points) puts us in a better position to protect the public long term,” Burnet City Manager David Vaughn said.

Feldt bristled at the potential for a similar fix for The Hills neighborhood.

“All the construction traffic going through The Hills could go on for years,” he said. “Nobody bought property here thinking the city would run a street through here.”

Vaughn pointed out that a landowner has a right to develop their property in accordance to city codes.

The City Council will hold a workshop to address the issue at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, in council chambers, 2402 U.S. 281 South. The council could take action on the matter during its regular session, which starts at 6 p.m. that same day.

connie@thepicayune.com

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