Devastated by development next to Lake Georgetown

A few weeks ago I learned of another new proposed development in Williamson County - this one called Lakeside Estates on the northwest end of Lake Georgetown. According to news reports and a presentation to the Georgetown city council, the developer's initial plans include approximately 1645 homes on 722 acres right next to the borders of Lake Georgetown. While I had sadly become desensitized to the fact that corporate capitalism wants to turn every last acre of Williamson county into one colossal suburban development, this particular development struck a nerve since for many years I considered that area of Lake Georgetown to be one of the most scenic in the county. For years, I have hiked the Goodwater Trail from Camp Tejas to a hillside (30.68477,-97.79659) not far from mile marker 8 where the trail emerges from a wooded hillside to an astounding view that includes the North San Gabriel River slowly widening and turning into Lake Georgetown not far downstream. After hiking for a number of hours, this area became a great place to rest and enjoy, not only the view, but also the peace and solitude away from the suburban development which has crowded against other borders of the lake. It truly was a refuge from the blitzkrieg of development, from the construction noise, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, car noise, dogs barking and so on that seems to now accompany many hiking trails in Williamson county. Now it will likely include all of those things, and the view, which mostly included the river, the lake, and at most a few expensive houses on the hills across the river, will now include at the very least numerous houses on the adjacent hillside. It will be a refuge no more, just another sad reminder of the voracious, uncontrolled expanse of humanity.

Unfortunately, the more I investigated the worse things appear to be. The initial plans show that most of the development would be significantly more dense than almost any other development adjacent to the lake. Despite the presence of some number of one acre lots around some of the edges of the property, most of the 1645 homes would be crowded onto 300 or so acres probably similar to the neighboring behemoth Santa Rita Ranch, simply obliterating the native landscape and ecology, almost all within a mile of the Goodwater Trail. As a naturalist and botanist, my heart breaks to think of all the flora and fauna that will be erased in favor of more rooftops, turf grass, and pavement. In fact, like most areas that have been developed we will likely never know all the flora and fauna of the area. There are only a handful of iNaturalist observations for the tract at the moment. It is possible that there is habitat for one or more endangered or threatened species there such as the Golden Cheeked Warbler, but that does not protect the land, it simply means the developer might have to pay an additional fee for impacted habitat that might go towards preserving habitat elsewhere. The prospect of this tract escaping destruction seems minimal. And so this development will take this once quiet area and bring the worst of suburbia to it.

A few links:
Story from KXAN
Developer presentation to Georgetown City Council on June 27, 2023
Spot on Goodwater trail northeast of development

Posted on July 24, 2023 06:05 PM by rymcdaniel rymcdaniel

Comments

Ryan, I'm so sorry for this expected loss. I totally understand your viewpoint and empathize. Unfortunately, this scenario is happening throughout a lot of our state. Thank you for all that you do as a botanist and naturalist to help educate about the flora and fauna of our great state.

Posted by suz 11 months ago

Thanks @suz. Yes, this does seem to be happening in many places around Texas.

Posted by rymcdaniel 11 months ago

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