As a result of the population boom in Kyle, Buda and San Marcos, traditionally small farming towns in east Hays County could start to feel growing pains, too.
Towns such as Uhland, whose recent growth began in 2013 with the Cotton Gin Estates housing development, can expect their population to double or triple within the next five to ten years, according the city’s official website.
“It’s definitely accelerated,” said Richard Crandal, Niederwald city planner. “People move out here to avoid the city and the high prices that come with it.”
Crandal, a Mustang Ridge resident, has lived in the area for 23 years and observed how the rising populations of bigger cities have trickled into smaller towns like Niederwald and Uhland.
While pleased with these developments as a city planner, Crandal shared his concerns that some residents may not be happy with the changes.
“There’re folks that have lived out here 20 or 30 years to escape the city, but it’s still chasing us down,” Crandal said.
Niederwald’s city council has recently approved five subdivisions with the largest adding 141 homes to the area; the smallest is only adding 12. More than 370 homes have sprung up in Niederwald in the last year.
In 2014, Walton Development, a Canadian-based land investment group, amassed land in the eastern part of Hays County and the western part of Caldwell county for a slew of proposed developments.
One of those is Caldwell Valley, a proposed 3,600-plus acre mixed-use master planned development just outside of Uhland and Lockhart. According to a Caldwell Valley brochure on the city of Uhland’s website, the development could have neighborhood retail, office space, single-family residential units, as well as sites for schools and parks.
Camino Real, also a proposed Walton development, is a 1,700-plus acre development near Niederwald.
However, locals fear the history and identity of smaller towns may be in jeopardy.
Michelle Hams, a 20-year resident of Niederwald, believes historical sites that once dotted the area, including a historic cotton gin, have been whittled down over the last few years.
“This is farewell to a small town,” said Hams. She voiced her concerns that the landmarks and history of the town are being torn down and forgotten for residential development and economic gain.
Hams is afraid that trying to accelerate growth in Niederwald is stripping the town of its identity and its legacy.
“It’s such a rapidly growing community that the old part of Niederwald is gone,” Hams said.
Despite the growing concern, the course for growth in the surrounding areas remains a constant.
In Kyle, Howard Koontz, community development director, said the city works to keep an eye on what’s happening in the eastern part of the county.
“To some extent we pay attention to it, we’re aware of it but we don’t plan for it,” said Howard Koontz, Kyle director of planning, ”We remain cognizant of the situation.”