New Development Adds to Preserves Along South Fork of San Gabriel River

Web Posted Posted: 11/20/06 4:26 PM

One of the most rapidly-developing areas in Georgetown, which lies along Texas 29 west of Interstate 35 on Georgetown’s southwest side, also is one of the most environmentally sensitive. A new 1,700-acre development along the south fork of the San Gabriel River will significantly augment a chain of preserves and parks that has been established in that area in the last few years. The project by ABG Development Limited, for which the Georgetown city council approved a development agreement last Tuesday, will preserve about forty percent of the land in parks, preserves, and landscaped right-of-way.

The undulating ranchland topography in the area of the ABG project has thin soils and is dotted with prickly pear cactus and scrub trees. A traditional single-family residential development could result in erosion, degradation of water quality, and damage to caves that are common in the area. Such development also affects critical habitat for several endangered species, including the golden-cheeked warbler, the black-capped vireo, and several insects or cave spiders.

However, the parkland and preserves set aside in the ABG project are one link in a growing chain of protected open spaces along the South San Gabriel River. This ribbon of preserves and parks extends from Interstate 35 out to Garey Park, which is six miles to the west at the edge of Georgetown’s future boundary (see attached map).

     Preserves San Gabriel

Starting at I-35 and moving west, this series of parks and preserves includes:

• Wolf Ranch shopping center parkland, 18 acres (Parkland reserved but not developed as a City park.)
• Lyndoch Park, 30 acres (City park located north of the River Ridge neighborhood.)
• Shadow Canyon, 85 acres in parkland and preserves (A residential development with mixed-use retail and commercial areas has preliminary approvals, but has not yet begun.)
• Weir Ranch, 282 acres in parkland and preserves (Land dedicated in the City’s future land use plan, but no development plans currently.)
• ABG development, 600 acres of parkland and preserves (A residential project with mixed-use retail and commercial areas.)
• Patience Ranch, 41 acres preserved in a conservation easement (No current development plans for this tract.)
• Lively tract, undetermined number of acres in preserves (A residential development with parkland and native preserves is currently being planned for this 400-acre tract north of Garey Ranch.)
• Garey Ranch, 525-acres of parkland (In 2004, the Gareys announced their intention to bequeath their 525-acre ranch to the City as Garey Park.)

Altogether, preserves and parkland along the South San Gabriel River total nearly 1,600 acres. This represents a protected area four-and-a-half times the size of Austin’s 350-acre Zilker Park.

“This series of parks and preserves provides critically-needed protection for land along the south fork of the San Gabriel River,” says Tom Yantis, assistant city manager for the City of Georgetown. “This will mean less impervious cover, better water quality, and more natural areas for residents to enjoy. It also means more protected habitat for native animal and plant species.” For the remaining undeveloped tracts along the south San Gabriel, Yantis hopes that parkland dedication and preserves can be established to increase protected areas in the South San Gabriel River basin.

The ABG development will include a minimum of 600 acres of parks, conservation preserves, and landscaped rights-of-way including hike-and-bike trails. Located between Texas 29 and FM 2243, the new residential development will include retail and mixed-use areas. A construction timeline for the project is still in development.

Product types within residential and commercial areas at the ABG project will be decided by the developer based on market demand, with an overall cap set by water, wastewater, and roadway capacity. Residential units could include single-family homes in a range of lot sizes, town homes, apartments, and loft-style residences above shops or offices.

Special features planned for the ABG project include an outdoor amphitheater, pocket parks, a community green, and an environmental learning center. Additionally, roadways will be narrower and more contoured to the natural topography, which will require less grading and disturbance of the landscape.

“We think this project will set a new standard for development that respects and preserves the natural environment,” says Yantis. “For this reason, the council gave its enthusiastic approval. We hope to see more projects like it soon.”

For more information, please contact Tom Yantis, assistant city manager at (512) 930-8486.

Date Entered: November 20, 2006
Date Updated: December 9, 2006

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