90-day extension: DS extends development moratorium

By Megan Wehring 

DRIPPING SPRINGS — The city of Dripping Springs will undergo its development moratorium for an additional 90 days.

At its Feb. 15 meeting, the Dripping Springs City Council approved the extension that will last through May 21. The moratorium will continue to affect permits for new development of subidvisions, site planning, land use and construction in the city limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) — this relates to both residential and commercial projects. A waiver or exception will have to be approved for a project to move forward.

While the moratorium extension did get the green light, not all council members were in agreement. Council members Taline Manassian, Wade King and April Harris Allison voted in favor. But council member Sherrie Parks voted against and council member Geoffrey Tahuahua abstained.

Harris Allison questioned the effectiveness of a 90-day window.

“If the comprehensive plan is not going to be done until december,” Harris Allison asked, “where does another 90 days get us with regards to the comprehensive plan?”

The extension gives the city extra time to assess the comprehensive plan; review the policies for accepting permit applications for development; and update the city’s requirements and processes for wastewater and transportation infrastructure.

“In 90 days, I think we would be in a better position to negotiate a development agreement based on the information we have garnered in this first phase,” said Mayor Bill Foulds. “Even though it won’t be in effect yet, we will know some of the intent that’s coming out of that and then we can include that in the development agreement. Right now, we would be going into it blind without any information from the new comprehensive plan.”

Tahuahua expressed his concerns of regulations in the ETJ and extending the moratorium based on land use.

“My concern is that we are in some gray area, at least in my personal opinion, of how the land use one is applied,” Tahuahua explained. “Because the reality is in the ETJ, we are limited to what we can ultimately regulate. All the moratorium really does is it forces them to have to come to us for permission to move forward. In any other situation, if they saw for wastewater on their own and met the minimum regulations, they don’t have to listen to the comprehensive plan at all and they can proceed to move forward.”

The development moratorium was originally enacted on Nov. 18, 2021, and was extended to run through Feb. 20, 2022. During that time, the city council has approved more than 20 waivers and exceptions.

After the extension ends in May, the city will no longer be able to extend the moratorium based on the land use issue. It could be extended further but only related to providing wastewater infrastructure for the city.

City council can end the moratorium at any time, according to city attorney Laura Mueller.

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Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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