Prepare the Bat-Signal: Subdivision Plan Encroaches on Globally Significant Preserve
Published: May 22, 2013
“I just don’t see how they could put that many homes in under our water quality ordinance,” she said. “We’re all wondering how, exactly, they plan to do this.” Gene Dawson, the engineer for the project, did not return a call for comment Monday.
The San Antonio Water System Board approved sewer and water hookups for the development at its March 11 meeting. At least one SAWS board member is asking that SAWS rescind that vote, saying the board wasn’t given all the necessary information when it approved extending SAWS coverage.
In a letter he wrote to the GEAA last week, SAWS board member Sam Luna explains the board wasn’t told the proposed subdivision was located in Comal County. In addition, board members were never told “that Crescent Hills is also known as Comal County Special Improvement District No. 1,” created by the Lege in 2007 by Senate Bill 2008, which was authored by then-State Sen. Jeff Wentworth. (Further research shows Luna was off by one session. Wentworth’s 2007 bill got stuck in committee. He revived the bill and passed it in 2009.)
“This bill was carefully tailored to accommodate Galo Properties and its proposed planned subdivisions,” Luna wrote. While that state law directs Comal County to create its own water and wastewater facility, to be known as the “Comal County Water Improvement District No. 1,” board members were told the burden for water and sewer hookups fell to SAWS.
“Based on this disclosure, there is no need to provide SAWS water into Comal County, “ Luna wrote.
Along with circulating an online petition (which by Monday had garnered over 6,000 signatures), bat conservationists last week called for supporters to put pressure on City Hall, thinking the City’s Planning Commission would have to approve the Crescent Hills master plan.
It’s not clear if that’s true, since the site sits within the City’s ETJ and Comal County. John Jacks with the City’s Development Services Department told the Current that COSA and Comal County have an inter-local agreement that pushes responsibility to the City if a development has average lot sizes less than 0.4 acres. Anything above that is Comal County’s responsibility, he said, adding that Galo has yet to file anything with City planning.
Bat conservationists say City leaders they’ve contacted continue to tell them Crescent Hills is not COSA’s responsibility. “We’ve been amazed by the Texas two-step we’re getting,” said BCI conservation director Mylea Bayless. “Comal county is telling us they don’t’ have jurisdiction over what happens there, while the City of San Antonio has told us that it’s not in their purview to make these decisions.”
GEAA’s Peace said she worries Galo may be trying to sidestep aquifer protections by going to Comal County — which doesn’t mandate the strict aquifer protections that COSA does — instead of the City’s Planning Commission. “The City is totally empowered to enforce its aquifer protections in this case,” she told the Current. “And if they’re taking a pass on this, they’re handing that developer a giant Christmas present.”
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