Kyle dais, staff miscue downs rural development ordinance

Miscommunication between Kyle city leaders and city staff has resulted in a recently failed agenda item to potentially make a return to the city council dais. 

The item in question centers on conflicting subdivision standards in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

Howard Koontz, Kyle community development director, said in an emailed response the city had two sections in its code of ordinances that dealt with rural subdivision regulations.

One section said lots in Kyle’s ETJ must have a minimum of one acre, which comes out to 43,560 square feet; a second section called for lots to be as small as 20,000 square feet, with pre-approval from Hays County.

“Staff sought to amend the language to remove the conflict, and instead make the city’s minimum lot size one acre, which is the more restrictive of the two code sections in question,” Koontz said in an emailed response.

But the intent was lost in translation after the Kyle city council denied changes to the ordinance Sept. 19. The reason was the appearance that the city could have allowed lot sizes that were only a half-acre.

District 1 council member Travis Mitchell, one of four city council members to have voted against the measure originally, said he initially denied the changes as it could have led to an influx of dense development in the ETJ.

Mitchell said dense development far out from the city’s center “puts strain on infrastructure,” which could include extra traffic on roads, and, potentially, utilities.

He also wanted to avoid “cookie cutter dense developments” on septic systems. Mitchell said staff is working along the line of “making our ordinances clear” and that the city is “holding development to a higher standard” in the ETJ.

“My belief is rural lots should be exactly that. Rural. Not dense subdivisions far away from city centers,” Mitchell said.

Webster said the changes were necessary, as the city could face potential litigation if someone challenges the conflicting ordinances. Specifically, it could be possible for someone to raise legal questions on whether the city could deny half-acre lots with inferior septic systems.

Webster said he was surprised the proposed changes initially failed, but wasn’t shocked by the concern from other council members.

However, Webster supported the initial vote as he felt the changes would have helped improve development standards, especially with septic systems.

“I’d rather have twice as many lots on advanced septic than half as many with inferior septic systems,” Webster said.

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