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Commissioners in negotiations to fix dangerous Spicewood intersection

Burnet County commissioners Billy Wall and Joe Don Dockery

Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery (right) asks for the Burnet County Commissioners Court's approval to continue negotiations for purchasing property to move a fence that blocks the view of oncoming traffic at a County Road 410 intersection in Spicewood. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The future of a dangerous intersection in Spicewood remains in limbo. The Burnet County Commissioners Court is working to move a fence that obscures the view of oncoming traffic on CR 410. However, some residents are saying that is not enough and insisting stop signs or other measures are taken to make the intersection safe.

Commissioners approved further negotiations between Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery and property owner Matt King, who built the fence, during the Commissioners Court’s regular meeting on Tuesday, March 14. The area is in Dockery’s precinct.

The court is seeking to purchase a portion of King’s property so the privacy fence can be moved back, allowing for a better line of sight on CR 410 when exiting the Lakeside Beach neighborhood. As it stands, the new fence blocks the view of southbound traffic at the Lakeside Beach exit, making it difficult to safely leave the neighborhood.

The court first addressed the matter on Feb. 14 when it approved the installation of stop signs at the intersection in a 3-2 vote. The court later repealed the order on Feb. 28 when it discovered it was necessary to hold a public hearing on the matter, which took place Tuesday morning.

Several residents from communities along CR 410 attended the hearing and voiced their support or opposition to the installation of stop signs, but all agreed it would be best for the fence line to be moved back.

“I’ve had some preliminary discussions with the builder but felt like we were at a point where I had to come back to the Commissioners Court to get approval for those formal negotiations,” Dockery told the court.

He explained that he’d like to pursue negotiations with King and purchase enough land to set the fence line back so the view of the road is not obscured. No price or conditions are known as of yet. 

“The three-way stop is a last resort,” Dockery continued. “We will make every effort to try and do it in a different form, but should that fail, we will be bringing it back to the court at a later date.”

Burnet County Judge James Oakley pointed to poor planning as the root of the problem. Lakeside Beach was platted over 60 years ago and did not consider the potential for fences blocking the view of traffic on a rural county road.

“This is a cleanup maneuver, and this is a way to manage the situation and to best serve the citizens all along the road,” he said.

Oakley is a Spicewood Beach resident who regularly travels on CR 410. He opposed the three-way stop in the Feb. 14 vote along with Commissioner Billy Wall.

Burnet County Commissioners Court public hearing March 14, 2023
Residents from communities along CR 410 in Spicewood attended a public hearing on March 14 regarding the creation of a three-way stop at an intersection by the Lakeside Beach subdivision. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Ten area residents spoke during the 9:30 a.m. hearing. Four of the residents strongly supported stop signs for safety reasons; three were strongly opposed, concerned a three-way stop was unnecessary regulation. Two other residents wanted to see more data on the topic or other solutions that could be implemented before stop signs were considered.

“While I’m grateful for the negotiations with this property owner, it’s going to be expensive,” resident Karen Bruett said.

She is on the Lakeside Beach Homeowners Association board and sits as a commissioner on the Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 9 board, which serves Spicewood. She fought in favor of the creation of the three-way stop on Feb. 14 and reasserted its necessity during the public hearing.

“This is a very expensive band-aid to a problem that is just going to get bigger,” she said. 

The costs of purchasing the land versus the installation of stop signs is currently unknown. Bruett also cited data from a Texas Department of Transportation study in 2020 showing that 300 vehicles leave Lakeside Beach every day and an estimated 1,100 vehicles travel down CR 410.

Opponents of the stop signs insisted they were unnecessary. The pillars of their argument were that no accidents have been recorded at the intersection in question, a three-way stop could lead to more unnecessary stop signs and lights across the county, and moving the fence will solve the problem. 

“The situation may not resolve itself,” Dockery said. “We will do everything we can in lieu of putting the stop signs up, but I’m not going to tell you that it won’t be back at this table.”