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Neighbors upset over subdivision of lots in eastern Travis County

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 by Mark Richardson

A landowner’s request to divide a two-acre lot in the Estates of Wilbarger Creek into two one-acre lots has riled up some neighbors, who say they moved out to the picturesque preserve in east Travis County to enjoy the wide open spaces. But Travis County Commissioners were told they had little choice but to approve the subdivision request.

 

A public hearing on the subdivision request at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting – something that rarely draws comments – drew several residents of the Estates of Wilbarger Creek who were concerned that making a large lot into two smaller tracts would bring two septic systems where there used to be just one, doubling the potential for environmental damage

 

The original owner of the two-acre lot was identified as Nancy Rodriguez. She sold one of the small lots to Maria Leon Cormanela, and the other to Fabian Lopez. Both people say they want to build homes on their one-acre lots.

 

The fact that there was a request made for a subdivision after the original owner had already divvied up the lots had several neighbors fuming.

 

“They (the original owner) sold the lots before permission to subdivide was granted,” said neighbor Nancy Fairchild. “If you grant her permission to subdivide now, you are saying that anyone who subdivides and sells their lots in parcels before obtaining legal permission to do so can come to this court and get permission after the fact. There has been no penalty or fine for subdividing without a permit.”

 

Fairchild added that she was aware of several instances where the original owner had modified the property prior to the subdivision in violation of county regulations. She asked commissioners to postpone granting the subdivision so that she and other residents could research the situation and make a better case against the subdivision. No delay was granted.

 

Judy Moody and her husband purchased their lot in the Estates of Wilbarger Creek in order to retire, and said the county required them to pay for an engineered septic system, which is more complex and expensive.

 

“We bought (our) acres so we wouldn’t have to live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood where you can see your neighbors brush their teeth in the morning,” she said, adding that they are concerned that the county might not require proper septic systems on the two tracts because they are smaller lots.

 

However county staff told commissioners that they had dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s in handling the subdivision request.

 

“Basically the plat has gone through a very thorough review regarding subdivision requirements, transportation, flood plain review, septic review, public notification, things like that under Chapter 82 of the Texas Local Government code,” said Joe Arriaga with the Transportation and Natural Resources Department. “So based on all those parameters of the review, the staff is recommending approval.”

 

He said that because the subdivision request met all the legal requirements, there was little discretion to do anything but approve, despite the issues raised by the neighbors. He said issues regarding the septic system would be dealt with at the time the property owners applied to the county for those permits.

 

Commissioners conferred with the county’s legal staff during an executive session and later voted 4-0 in open court to approve the subdivision, making no further comment on the matter. Pct. 2 Commissioner Bruce Todd was not on the dais.

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