The County Can’t What?
Who decides the fate of land use in unincorporated Comal County?
It isn’t who you think.
Find out who does at “Local Control Options for Hill Country Counties,” a public forum scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels.
The meeting is sponsored by League of Women Voters, Comal Area (LWVCA) and Greater Edwards Aquifier Alliance (GEAA), and Preserve Our Hill Country Environment. They think there are ways fast-growing Hill Country counties can assert more control over incompatible land uses and other impacts of development even though Comal County commissioners say they lack comprehensive zoning authority to stop or oversee controversial projects like Vulcan Quarry.
“It’s a well-known fact that Texans hold fast and true to their rights as private property owners, and property owners generally have the right to develop and use their property in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations,” says Annalisa Peace, the GEAA’s executive director. “But what happens when the federal, state or local laws and regulations lend themselves to land fragmentation and degradation? What are land owners to do when their neighbor’s business causes concerns about long term health and safety, with little to no recourse except through expensive nuisance lawsuits? How do you as a land owner protect your property value when your neighbor is allowed by law to compromise it?”
Adds Jensie Madden, land use chair for LWVCA: “LWV-CA’s mission is to encourage informed citizen participation in government. We want to alert residents to the limited powers that county government currently has, and inform them about possible new powers that could be part of legislation considered by our state officials.”
Topics to be discussed at the forum include:
- Why is county authority needed for land-use decisions?
- ‘Tools’ elected county cmmissioners could use to manage development and incompatible land use in unincorporated areas of fast-growing counties.
Introductory remarks provided by Carter Casteel, former Comal County judge who also served in the District 73 seat in Texas House of Representatives.
There, she introduced legislation regarding more local control for counties.
LWV-CA’s Bonnie Leitch will moderate a question-and-answer session following the presentations.
“This public forum will provide residents with information about what measures you and your elected officials can take to preserve our beloved Hill Country,” Peace says. “Learn about what local control is versus what it is not.
“Help preserve your Texas Hill Country now because it’s the only one we will ever have.”
The problem with granting Comal County Commissioners Court with a whole new bevy of controlling powers is for one… who will they deem to use them on??? The County already has public nuisance laws ( such as tall grass, smoke, loud noises, pest infested area of property owners), prohibition of nudity bars, requirement for commercial construction in the County ( per the adopted fire code) and some other protections they can use a what is referred to as ‘tools’. Hunting has to be on a minimum number of acres. However, it would be totally up to County Commissioners if they would use the extra county authority to stop a certain type of development… or would the Commissioners merely grant a variance. It is already troubling that the Commissioner Court could have adopted a Resolution denouncing the proposed rock quarry… but County Commissioners seemed to have embraced the propose Rock Quarry and all the contaminated dust that will be spewing forth from the quarry as County Commissioners utterly REFUSED to adopt such resolution. Even after hundreds of people spoke against the quarry. If County Commissioners are picking who they support now… even with more powers, Commissioners will still pick and choose who to use their proposed newfound authority against. Lets take a close look at those who support taking away property rights,,, much less use this current quarry controversy in order to gain more authority over property owners. It would be the Comal Commissioners dream come true for them to be able to stop all of the MOM and POP type development. Then every part of the County would have high dollar $300,000.00 homes and up on tiny little lots, what Comal County calls ‘cluster developments’. Comal County has a water availability requirement,,, however when I requested such document for some of the newer developments… the County said that had no records of such for these newer subdivisions. Water has to be coming from somewhere for all these new home in the 2nd fasted growing county in the nation… so where is the document/proof from the water purveyor for the new subdivisions that these subdivisions will have water for the next 20 years. If the County isn’t enforcing this REQUIREMENT on developers and their water purveyors… then trusting the County Commissioners with more authority should draw a big QUESTION MARK in every property owner’s mind. That one subdivision right outside the city of NB that ran out of water last year. The current water purveyor blamed heavy water usage was sucking those water wells dry. Now it looks like the City of New Braunfels will be furnishing water via a new pipeline being installed. So much for planning.