Tuesday, members of the Williamson County Commissioners Court made a formal request for the city to hold off for 180 days. It’s because they learned about this project a few days ago.
The motion to hit the brakes was made by Commissioner Cynthia Long. "My hope is that the city of Austin will hear what we said and it’s an ask to work with your neighbors," said Cynthia Long, Williamson County Commissioner for precinct 2
Residence and business owners near the hotel say they were also blindsided by the city plan. "I think it would be important to have the public to have input to help out affect their neighborhoods," said a woman who lives near the hotel.
Those who attended Tuesday’s meeting asked county officials to step in and help. "As Williamson County judge I’m deeply disappointed and that someone did not communicate with this court prior to the decisions they made," said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.
The unanimous vote to make an official request for a 180-day pause was celebrated as a big step — but not a win.
"Yes finally, it should’ve been City of Austin‘s job to listen to its constituents but apparently at least, I’m so thankful for Williamson County to be present for us out here," said Rupal Chaudhari, who works next to Candlewood Suites
The goal is to convince the city to do an economic impact study; similar to what the city requires private developers to do. Residents believe the study will show that property values will collapse and businesses will close.
"Freda I think has about 50 employees we have about 20 at one hotel and the next hotel will have about 30 so that’s hundreds of jobs impacted just right there," said Sanjay Chaudhari, the Hampton Inn & Suites General manager which is next door to Candlewood.
Williamson County commissioners questioned why the city chose a northwest Austin site for its homeless hotel idea after a similar plan for a South Austin site failed last year. They also want to know more about how the city will address transportation issues, security, as well as what type of social programs will be provided; and where the funding for that will come from.
"Actually it’s not weighing in on the proposal at all because quite frankly I don’t know enough about the proposal to be for or against it I’m simply asking and I think the commissioners' court is asking to work with the county to work at the school district to work with the surrounding neighbors to talk about this," said Long.
If the city ignores the county request, commissioners sent another message. They’re willing to explore all options in order to have their concerns addressed.