State law could fast-track developments

By Camelia Juarez

A tighter deadline to approve or deny proposed developments could place strain on cities as they attempt to mitigate growth.

Ultimately, city planners fear new rules per House Bill 3167 could lead to developments setting up that might not be up to code and might not be transparent to their citizenry.

Beginning on Sept. 1, House Bill 3167, signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott June 14, will force cities like Dripping Springs and Kyle to approve a development plan within 30 days of submission by a developer. Normally, such processes can take months to complete.

In response to the new timeline, state lawmakers removed the requirement of a public notice for those developments. Public notices are placed in newspapers and are meant to inform the public of an item that could be going before a municipality. Landowners will be notified after a decision has been made and a project approved.

To maintain quality developments, Dripping Springs Planning Director Jason Lutz said he is going to make several changes to keep up with the new state law. The Dripping Springs City Council Sept. 10 is expected to take up those changes, which will come in the form of amendments to the city’s existing development ordinance.

Lutz said the goal of the Sept. 10 meeting will be to make sure the city is in compliance with the state.

“It’s a lot of pressure on cities, especially high growth cities like us. We have a planning area for thousands of people but we have a staff for hundreds of people. We can get the job done with a few changes to our process,” Lutz said.

Those adjustments include adding staff to the three-person city planning team and putting more pressure on developers.

Before the state law, the city and developers would negotiate to meet the city code and the developers’ needs.

Developers will now be required to have their permits from TXDOT, utilities and others approved before they submit their project for approval. Additionally, developers will have to provide a narrative of how they meet the city’s code.

“We have some concerns about (the lack of) public notice. We will try to give some notice through signs, website and newspapers, but it’s something to work out at the city council meeting,” Lutz said.

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