Planning and zoning takes no action during special meeting
The Boerne Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a special meeting last week to discuss the preliminary plat for Phase 6 of the Shoreline Park development near Boerne City Lake.
The matter previously was tabled during the Oct. 5 meeting after board members received correspondence from citizens questioning the ability of Kendall West Utility to provide adequate wastewater to the new subdivision.
“A lot of misinformation is out here,” Boerne Director of Development Services Jeff Carroll said.
According to state law, the board has 30 days from the time the preliminary plat was filed to make a decision, otherwise the preliminary plat is approved by operation of law.
During last week’s meeting, none of the planning and zoning commissioners made a motion to approve or deny the preliminary plat, and the deadline was Oct. 25 to do so. Therefore, the preliminary plat was approved by operation of law.
“I’d like to thank the staff,” said Bob Cates, planning and zoning board member. “I think they did a thorough job.”
Phase 6 encompasses about 26.6 acres with 64 residential lots, six open space lots and 4.74 acres of right of way, and it is the first phase that has been up before the planners that drains toward the lake.
City staff took three main points from the early October meeting. It set out to research available KWU discharge information from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; to verify the capacity calculations as provided by Cal Chapman, a former planning and zoning board member; and to provide the serviceable letter staff had received from KWU with the master plan approval.
The Star previously reached out to TCEQ in early October for information about discharge flow rates from the current KWU wastewater treatment plant, but TCEQ officials said KWU was not required to submit that information because the company is currently operating under a Texas Land Application Permit. So rather than discharging into a water source like a creek or lake, KWU currently is using its treated wastewater to water the golf course at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort.
City staff received the same answer, but it was able to get flow data from staff at KWU that shows over the last 24 months, the plant has operated well below the permitted volume of 150,000 gallons per day.
To take it one step further, city staff calculated the potential usage for KWU based on the number of single-family connections currently online in the KWU service area and information from Tapatio about connections at the resort.
According to a graph from the city, KWU has 261 single-family connections. Tapatio has 111 at the hotel, 33 condo units, 400 at the Bluffs Event Center, 125 at the clubhouse restaurant and bar, 200 in the Cibolo Ballroom, 25 in The Studio, 45 in the Troubadour room and 12 in the Ace in the Hole boardroom.
Based on a usage of 200 gallons per day for single families, 100 gallons per day for the hotel and condo units, 20 gallons per day at the restaurant and bar and 5 gallons per day for the rest of the connections, the city determined that with every family at home, a completely booked hotel and people in every available seat in the clubhouse, KWU’s estimated average daily flow is around 72,510 gallons per day – which is about half of its permitted capacity.
Then, staff added the additional sewer flows for the entire Shoreline development, which Carroll said won’t be fully built out, sold and online for possibly another decade. Considering 360 single-family lots with an estimated 200 gallons per day for each lot, that would add another 72,000 gallons per day. Adding both of those totals, KWU, will be at 144,510 gallons per day, still below the 150,000 permitted.
“By TCEQ standards, KWU is many years ahead of schedule in seeking a means to expand their plant while they are only at 35 percent capacity,” information from the city stated.
TCEQ rules stipulate that when KWU is averaging 75 percent of its total capacity, the company has to start planning for a new plant. When it’s averaging 90 percent capacity, the company has to start construction on a new plant.
KWU already has purchased property, started engineering plans and filed for a new wastewater permit for a new plant that will have the ability to scale up to handle 490,000 gallons per day, information from the company stated.
“By comparison, the city of Boerne plants are operating now at about 60 percent of capacity, and we are also in planning for an expansion of the plant on Old San Antonio Road ahead of our requirement to do so,” information from the city stated. “The KWU existing plant clearly appears to have the capacity to serve the entire Shoreline Park development.”
Deputy City Manager and General Manager of Utilities Jeff Thompson said plants and expansions are very expensive, and if the city or KWU were to build out its new plant to full capacity right away, the existing ratepayers would have to foot that bill.
“It would be financially irresponsible of the city to place that burden on existing customers,” he said. “We presently have a whole lot more customers coming to the city of Boerne that we have promised to provide service to. We don’t have nearly the capacity to serve them all. That’s just how it works. … You have to be ready. You have to be prepared, and we are.”
John Mark Matkin, president of KWU, is planning to scale up the new plant, starting with a 160,000-gallon capacity first, then expanding as the need arises.
Chapman’s letter stated the total daily wastewater treatment plant flows using his example would be at 157,000 gallons per day without the addition of Shoreline Park. But Carroll said even if a huge event pushed usage close to existing capacity or even past the 150,000 gallon-per-day mark, TCEQ looks at the running average use, so KWU would need to see that kind of activity sustained for a much longer period to even catch the attention of TCEQ.
Chapman calculated only 200 existing homes at about 150 gallons per day, which is 30,000 gallons per day compared to the city’s estimation of 52,200 for single family homes.
But he estimated 20,000 gallons per day for the restaurant, bar and golf patrons and workers, while the city estimated about 5,910 gallons per day for a full clubhouse with the event center, restaurant, bar and ballrooms.
Chapman adds another 10,000 gallons per day for “offices, condos workers and staff members, spa, swimming pools and other retail existing,” and another 67,000 gallons per day for “resort with 300-person event.” Chapman said the spa and pool usage could drive wastewater flows even higher.
With every hotel room and condo occupied the city estimated 14,100 gallons per day.
Chapman said his calculations don’t account for the other approved developments within KWU’s service area to which the company is required to provide service.
Carroll compared it to traffic, saying that a snapshot of a road at rush hour is different than the average traffic on the road over the course of an entire day. He said the TCEQ requirement for planning for a new plant only kicks in when a utility has three consecutive months where the monthly average exceeds 75 percent of its flows.
“We’re in 100 percent compliance with our discharge permit,” Matkin said. “We’ve been 100 percent transparent in everything that we’ve done.”
Staff also provided a copy of the approval letters from TCEQ, saying the construction of the KWU pipeline and lift station were built in compliance, and a letter of service, which Carroll said isn’t typically provided until the final plat.
“As stewards of our community, I just want to make sure we’ve answered the question about Kendall West being able to maintain service, currently and in the future,” board member Joe Anzollitto said.