Subdivision notice error leads to confusion in Dripping Springs

What started as a discussion on logistics of a new proposed subdivision in Dripping Springs turned into debate on an error in the public notice associated with the project.

As a result, Dripping Springs officials inevitably postponed a decision on the subdivision until they place the new public notice into their paper of record. 

Issues centered on the notice for the Esperanza Subdivision, originally proposed in 2017, but eventually dwindled when the developer did not finish the administrative processes.

With the backing of a new developer, officials with the subdivision plan to bring 104 residential lots at .75 acres each. However, the density has neighboring property owners worried.

Over a dozen of the residents bordering the proposed subdivision, located along Bell Springs Road and south of Harmon Hills Road, shared concerns over density and traffic.

“We’ve seen an increase of traffic on Harmon Hills and we are concerned with the addition of 107 homes, which could be around 200 cars,” said Kathy Boydston, a Dripping Springs resident. “We ask that you consider lowering that number. These roads are too rural.”

Residents shared their thoughts on the roads’ ability to handle large amounts of traffic, calling for the council to take action on the state of the roads.

But city officials said the city never was responsible for the maintenance of the roads. Both Harmon Hill and Bell Springs fall under Hays County’s jurisdiction.

“Bell Springs is not cut out for this and it’s ridiculously dangerous,” said Dripping Springs resident Mark Striker. “Traffic has increased around 40 percent with all the new development, and now you’re throwing an extra 200 cars out there. This needs to be reconsidered just on that basis.”

Mayor Todd Purcell said he is scheduled to meet with newly elected Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner Walt Smith and will discuss those issues. 

Council member Travis Crow said the city is not responsible for maintaining the roads.

“No one wants to hear our hands are tied, but they are,” Crow said. “The status of the roads is a county issue, not a city one.”

However, residents said there are multiple signs on the road that indicates where county maintenance starts and ends, stirring confusion on who is actually responsible.

Ultimately, city leaders said they had no basis to deny the preliminary plat for the Esperanza Subdivision as it was in compliance with city ordinances. 

But officials said the public notice for the subdivision mistakenly said the property was located in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which kickstarted a conversation on the transparency of the public process.

Purcell argued that residents are aware that the city has limited governance in its ETJ, which according to the public notice, could have kept people from appearing before the council and sharing their thoughts on the project.

Purcell said the preliminary plat for the project would be approved, but advocated for the public notice to be “correct.”

“That’s the start of the whole process. You’re notifying people what’s going on, and if you don’t want to be correct if it’s in the ETJ or city limits, don’t state that (in the notice),” Purcell said.

Council member Taline Manassian said residents might not be inclined to attend the meeting if the notice indicated the property was in the ETJ, which was concerning to her.

Dripping Springs resident Mark McConaughey, who also harbored concerns about the notice, said the city should clarify if dates and other information are wrong.

“And I say that at the same time, I say the outcome here will not change,” said Manassian. “It is only being delayed if we re-notice this. So, I don’t want anyone walking out here thinking that anything else is going to happen if 10 or 100 more people walk in the door and say ‘we have a problem with this plat…’”

City staff officials noted that the application was submitted verbatim as the one in 2017, which includes the date and time for the public hearing.
Despite resident’s concerns, council members said the project would be approved, whether it was at that meeting or the next.

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