The Austin Chronicle

The Daily Hustle: 8/5/10 (Updated)

By Wells Dunbar, August 5, 2010, 1:35pm, Newsdesk

Update: One slooow meeting today as City Council’s most controversial item – limits on the number of historic zoning designations – was punted to August 19.

In the words of Laura Morrison, "I’m predicting that today will be a counterexample to my theory that controversy arises to fill any void of excitement on a council meeting day."

That’s not to say there wasn’t an attempt. After the consent agenda passed, Bill Spelman made the rare step of moving to reconsider the innocuous-sounding Item 4, a service extension request to run water pipes out to a plot of land owned by Wandering Creek Investments. However, Spelman made his motion in light of "surprising" and "disturbing" information he learned only on the dais: that the plot is under consideration to house the Formula 1 racetrack.

Noting that no disclaimer or map was included in Council backup, Spelman called up assistant city manager Rudy Garza for some answers. "Clearly everyone knows this is the F1 racetrack," Garza said. "I did not know that, Rudy,” said an obviously disgruntled Spelman. However, Garza noted the agreement – wherein the developer would build $4.4 million worth of infrastructure, then be reimbursed by the city, who ostensibly recoups the cost through new water and wastewater sales – only applied to the existing agreement for single family residential development, not a racetrack, and any future change would be run by council. "So, what we did, minutes ago, was not approve any service to the F1 racetrack," Spelman said.

However, Spelman worries council did "set a precedent to run pipes out to the same place for a different purpose," he told the Hustle once Council recessed, in effect "giving the F1 people an argument" for future service, possibly under the same reimbursable terms. Moreover, the fact that some council members – like Randi Shade, who mentioned talking to the mayor about the item – and staff knew about the overlap, and others didn’t, riled Spelman, who quoted advice from Thomas Jefferson: "'When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.' And I’m still counting."

We’ll cover the scant pickings from the rest of the agenda tomorrow.

Original post: The Hustle's heading down to Council and will deliver an update later today. Until then, check out our News section for the week, and our previous agenda rundown.

See ya later!

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