Leander store dispute:
City Council to consider zoning change to allow grocer, but residents worry about crowding.
Supporters say a proposed H-E-B is a testament to Leander’s growth, but some neighbors say developers need to look for a different site.
The city’s third grocery store could be an H-E-B on the corner of FM 2243 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Some say the potential store is a testament to Leander’s continued growth, but some neighbors, citing concerns about flooding and traffic, say developers need to look elsewhere.
The Leander City Council will consider a zoning change needed to allow for the store at its Jan. 17 meeting, weeks after it was originally set to take up the issue. H-E-B officials postponed the zoning request to “further review the concerns of the neighborhood,” spokeswoman Leslie Sweet said.
Residents in the Ridgmar Landing neighborhood, who have enjoyed a rural lifestyle in the city’s eastern extraterritorial jurisdiction, are asking the grocery chain to look at other spots along Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
“I don’t know if there is a perfect corner anywhere, but what (H-E-B is) proposing works fine there,” City Manager Kent Cagle said, adding that zoning fights like this are not new in the community.
Sweet said the chain acquired the land for possible future development, but it has yet to set a timetable for when construction could actually begin. She said the company has looked all around the area and the corner is ideal.
“From a retail perspective, it’s a great location, especially considering this is a future interest for us and we believe there will be continued growth along that corridor,” Sweet said.
Nearby residents disagree, arguing nearly any other corner along Ronald Reagan — where the city anticipates much future growth — would be better.
“People that had an open field beside them now see a retail structure coming, and I understand why they don’t like it,” Cagle said.
Maggie McLening, who has written letters opposing the zoning change on behalf of about 50 area residents, said Tropical Storm Hermine in 2010 quickly filled the portion of Brushy Creek that runs
between her home and the proposed site. The flood changed the landscape of that tract, she said, and though Hermine brought the worst flood she’s seen, McLening said the creek rises quickly and can spill beyond its borders two or three times a year.
She and other residents fear that floodwaters from Brushy Creek could potentially rise to the proposed store’s parking lot and gas station, potentially carrying contaminants back into the creek and then into the Edwards Aquifer. They also say they don’t believe that two-lane FM 2243 can handle the traffic the store could attract.
“This should be about suitability of zoning for this site,” McLening said. “Things like flash flooding and traffic issues are out of their control.”
H-E-B has submitted requests for a traffic analysis of the intersection from the Texas Department of Transportation, which maintains FM 2243, said Chris Bishop, a spokesman for TxDOT.
H-E-B came into possession of the roughly 8- acre tract after a July land swap with Williamson County. In return, H-E-B gave a 5-acre tract near the intersection of Texas 29 and U.S. 183. The Williamson Central Appraisal District showed the land H-E-B acquired as worth $578,710 — compared with the $338,957 appraised value of the land the county received. County spokeswoman Connie Watson said the county’s own appraisals showed the tracts were equally valued, and the county needed the tract it ended up with for a right of way for roadwork in the area.
In November, Leander’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the City Council approve a zoning change to allow for the H-E-B, despite pleas from several residents to deny the request. The commission called for at least 100 feet of wooded, natural buffer between the store and the neighborhood. Contact Benjamin Wermund at 246-1150. Twitter: @BenjaminEW
Maggie McLening and her neighbors are concerned that runoff from a proposed H-E-B parking lot and gas station will pollute Brushy Creek. The creek rises quickly and can spill beyond its borders two or three times a year, she says.