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Hays County to get settlement money in Hamilton Pool pollution case

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 by John Davidson

Hays County will receive $425,000 as part of a $3.5-million settlement in a lawsuit against a development company and others over the pollution of Hamilton Creek and Hamilton Pool caused by construction at a subdivision on the Hays-Travis county line in 2007.


Last week, Hays County Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the terms of the lawsuit, which claimed that faulty design practices and inadequate pollution controls caused massive amounts of construction runoff to flow into Hamilton Creek and eventually into the iconic Hamilton Pool.


“Some of this settlement will serve to repay Hays County taxpayers for expenses incurred by Hays County in evaluating damage to Hamilton Creek and pursuing legal action against the polluters,” said Hays County Assistant District Attorney Mark Kennedy.


The subdivision, Ranches at Hamilton Pool, included 29 homes on about 1,221 acres that span the Hays and Travis county lines. Hamilton Creek begins in Hays County and runs to Hamilton Pool, in Travis County.


Hays and Travis counties, along with the State of Texas, brought the lawsuit in November 2007 against Rodman Excavation, Inc. of Frisco, Coldwater Development, Ltd., engineer Aaron Googins and several other subsidiaries and associate companies involved in the housing development.


The lion’s share of the settlement, $2.1 million, will go to Travis County, which will use the funds as part of an effort to restore the pool and the creek. The state will receive $500,000 and three nearby landowners will receive settlements ranging from $95,000 to $190,000, according Hays County officials.


Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved the settlement in March 2009. Coldwater Development and the other defendants are due to execute the settlement soon, pending final signoff from their insurance providers.


Kennedy said the reason that Hays County officials waited until now to sign off on the lawsuit is because they wanted to be sure that all the settlement terms were acceptable, not just the monetary terms.


Kennedy was reluctant to discuss the additional terms because not all the private landowners who are party to the lawsuit have agreed to the settlement, although he did say that much of the discussion involved how the various parties will release each other from liability.

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