Round Rock Edition | September 2021

ROUND ROCK EDITION VOLUME 17, ISSUE 1 SEPT. 4OCT. 1, 2021 ONLINE AT Local lawsuit

ROUND ROCK EDITION

VOLUME 17, ISSUE 1 SEPT. 4OCT. 1, 2021

ONLINE AT

Local lawsuit aimed at sales tax rule change

Round Rock ocials said they stand to lose millions of dollars due to a proposed rule change from the Texas Comptroller’s Oce, Texas Administrative Code Rule 3.334. Net loss

$30 million Estimated loss of sales tax revenue for scal year 2019-20 if the rule had been in place at that time

BY BROOKE SJOBERG

A change to the Texas Administrative Code that dictates how sales taxes are paid out to cities, counties and other jurisdictions that collect tax revenue is expected to have a signicant impact on cities that have leveraged sales tax in economic development such as Round Rock. At issue is the assignment of sales taxes to jurisdictions, which are paid to the jurisdiction in which a seller is located by the Texas Comptroller’s Oce. Changes made by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar to Rule 3.334 of the code would have the sales tax be assigned to the jurisdiction of the pur- chaser, including for out-of-state transactions. While neighboring cities such as Pugerville and Hutto say they will not see much change, if any, Round Rock and other Texas cities are suing the Texas comptroller because the changes would have serious implications for its revenue. The rule change was slated to go into eect Oct. 1, but the 250th Civil District Court of Travis County on Aug. 31 issued an injunction prohibiting its implementation pending a nal hearinganticipated for summer 2022. The injunctioncamedue to an agreement between Round Rock and the comptroller. Should ocials decide the rule can go into eect, Jason Ball, Round Rock Chamber president and CEO, said it will also have a large impact on smaller businesses CONTINUED ON 30

IMPACTS

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What may be lost?

According to city ocials, possible consequences of the loss in sales tax revenue include reduced services oered and the consideration of an increase in property tax rates. City services that could be lost or reduced include:

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Area school districts require masks

Reduced funding for street maintenance

Reduced funding for amenities such as parks and recreation services and projects

Reduced funding for public safety

Possible increases to other means of revenue, such as property tax SOURCE: CITY OF ROUND ROCKCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

EDUCATION

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As housing costs rise, ocials focus on diversity of options

BY BRIAN RASH

“THE NEED FOR MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING HAS GROWN BECAUSE OF THE RISINGRENTS. ALSO, WE HAVE COVID19, WHERE PEOPLE HAVE

Matt McDonough bought his east Pugerville home in November for around $260,000. He later learned a similar home in his neighborhood now sells for $107,000 more than what he paid last year. He said he needed to stay in Puger- ville ISD because of his daughter, and if he waited longer he likely would not have fullled that desire. “I just looked in my neighborhood

DINING FEATURE

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LOST THEIR JOBS.” EBBY GREEN, ROUND ROCK HOUSING AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

CONTINUED ON XX The Trails at Carmel Creek oers low-income housing in Hutto. BRIAN RASHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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NONPROFITS

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2million residential mailboxes, and it grows eachmonth with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMAMY: In this edition, we decided to shine a light on the numerous local organizations devoted to our four-legged friends. Check out our guide to the area’s pet care industry as well as our feature on local pet-centered nonprots. Both provide ample information on pet care, adoption and various other animal-related topics. Amy Leonard Bryant, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMBRIAN: Housing has been a topic of much importance in Central Texas and beyond for the last several years. As property valuations increase, especially in the Round Rock, Pugerville and Hutto areas, so, too, does the need for more aordable housing options. In this edition, I take an in- depth look at the issue locally. Brian Rash, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon or relocating

COMPILED BY BROOKE SJOBERG

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Aspire Vision Care

Lone Star Kolaches

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SMYERS LN.

COMING SOON 7 Frontier Bank of Texas is expanding to 7509 O’Connor Drive, Round Rock. The Elgin-headquartered community bank is set to renovate an existing property to in- clude a customer lobby, drive-up banking, night deposit and ATM services. An open- ing date is not announced, but this will be the bank’s seventh location in addition to others in Elgin, Bastrop, Manor, Leander and Austin, which have opened since it was chartered in 2007. 512-281-1500. www.frontierbankoftexas.bank 8 Legacy Senior Residences II is com- ing to 1551 Red Bud Lane, Round Rock, in August 2022. Construction on the affordable senior housing development began in April. According to permitting information from the city of Round Rock, the development will include about 200 units of affordable senior housing with studio, one- and two-bedroom units in a three-story structure. www.legacysenior.com 9 Lone Star Kolaches is coming to the former location of Little Red Wagon Hamburgers at 1207 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, this October. Owners Massey and Allen Wallace own six other Lone Star Kolaches locations throughout the Greater Austin metro area, including in Pflugerville and north Austin. All of the bakery’s locations offer traditional sweet kolache pastries, egg kolaches and sausage kolaches. Other kolaches on the menu include barbecue, pizza roll, Philly cheesesteak and chicken quesadilla. www.lonestarkolaches.com 10 Rockler Woodworking and Hard- ware will open at 2701-A Parker Drive,

Round Rock, in the La Frontera Village shopping center in late September. The chain specializes in tools and woodwork- ing materials such as exclusive finishes and paints, and sells for cabinets, furni- ture and other do-it-yourself projects. According to the company’s website, it provides sustainable products and emphasizes recycling to support growth through the Harwood Forestry Project. www.rockler.com 11 Stanmore Warner Ranch will bring 336 high-end apartment units to 2607 S. A.W. Grimes Blvd., Round Rock, in late 2022. According to the developer, when the units are complete, they will be split among six buildings and be served by air-conditioned corridors, among other amenities. 713-335-1370. www.stanmorepartners.com RELOCATIONS 12 620 Studio LLC relocated to 203 E. Main St., Ste. 205, Round Rock, in July. The company, which was previously located at 306 W. Main St., offers web design and development services for its clients, including search engine optimi- zation, logo design, branding, and digital marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. 512-368-3691. www.620studio.com 13 Aspire Vision Care relocated its Round Rock location to 17261 Smyers Lane, Ste. 100, on July 26. Services offered at the new location include vision therapy, myopia control and comprehensive eye exams. Eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses are also available. 512-262-9692. www.aspirevisioncare.com

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NOWOPEN 1 Dutch Bros Coffee held a grand open- ing for its 1700 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Ste. 850, Round Rock, location July 23. The coffee chain offers hot and cold beverag- es, such as cold brew and frozen coffee as well as its own energy drink and muffins. 514-955-4700. www.dutchbros.com 2 Goodwill opened a new location in the Teravista area at 677 University Blvd., Round Rock, on July 8. The new store and donation center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday. This is the third Goodwill store to open in Round Rock. www.goodwillcentraltexas.org 3 Nail and lash care salon Pinky & Co Beauty Bar opened in mid-June in Round Rock. Located at 17220 N. RM 620, Ste. 115, the business offers manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions and more. Appointments can be booked online. 737-205-8003. www.pinkyandco.com 4 A grand opening for Shakim Creation

Hair Studio was held Aug. 22 inside Sa- lons by j.c. at 3021 S. I-35, Ste. 17, in the Round Rock Crossing Shopping Center. The business is owned by hairdresser Sha- ron Barrow, who specializes in afro-hair- dressing such as hair braiding, cornrows, extensions, weaves and dreadlocks, among other services. 737-203-0034. www.vagaro.com 5 The Sweet Tooth Parlor Bakery & Cafe , located at 808 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Ste 200, had a grand opening event June 26 in Round Rock. The menu offers fresh baked desserts, kolaches, pastries and more. 512 861-5100. www.thesweettoothparlor.com 6 Urban Turban opened at 4257 Gattis School Road, Round Rock, on July 3. The halal fusion food truck combines South Asian cuisine with Mexican and American items, such as its Turban Cheesesteak, chicken tikka cheesesteak, Birra’s Cousin Beef Tacos, Tandoori Tacos and others. 512-423-6199. https://the-urban- turban-halal-restaurant.business.site

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Little Ola’s Biscuits

Ritzy Skin Studio

LIMESTONE COMMERCIAL DR.

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ea store in the Stone Hill Town Center at 18700 Limestone Commercial Drive, Ste. 600, Pflugerville. Information from a late June news release states the store, which will take over the shopping center’s former Bealls location, is slated to open in November. www.havertys.com RELOCATIONS 4 Abacus Children’s Academy will move to a new location at 2300 Rowe Lane, Pflugerville, from its address at 1226 FM 685, Pflugerville, in October. Abacus offers education-focused child care with a broad and balanced curricu- lum for children ages 6 weeks old to 12 years old. 512-252-2704. 5 Farmhouse77 CustomWoodworks relocated Aug. 1 to 4701 Priem Lane, Ste. 5J, Pflugerville, from its previous

location at 4701 Priem Lane, Ste. 1A, Pflugerville. The business specializes in the creation of custom barn doors, cab- inets and electric fireplaces as well built- in bookshelves, desks and more. Pricing information is available online and on the business’s various social media accounts. 512-283-2875. Search Farmhouse77 Custom Woodworks LLC on Facebook and Instagram. 6 Ritzy Skin Studio on Aug. 9 relocated to 1513 Stone Hill Drive, Unit 100, Ste. 16, Pflugerville, from 1009 W. Pecan St., Bldg. 109, Ste. 6, Pflugerville. The business focuses on corrective skin care including acne and anti-aging and sells medical and pharmaceutical-grade skin care products. 512-670-8178. www.ritzyskincare.com

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PFLUGERVILLE NOWOPEN

2 Vapor Station , located at 14905 Dessau Road, Ste. 100, Pflugerville, opened June 1. The store sells a variety of products including vape devices; accessories; cannabidiol and other oils; and pipes, hookahs, vape starter kits and other merchandise. 512-969-3411. www.vaporstation.net COMING SOON 3 Home furnishing retailer Havertys announced it will open its third Austin-ar-

1 Southern kitchen Little Ola’s Biscuits opened July 16 at 14735 Bratton Lane, Austin, in the Wells Branch area of north Austin. Little Ola’s is operating as a takeout-only service, and orders can be placed online. The restaurant serves biscuit sandwiches, hand pies and more. www.instagram.com/littleolasbiscuits

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY MEGAN CARDONA, BRIAN RASH & BROOKE SJOBERG

2 A UPS store located inside the H-E-B at 5000 Gattis School Road, Ste. 100, Hutto, opened Aug. 9. The store offers shipping, print faxing, notary and packing services. UPS is a multinational shipping and receiving and supply chain manage-

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3 Updated information from Texas Backyard Structures states the busi- ness anticipates moving into its new location at 108 Binelli Drive, Hutto, this December. A representative from Texas Backyard Structures said construction of the new building is still in the permitting process. The outdoor home business is still conducting operations at 2031 CR 118, Hutto. Texas Backyard Structures specializes in outdoor playscapes, gaze- bos and pergolas. 512-989-9494. www.texasbackyardstructures.com EXPANSIONS 4 The Simple Sparrow Care Farm is ex- panding to include a neighboring 2-acre property at 1601 CR 107, Hutto. On the property is a 4,000-square-foot house, which will be known as The Bird House, where in-house therapy and counseling will be offered for clients through a trau- ma informed care model of therapeutics and outdoor education. Simple Sparrow

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resources; and meeting food, health, housing and transportation needs.

was founded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit or- ganization in 2017 by Jamie Tanner, who purchased the farm as a farming hobbyist in 2013. 512-677-9102. www.simplesparrow.farm IN THE NEWS United Way for Greater Austin and Unit- ed Way of Williamson County announced Aug. 5 that they will merge, combining their 10-county Central Texas service region. The combined organization will continue its mission of combatting pov- erty in the Austin area under the United Way for Greater Austin name. It expects to “upgrade, update and strengthen” its programs, which focus on bolstering the financial security of families with young children; providing children with learning

BENELLI DR.

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5 The Hutto ISD Ninth Grade Center shared a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house event with the community Aug. 5. Located at 301 Hutto St., Hutto, the new facility reached “substantial completion” July 31, according to Baird and Williams Construction President Britt Williams. The campus opened on Aug. 17. It was funded by the district’s remaining $54 million of 2008 bond money, with $48.51 million designated for the con- struction budget and remaining funds set aside for services not related to construc- tion. 512-759-3771. www.hipponation.org

HUTTO NOWOPEN 1 Austin-based Tiff’s Treats opened its new Hutto location in August at 210 Ed Schmidt Blvd. in the Hanson’s Cor- ner development. Tiff’s Treats is known for delivering warm baked cookies and brownies and was originally founded in 1999 in Austin. 512-838-3080. www.cookiedelivery.com

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

We are coming together for an annual community-wide day of service!

SATURDAY, OCT. 23, 2021 8 A.M. – NOON On Saturday, Oct. 3, we are calling volunteers to serve our community by doing projects at various Round Rock ISD schools, parks and neighborhoods in partnership with the Round Rock Neighborhood team and the Round Rock Fire Department. Family friendly projects range from painting and planting to neighborhood cleanups and fire safety surveys.

Families serve together. All are welcome. Sign up now! Visit www.lovetherock.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

September events

COMPILED BY BRIAN RASH & BROOKE SJOBERG

25 SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS AT THE POPUP ART SHOW More than a dozen local and regional artists will be featured in a pop-up art show in downtown Round Rock’s Prete Plaza. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Prete Plaza, 221 E. Main St., Round Rock. 512-218-5400. www.roundrocktexas.gov 25 CATCH THE TEXAS BAD CATS AT MUSIC IN THE PARK Part of the limited concert series Music in the Park, the Austin-based Texas Bad Cats will play a two-hour set in Puger Park that includes hits from the ‘60s to present day . Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and picnic blankets. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Puger Park, 515 City Park Road, Pugerville. 512-990-6113. www.parks.pugervilletx.gov 25 THROUGH26 CHECKOUT CLASSIC CARS, FINE ART, BEER ANDMUSIC The Austin Music & Arts Festival is bringing classic cars, contemporary ne art displays, performances from national recording artists, food and beer to Typhoon Texas. Children under 12 are admitted free with admission of adults. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. both days. $12-$24 admission. Typhoon Texas, 18500 SH 130, Pugerville. [email protected] www.eventbrite.com

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Round Rock Parks and Recreation will bring its annual Family Campout to Old Settlers Park. Required registration is available on the city’s website, and participants must provide their own equipment. 3:30 p.m. (Sept. 17)- 11 a.m. (Sept. 18). $10. Old Settlers Park, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. 512-218-5540 www.roundrocktexas.gov

The Pugerville Public Library will host a virtual event centered on updating readers on new and upcoming adult ction, nonction and graphic novels. Anyone age 18 and older may register online for the event. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free. Pugerville Public Library, 1008 W. Puger St., Pugerville. 512-990-6375. www.library.pugervilletx.gov

15 GET A TASTE OF HUTTO The Hutto Farmers Market will feature local farmers with fresh produce and plants as well as artisans and crafters selling a range of handmade items from soap to baked goods. In addition to local vendors, the event will feature music, a bounce house and more. The family- friendly event is organized and hosted by Love Yourself Shack, a holistic and alternative health service spa. 5-8 p.m. Free. 208 East St., Hutto. 512-966-4664. www.loveyourselfshack.com

15 PLAY GOLFWITHHUTTO POLICE OFFICERS Guests will tee o at the rst golf tournament held by the Hutto Police Ocer Association. The tournament will benet local charities of the HPOA and the Hutto Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association. Registration and range begin at 6:45 a.m. Check-in begins at 7 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. Prices vary. The Golf Club at Star Ranch, 2500 FM 685, Hutto. www.huttopoa.com

SEPTEMBER 06 TAKE INA LABOR DAY CONCERT Prete Plaza in Round Rock will be the site of a Labor Day concert featuring musical groups The Belltower Trio and Floyd Domino and Friends. 6:30 p.m. Free. Prete Main Street Plaza, 221 E. Main St.,

Round Rock. 512-218-5400. www.roundrocktexas.gov

Find more or submit events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY BRIAN RASH & BROOKE SJOBERG

Arterial road improvements coming toRoundRock

COMPLETED PROJECT

A.W. GRIMES BLVD.

BY BRIAN RASH

Forest Creek Drive

Jerey Way

Parts of Hesters Crossing Road, Jerey Way, Paloma Drive, Old Settlers Boulevard, Mays Street and Forest Creek Drive are set to benet from the city of Round Rock’s 2021 street maintenance program. A $3.3 million contract was approved by City Council on Aug. 12 to make minor concrete repairs to damaged curbs, gutters and side- walks along these roadways as well as lay 2 inches of mill and overlay. The contract executed by the city was through Texas-based company Texas Materials, which supplies concrete, ll dirt and other materials to be used for the paving and repair of roads. Annual maintenance to city roads from the transportation department is necessary upkeep for the more than 1,200 miles of public roadway managed by the city of Round Rock. Streets are monitored by the trans- portation department and repaired yearly when needed in order to “preserve and improve” roadways, according to the city. In recent years, the city has designated $4 million annually to fund improvements to residential streets. In the nine

TWIN RIDGE PKWY.

PALOMA DR.

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Logan Street connection project complete in Round Rock The Logan Street connection project, which extended Logan to intersect with A.W. Grimes Blvd., ocially opened to the public Aug. 13. Improvements to the thoroughfare from the project include a two-lane bridge over the Turtle Creek Tributary, connection of the Heritage Springs Trail to Logan and sidewalks on both sides of Logan in that section, accord- ing to the city of Round Rock. Public input for the project was gathered by the city beginning in 2018 with the road extension for Greenlawn to A.W. Grimes started in June 2020. Timeline: completed Cost: $2 million Funding source: Round Rock Type B sales tax revenue

JEFFREY WAY

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Hesters Crossing Road

Mays Street

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D .

35

LA FRONTERA BLVD.

45 TOLL

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Old Settlers Boulevard

years since the street maintenance program began in 2012, more than 35 neighborhoods have had their streets repaired at a total price tag of about $30 million, according to information from the city. Timeline: early fall 2021-early 2022 Cost: $3.3 million Funding source: city of Round Rock

ONGOING PROJECT

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TONKAWA TRAIL

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Plan revised for East Pecan Street

Second phase of University Boule- vard widening project in Round Rock Construction is expected to cause trac delays for those using the road during peak hours. The second phase began July 18, and it will precipitate trac delays through its completion in 2022. When nished in early 2023, Univer- sity Boulevard will be six lanes from the Sunrise Road intersection through I-35, with dual turning lanes at the intersection of Oakmont Drive and Mays Street and University. A route connecting to Oakmont has also been added to the back of the University Oaks Shopping Center. Timeline: spring 2021-late 2022/ early 2023 Cost: $11.1 million Funding source: Round Rock $240 million Driving Progress Trans- portation Plan

Lane widening

Hooded left L

X No left turn

Changes underway

Plans to widen East Pecan Street include adding a hooded, or protected left turn inti Sun Light Near Way from eastbound Pecan Street and removing a left turn option from out of and into Impact Way.

BY BRIAN RASH

L

Developers and other stakeholders have revised construction plans for the East Pecan Street and SH 130 improvement project in Pugerville that will add a median from SH 130 to Biltmore Avenue and widen Pecan. The plans allow for a double left-turn lane for northbound Biltmore Avenue trac turning onto westbound Pecan due to increased trac volume at that intersection. According to information from the city of Pugerville, the revised design includes a hooded, or protected left-turn lane for westbound trac on Pecan to turn left at Sunlight Near Way. Left turns from Sunlight Near Way and Impact Way to Pecan will no longer be allowed. Once construction completes,

130 TOLL

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plans state trac will only be right in-out from Impact Way onto East Pecan. City information states construction is anticipated to begin the week of Sept. 7. As part of the work, eastbound Pecan will be temporarily reduced to one lane from Biltmore to the SH 130 frontage road. Construction will also allow for the preservation of at least two access points at all times among Biltmore, Sun Light Near and Impact. Construction is anticipated

to last four weeks, weather and other factors permitting. Deputy City Manager Trey Fletcher said over the last few weeks project developers have been working with the city, various stakeholders and the Texas Department of Transportation to nalize plans. Timeline: possibly Sept. 7-TBD Cost: $2.05 million Funding source: developer funded

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF AUG. 30. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT RRKNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Developments underway in the Hutto & Round Rock area

219-home rental community coming toHutto Adding to the diversity of housing options in the rapidly growing city of Hutto, officials have approved a new 219-home community to move forward. T.C. Selman, vice president of parcel of land, and that plan will go through planning and zoning and other necessary city departments before moving forward toward construction. Selman said the community, 1660 BY BRIAN RASH

Foundation for newRoundRock library poured

BY BROOKE SJOBERG

Construction crews on Aug. 19 began pouring the foundation slab for the new Round Rock Public Library at 200 E. Liberty Ave. The foundation will support a three-story, 66,000-square-foot library and parking garage capable of holding up to 300 cars. The $23.2 million project is expected to be completed in early 2023, and it will replace the current library. It is still unclear what will become of that facility once the project is complete.

which will be located at 1616 CR 137, Hutto, will also be a viable option for people wanting to leave apartment complexes. “Hopefully we’ll get the project started in late spring or early summer of 2022,” Selman said. The rental community will come with a variety of options, including two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, but Selman said he cannot yet say what rental rates will be for residents because final costs will not be set until early 2022. “We’re looking at rents that will be slightly higher than a multifamily project will have,” he said, but added residents will have no responsibility for any interior or exterior mainte- nance, including landscaping. The addition of the Aspen Heights

Aspen Heights Partners, said the new community will be company’s first fully rentable single-family home community. City Council initially approved the development Aug. 5 during a first reading of the plan. The project was approved officially during a second reading Aug. 19. “What it does, it allows individuals that are pushed out of market right now because of the high, high cost of purchasing a single-family home,” Selman said. “It will give them the option to rent or lease a … private home with a detached, full garage, private yard and all the amenities they would normally have.” Selman said his company is now working on platting the 36-acre

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project is one part of an overarching initiative from the city of Hutto to diversify housing options for its rapidly growing population, said Stacy Schmitt, assistant to the city manager in Hutto. “We want to make sure that as we’re trying to work prospects and bring in these new businesses, that we have the right housing product for the people who may work in this manufacturing plant, or who may work for the East Williamson County Higher Education [Center],” Schmitt said. “So, we need that diversity of product.”

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ROUND ROCK EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

EDUCATION

News from Round Rock, Pugerville and Hutto ISDs

Local school districts implement temporarymaskmandates

RRISD The board of trustees voted to remove the opt-out policy of its mask mandate for district students Aug. 24 following a ve-hour meeting with half of that open for public comment. The original mandate went into eect Aug. 17 and included a provi- sion that allowed parents to opt their children out of their policy, which the board discussed again Aug. 24. Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez asked the board to require documen- tation of a medical or developmental exception to mask wearing for both students and sta, with masks provided on campus. The mandate’s expiration date of Sept. 17 is still in place. Other aspects of the man- date, such as the removal of masks for athletics and ne arts, remain unchanged. The amended mandate went into eect Aug. 26. District parent Sarah Harrelson on

ROUND ROCK, PFLUGERVILLE, HUTTO ISDS Amid a turbulent August that saw debate over mask mandates spiral into heated argu- ments, Round Rock, Pugerville and Hutto ISDs decided to enforce the policy. At RRISD, more than 200 people who were for and against the man- date waited for hours to speak their minds to the board of trustees at a pair of meetings Aug. 16 and 24. Protests against a mask mandate culminated at an Aug. 16 PfISD meeting the day after the district sent an email to sta and parents stating it would be enforcing the policy. HISD implemented its mask mandate policy during an Aug. 19 emergency meeting, and several people addressed the board regarding the policy during an Aug. 25 meeting. BY CARSON GANONG, BRIAN RASH & BROOKE SJOBERG

People wait to speak at an Aug. 16 Pugerville ISDmeeting.

BRIAN RASHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

PfISD Students, sta and visitors at PfISD are now required to wear masks inside all district facilities. While previously only strongly encouraged by PfISD, district ocials on Aug. 15 made the decision to man- date mask wearing following reports from Aug. 13 that 345th District Court Judge Jan Soifer granted a temporary restraining order to block Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates in school for students and educators. “At this time, in anticipation of the court order, this new action means masks will be required for students,

Aug. 24 spoke against the removal of the opt-out policy, saying that her 9-year-old son and her other children who are eighth and ninth grade students had told her that the masks “make it hard to breathe.” “As a school district, we’re going along with what is popular; we are going along with what everybody else is doing,” Harrelson said. “That’s not what we teach our kids to do.” Several speakers also asked for exceptions to the mask mandate to be based on a person’s medical need—a stipulation that was not required under the mandate approved by the school board Aug. 17.

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