Marble Falls OKs 7-11 store near historic district despite outcry

Marble Falls City Council approves 7-11 store over outcry

Advisor to property developer Bill Bray addressed the Marble Falls City Council to offer a defense of the proposed 7-11 convenience store and fuel station at U.S. 281 and Seventh Street. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

The Marble Falls City Council voted to approve a conditional-use permit allowing for a 7-11 convenience store and gas station at the southeast corner of U.S. 281 and Seventh Street despite residents’ concerns that the project would have a negative impact on the adjacent historic district. 

Councilors approved measures clearing the way for the development during their regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 17. The vote was 5-2, with councilors Reed Norman and Rene Rosales dissenting.

The conditional-use permit was required because part of the property exists in Neighborhood Commercial zoning, which would prevent the construction of a gas station. A majority of the property is zoned for General Commercial, where the gas station is allowed by rights.

“I have a direct line of vision to where this convenience store and gas station will be,” said Caryl Calsyn, whose Seventh Street house has a historical marker. “The property goes from 281 to Avenue G. That’s the beginning of the historic district in Marble Falls.

“It’s not a good introduction to a good historical district,” she added.

Bill Bray, an advisor to the project’s developer, defended the plan before the council. 

“The bottom line is simply this: Is Avenue G better off or worse off with this project? Of course, my view is one view, but when you look at the traffic situation, it’s better for sure,” Bray said. “There’s a building that’s sitting on lots 6, 7, 8 that hasn’t been lived in and is uninhabitable for the past 10 years. It’s no asset to the community. So, when it’s demolished and replaced with part of this project, it’s going to be an improvement to the neighborhood area over the area.”

Proposed 7-11 in Marble Falls
Residents near a proposed 24-hour convenience store at U.S. 281 and Avenue G are concerned the facility doesn’t fit with the nearby historical residential area. City of Marble Falls document

Bray indicated that the developer had accepted many city staff-recommended conditions in its planning of the project, including a masonry wall at the property line fronting Avenue G, the planting of coverage trees, and the installation of a 5-foot public sidewalk around the project and along Avenue G. 

Seven members of the public spoke against the proposed project, citing traffic, noise, parking, and the impact on the historic district as reasons they did not want the convenience store and fuel station next to the neighborhood.

“I truly support economic development in my hometown, but only development that is appropriate in appropriate places,” said MaxAnne Copeland Jones, who lives in a 1910 historic home in the neighborhood. “A 24-hour convenience store/gas station is not appropriate development near a neighborhood, especially not adjacent to a historical neighborhood and in the middle of town.”

Some council members voiced concern that their hands were tied on the issue and that if they did not approve the ordinance providing conditional use, the developer would proceed to build on the General Commercial portion of the site regardless and without taking staff-recommended conditions. 

“I live in the neighborhood, and I feel like the rest of you, for the most part, are not really excited about the project, but — and this is a big but — understanding the way our laws work, right now, we have a proposal before us that allows us to give some guidance and allows us to require certain things of the project that are not necessarily required by law,” Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Westerman said. “If we were to vote this down, the project could still be built, and it would not have any of the modifications that could help buffer the neighborhood.”

The council broke into executive session twice during the discussion of the three ordinances applicable to the project in order to confer with the city attorney.

“These kinds of issues, whether deep-seated or not, put council members in an uncomfortable position,” Councilor Dave Rhodes said. “We’re stuck in the middle between what may be community desires and, let’s just call it, the law. We’re sworn to uphold the rules of the game.”

alex@thepicayune.com

5 thoughts on “Marble Falls OKs 7-11 store near historic district despite outcry

  1. What a load of crap. Conditional use is a fancy word for variance. And doesn’t have to be allowed and can be declined for any of these reasons stated. P&Z voted this down. The neighborhood is against it. But just like the monstrosity that was Bealls, you see who owns certain council members. Bill Brey – not the developer but and advisor speaks up and a couple of council people dare not say no.

    And their argument that they could have proceeded on the lot that was general commercial, yeah right. Anyone that had tried to build in this town, well other than Bill Brey i guess, had seen the power of development services.

    A bunch of you vocal Republicans that worked so had for the national election should try spending some time correcting the West Austin Branch office masquerading as Marble Falls council members. I’d say unbelievable but seeing our state and nation right now, why should we expect any less from our local public self-servants.

    1. Who are the west Austin voting branch you speak of? I’d love to vote anyone out that is a part of that.

  2. Really? Do we need another gas station on 281 in the busiest part of town? Not to mention that 7-11 is already building another station just a few miles south of this spot. And, why do we have P&Z (who at least show some common sense) if the city council is going to ignore them?

  3. Lincoln said, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” If you have family, you’ve already experienced this. They’re just trying to make a unfortunate situation more palatable.

  4. Are you kidding me? There are 7/8 gas stations within a mile, totally unnecessary.
    Might as well add a A&W Root-beer and another Taco Bell next to it.

    Put in a kids clothing store or a bakery. Will there be limits to their giant neon signs and hours?
    I think I may run for council, someone needs to think like a normal human
    and if this is a scandalous council, who are the bad guys that are paid off? Vote them out, this town is
    too nice. Come on, people, we need new food, bakeries, gift shops, this is a special town.

    Hey Town Hall > This is what happens when people get lazy. They should restrict their bright, ugly lights.

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