Mayor Wynn Responds on SOS

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 21, 2004

Mike [Clark-Madison],
   You make thought-provoking points in your analysis of the Temple-Inland (not quite yet official) proposal ["Time to Repeal SOS?," News, Jan. 16], but you overlook a major component: potential environmental benefits.
   At my first meeting with Temple-Inland, I told them – and they acknowledged – that despite local job creation being my clear priority, there would have to be significant environmental reasons for my colleagues and I to want to waive the SOS Ordinance. Accordingly, there is ongoing analysis in two areas. First and foremost is a scientific analysis of how the proposed T-I project can capture the runoff from an adjacent 19 acres. That land is currently developed with homes and apartments with no structural controls, and the corresponding runoff drains into a culvert that passes under MoPac and flows directly into Barton Creek just above the springs. The pollutant load of that water draining into Barton Creek perhaps can be significantly reduced. There needs to be a scientific analysis of how advantageous that capture may be and a decision about whether it mitigates the negative of an SOS variance.
   Second, there of course is the opportunity for off-site mitigation in the form of additional land purchases in the recharge zone. We know that there are several tracts of land that are either grandfathered or just outside the jurisdiction of the city of Austin that will soon be developed at intensities that will be detrimental to the environment. There may be an acquisition opportunity associated with the T-I project. If so, it also should be analyzed for its environmental benefit.
   I am supportive of analyzing these potential environmental benefits and perhaps coupling them with the economic benefits of local job creation and the social equity benefits of an M/WBE compliant private construction project. Obviously, it would take a significant set of "pros" to balance the single con of an SOS amendment.
Will Wynn
Austin Mayor
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