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Page 166
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 9
two separate mitigation areas west of the run-
way and proposed an upland grass design--
basically a habitat for prairie animals--and
opted for a single upland conservation area
located well east of the runway. This would
be a somewhat isolated territory that includ-
ed all impacted zones around existing ponds
#1, #2, and #3, with a total mitigation area of
172,824 square feet.
Our new plan was simple.
It was direct.
We could mobilize in a matter of days.
And it was rejected.
For whole minutes after submitting the
plan, I thought we had smooth sailing ahead,
but something odd was in the Austin air. (Cra-
zies of all stripes were acting out, it seemed.
I'd recently read in the Austin newspaper that
a local real estate developer had hired a crew
to illegally cut down a large tree on City prop-
erty so that he had a better view from his liv-
ing room, a father had shot his baby in the
foot to get back at his wife, and days later--
and in the midst of a trial--a juror had snuck
a gun into the Travis County Courthouse, for
what purpose no one was exactly sure.) I don't
know what all of this meant except to say that
unexpected things happen and how the City
might react to our plans was hard to predict.
We made more changes to our mitigation
plan and tried again.
Shannon Dorsey and Colin Bible with
Garver Engineers sent the City another
draft, which the City swiftly and politely de-
nied. This time the City's Andrew Clamann
offered a handful of helpful suggestions. An-
drew noted that any plantings should include
a mix of native shrubs and woody plants at
a rate of 50 per acre. (Check.) That simply
reseeding a pasture in exchange for a wet-
land would not be considered 1:1 mitigation
and therefore a detailed planting strategy was
required. (We'd submitted a planting strate-
gy, but okay, check.) Andrew recommended a
mix of native shrubs and woody plants placed
in the general vicinity of the property's natu-
ral drainage patterns at a rate of 50 per acre
for the inner mitigation area of approximate-
ly four acres. (Already done. Check.) The
mix should be around 25 percent trees and
75 percent shrubs chosen from the "Native
and Adapted Landscape Plants" manual from
the "City of Austin Grow Green Manual." (It
couldn't hurt to repeat: Trees attract birds
and birds and airplanes don't mix. But all
right already. Check.) Preferred are drought-
resistant plants that can provide a habitat and
at the same time food for wildlife--i.e. lanta-
na, butterfly bush, columbine, Chile pequine,
Texas persimmon, Mexican plum, pecan, bur
oak and the like. (Helpful suggestion. Check.)
In July we made the changes, submitted
the newly revised mitigation plan once again,
and waited for a good-natured rejection.
We didn't have to wait long.
This time City staff detailed nine specific
reasons for nixing the plan. For example, we
mislabeled several Critical Environmental
Features with a numbering system the City
didn't like, the required silt fences didn't co-
incide perfectly with some feature setbacks,
the grading activities in wetland areas hadn't
been previously approved (hinting, I believe,
at the need for yet another permit from yet