Will Residents Bee Invited?

Bee Cave residents say they are somewhat mollified by a developer's promise to scale back a proposed 1.8 million-square-foot development in their village, but they vow to stay vigilant nonetheless. "When people talk about 'scale' it's difficult to evaluate," said Adrienne Lallo, one of more than 400 petitioners opposed to the mammoth nature of the proposed Hill Country Galleria retail development. At a meeting Tuesday night, several dozen residents, organized under the name Citizens for a Livable Bee Cave, presented a petition stating, "We are going to hold developers to their promise that they're going to include residents in the process."

The Galleria is planned on more than 114 acres known as the Baldwin Tract -- the site where a Wal-Mart and a Barnes & Noble store nearly located until village officials imposed a moratorium on new development. A year later, in 2000, the 1,000-resident incorporated village adopted a master plan to help direct growth in this fast-growing area west of Austin.

Project developers include International Development Management of Austin, Forest City Enterprise of Cleveland and Los Angeles, and Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas. The primary architect is Larry Speck of Page, Southerland Page, a former dean of the UT School of Architecture. In revising their plans for the project, developers have said they will acquire about 450 acres of undeveloped property to set aside as a conservancy.

"The people who signed the petition all understand that the property is going to be developed," said Lallo, a resident of the Lake Pointe neighborhood near the proposed development. "We just want to make sure that it's smart development." The village aldermen, meanwhile, say they expect the Hill Country Galleria to be on their meeting agendas for the next several months. "We plan to be at all of those meetings," Lallo said.

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