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Feathers ruffle at P&Z over SoBo

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A lengthy meeting of Boerne’s Planning & Zoning Commission Monday night resulted in evident frustration among commissioners who expressed both confusion and dissatisfaction with a presentation related to a mixed-used development in South Boerne, known as SoBo.

The SoBo area crosses Boerne’s South Main Street in the area of Herff Rd.

A proposal presented by engineering consultant firm Kinley and Horn seemed to cause particular consternation. Four driveway exits onto Herff Road, which were rejected during April’s meeting, had been replaced by seven private road “cross-section deviations.”

Commissioners brought up issues of terminology and design issues perceived as loopholes.

P&Z Commissioner Bob Cates spoke of “smoke and mirrors,” and asked, “we’re going to have (these traffic egresses) now because we’re calling them ‘streets’ instead of ‘drives?’”

Commissioner Paula Hayward resisted the presentation as well, noting that each time development firm Walters Southwest proposed such a number of traffic egresses onto Herff, “we’ve fought them every single time.”

However, City Planning Director Laura Talley advised the council that by proposing streets (rather than drives), the Walters Southwest design pitch had met the ordinance criteria.

During the course of the discussion that lasted over an hour, developer Bill Walters also expressed rising levels of frustration.

“We have adopted every single thing to the best of my knowledge that you have asked us to do,” Walters said. “We’ve completely redesigned our whole package in order to accommodate you.”

In 2001, Walters Southwest was involved in a lawsuit with the City of Bee Cave over the matter of traffic outlets at busy intersections as well as tree removal and impervious cover. The Bee Cave municipality lost the lawsuit and the development proceeded, according to the Walters Southwest design.

After approximately an hour of over-talking and back-and-forth between developer representatives and commissioners, Walters eventually pulled his proposal from the agenda, saying they would revisit the matter. “Give us a wish list,” Walters said. “I don’t want people to be confused about what they’re voting on.” “This is our third or fourth meeting on this and I think we’ve lost some time,” Commissioner Rich Sena said.