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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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June 5, 2003     Hays Free Press
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June 5, 2003
 

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Page 2 The Free Press Current Events June 5, 2003 Carter pushes county moratorium, but courts may not agree BY DANIEL t,ICHAEL Staff Writer Susie Carter mischaracterized his advice in a local newspaper arti- cle regarding a proposed morato- rium on county subdivision plats. In the May 31 edition of the San Marcos Daily Record, Carter said Hudson supported the idea of Hays County instituting some OUNTY-In a letter to Hays County Judge Jim Powers, Austin subdivision attorney J. Greg Hudson of Austin said Pct. 2 Hays County Commissioner Hays County Commissioner Susie Carter of Pct. 2, center, proposed a moratorium on subdivision development during Tuesday's commis- sioner's court meeting. The commissioners flatly rejected Carter's idea, which was a moot- point anyway because the court does not have the authority to impose such a moratorium. Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe is on the left. (photo by Daniel Michael) kind of building moratorium as a curb against growth. However, Hudson told Powers that he has reservations about the idea. "To be clear, I have concerns regarding the county's legal authority to enact a moratorium as there are no provisions in the Texas statutes which expressly authorize counties to enact devel- opment moratoriums," Hudson said in his letter to Powers. Undaunted, Carter suggested that the county impose a morato- rium on subdivision plats during Tuesday's Hays County Commissioner's Court. A mora- torium would allow the county more time to rewrite its subdivi- sion regulations in a more effi- cient and effective manner. Liberty and Comal Counties are the only two counties in Texas to have enacted moratoriums, Hudson said. Comal County was sued after enacting a moratorium. However, the case was dismissed before it went to trial. "In that case, the developer obtained an injunction against the county's moratorium, but the trial judge stayed the effective date of the injunction for a period he thought necessary to allow the county's subdivision committee to complete its work," Hudson said. Hudson added that the county would more than likely to lose at trial if it enacted a temporary ban on development. During Tuesday's commis- sioners court meeting, Carter pointed out that several cities including Kyle, Buda and Sunset Valley, had moratoriums at one time. Kyle has extended its resi- dential development moratorium three times since enacting it in March 2002. Pct. 3 Commissioner Bill Burnett said counties and cities are vastly different, and that counties do not have the authori- ty to impose moratoriums. Bumett said people think the county already moves too slow on approving plats. "I think we are the vanguard," he said. "I don't think the sky is falling." Powers, Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe and Pct. 4 Commissioner Russ Molenaar were againstthe idea on the basis that a county moratorium is ille- gal and the county cannot afford to fight a legal action over the issue. "I get emotional when we tell people they cannot move to our county," Powers said. "If the law says we can't, why are you (Carter) saying we can?" "We would lose in court," Ingalsbe said. "And I'm tired of paying lawyers' fees." The county is in the process of revising subdivisions regula- tions, which have not been updat- ed since 1999. According to Carter, develop- ers are already asking that their subdivision plats be given pre- liminary approval so that they can be "grandfathered" under current subdivision rules. Although a county moratori- um on development would prob- ably not hold up in court, a lenghthy trial could be used as a delay tactic to slow development until the county has had time to draft revisions of its subdivision regulations. Hays county Director of Environmental Health Alan Walther presented a preliminary draft of the new revisions to the county officials several weeks ago. Many county officials believe the modifications will strength county authority. Bumett said the regulations are some of the strictest in the state and that Senate Bill 873, passed two years ago by the state legislature, gives counties more authority to regulate platting and subdivision of land. Lyle Bollinger, a resident of northeast Hays County said, "There are so many subdivisions going up in northeast Hays County. We are going to have a really run-down county." Bollinger estimated that a large development in the county near Buda and Kyle called Big Sky Ranch could end up packing nine homes to an acre. "That could be a ghetto," Bollinger said. 0 ly t e commissioners know for sure When is an open meeting not an open meeting? BY DANIEL MICHAEL Staff Writer OUNTY-The Hays County Commissioners Court voted to advertise meetings of its Subdivision Rule Change Committee in local newspapers, but decided not to post the committee's meetings as Open Meetings. The committee is extremely important because it provides a forum for stakeholders, interest groups and citizens to give input regarding development regulations. Director of Environmental Health Alan Walther said the committee will meet after Gov. Rick Perry signs legislation from the just-ended legislative session changing county powers over subdivision regulation. The commissioners will hand pick three delegates to serve on the committee to review the proposed subdivision regulations. The same 15 members won't be at every meeting, said Pct. 2 Commissioner Susie Carter, because the various committee members will work on separate topics. "The committee will be made up of sev- eral types of stakeholders...They might have property owners, technical engineers or citi- zens-at-large .(depending on the meeting)," Carter said. Carter is concerned that the meetings be held to the Texas Open Meetings Act, particu- larly if the commissioners court is going to rubber stamp the committee's recommenda- tions. The Open Meetings Act requires that meetings be posted 72 hours in advance, and that a quorum of its members and a county clerk be present. "Citizens of our county are very interest- ed and concerned whether Hays County will take action to better protect them and the Hays County countryside against efforts to develop our county in a haphazard and irresponsible manner," Carter said. "Open meetings will allow everyone the opportunity to observe and understand the process and the product that result from this committee that is of significant importance to the community." While all the commissioners agree that the workshop should be advertised, Carter inisted that they fall under the umbrella of the open meetings act. San Marcos resident Jim Green told the court that "any- thing that has an affect on the county should be open, there is no place for secret meetings." Open Meetings? pg. 6 CouJ ty offers state $$$ for road improvements Staff Writer "4 OUNTY-Hays County Judge Jim Powers and Pct. 3 Commissioner Bill Burnett said they were pleased with their May 29 prese.ntation to the Texas Transportation Commission in Austin. The overture was made in an effort to secure $36 million in state funds to improve and expand state roads within Hays County. Powers said the county should receive a decision from the com- mission sometime in September. The ,,Texas -Transportation Commiss9 ,i, tr governing body ofthe Texas ,rlrI'trnent of Transpo/'tation (TxDOT)'.' The Hays County officials hoped to entice TxDOT to com- plete the county's road projects in a timely manner. Of course, noth- ing is free. As an incentive to make TxDOT move faster, the county offered $9.2 million from a $47 million road bond that was passed in 2001. Burnett said, "We believe there are three of seven projects that can be ready...before fiscal year, 2007." Acca0rding to :Burtt, the fast, ;ka,,,, " f '. I   vroje00r e00din00 U;S,!: Hwy. 29qfrrn the'Trais Cour/ty'i line to;'pping Springs with a two-way turn lane (to make a five- lane section) with appropriate shoulders. The second project is to expand RM 12 west from San Marcos to FM 32 to four lanes with shoulders. The third project Bumett pushed, and the project of most interest locally, concerns a section of FM 1626 from the Travis County line to FM 967, then FM 967 from FM 1626 to the Onion Creek bridge. ,:,,,... ........ ,,,, t's js another .eapansioa to foar tomes but Wfith a 9enter, turn laneandeurb and gutters compris- ing portions of two Farm to Market highways in Northern Hays County," Burnett said. "This corridor passes through one of the fastest growing areas in the state and this growth and asso- ciated development is expected to continue as the Austin Metro con- tinues to grow," he said. It is becoming a common practice for counties to offer money to TxDOT to convince the department to push state road pro- NEW AGENT AIR CONDITIONING HEATING INSULATION SOLAR SCREENS * 6 Months Same as Cash * FREE Energy Audit * Up to $t200 Cash Back in Rebates * Air Conditioning, Heating, Insulation, Solar Screens * Same Day Service for Air Conditioning & Heating 440-O123 O 858-9595 Dripping jects forward .............. '! ;iBumett said he likes the coun- ty's :chances of getting the go- ahead. He said some of the coun- ties had asked for quite a bit more money than Hays County but did not offer TxDOT any matching dollars. The county decided to set aside $21 million of the $47 mil- lion bond for state projects. Due to the state's budget shortfall, the coar0j'ssioners.felt an offering, wouldbe.the best Way to secure fund from the cash strapped agency. 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