Stratus Goes to Council on Lantana

SOS Alliance threatens to sue if application approved

A city decision is expected this week on the re-application of Stratus Properties for approval of its project plat on the Lantana tract – the heavily disputed piece of southwest land planned as the site for a new office complex for Advanced Micro Devices. Last week the council met in executive session concerning the project, apparently to consider legal issues governing the tract. The Save Our Springs Alliance, which has been fighting the proposed construction in the Barton Springs watershed, has threatened to sue if the city grants approval, and more specifically, if it allows "grandfathering" of the tract under the city's SOS ordinance – thereby permitting development at a higher impervious cover than allowed under the ordinance.

In a letter to the council, Bill Bunch of SOS said that the plan being submitted clearly constitutes a "change in the 'project'" under state law – because the plat originally designated as "retail" is now being resubmitted for an office complex. "State grandfathering law," wrote Bunch, "is very clear that a change in the 'project' triggers a loss of grandfathering status." Bunch called the city staff's apparent willingness to allow this change (pending council approval) "a dangerous and irresponsibly broad interpretation" of state law and "an unconstitutional abdication of the public police powers [and] a violation of our home rule powers" as well as the city's legal obligations to protect the environment. Stratus and AMD have insisted that the Lantana project is both legal and environmentally sound.

The Alliance responds that the ordinance requires 25% or less impervious cover, and AMD's plans call for at least 31% impervious cover. More broadly, the Alliance sees the Stratus/AMD project as a development wedge aimed at the entire Barton Springs watershed, moving several thousand new employees and an exponential increase of vehicle traffic into the area, generating spin-off development of homes and more businesses, and initiating another wave of land speculation in the most sensitive local area above the Edwards Aquifer.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

environment, Stratus Properties, Advanced Micro Devices, Save Our Springs Alliance, Barton Springs, Edwards Aquifer

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