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Leaders, residents express concern regarding new subdivision

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  • Leaders, residents express concern regarding new subdivision
    County Judge Richard Evans speaks to the audience on Wednesday, June 29, at the Pipe Creek Fire House. BULLETIN PHOTO/Tracy Thayer

A large group of the Pipe Creek community met at the Fire Station Hall to listen to information on the upcoming development of Elk Mountain Ranch, a new subdivision off State Hwy 16 and State Hwy 46.

Developers have purchased two ranches in that area and are planning a large development in several “phases.” This development will encompass 1700 acres. At least 500 tracts are planned, and 289 of those have already sold according to sources at the meeting. Phase 1 will consist of 108 lots.

The property is being advertised as 5-to-10-acre homesites close to Boerne. While Boerne is a short drive down State Hwy. 46, the subdivision will be in Bandera County.

Patti Smith moderated the meeting. Judge Richard Evans, Sheriff Dan Butts, Fire Marshall Jason Rutherford, Chief Appraiser Dustin Vernor, County Commissioner Jodi Rutherford, BCRAGD Board members Conrad Striegl, and Ernest Dewinne all attended and spoke for each of their organizations. A representative from TxDOT was not present.

The community members expressed concerns in several areas. The most serious concern dealt with water resource management. The subdivision will not have a water system. Owners will have to purchase and install their own wells and septic systems.

The stresses on current well owners in the area is hard to predict as each property owner in Elk Mountain Ranch would have a great deal of flexibility in the depth of water well they drill and the amount of water they pump.

Septic resource concerns were also voiced at the meeting by xcommunity members.

The Bandera County River and Groundwater District is currently conducting a study on the Trinity Aquifer and the viable size of lots to plat.

According to Striegl, 24 test wells have been sunk to test the flow of water from the aquifer in that area. At present, the subdivision minimum is five acres each but that could change depending on the outcome of the water study. The study is predicted to take 18 months to complete.

Sheriff Dan Butts spoke about county services like EMS and law enforcement. While the response time in that area of the county is quick, this subdivision will introduce a large population into the area that will certainly slow that down.

Butts reminded the audience 20 percent of his calls deal with animal issues. Domestic animals will come with the people as they occupy the home sites, he predicted.

Butts also spoke to the traffic situation that will be created by the entries of the subdivision on Hwy 46 and Hwy 16.

The crowd was disappointed TxDOT would not be putting a turn lane in on Hwy 46. Many predicted that a dangerous situation would develop as the entrance to Elk Mountain Ranch is on a sharp curve.

The developers predict that only 40 percent of the subdivision will enter and exit the subdivision on Hwy 46 and the other 60 percent will use Hwy 16 adding traffic to both roadways.

Chief County Appraiser Dustin Vernor spoke at length about property values and how they would be affected by this subdivision.

Many at the meeting reported that the subdivision was being touted as “Ag Exempt.” Vernor said the only exemption on a five-acre lot is for bees. The owners would have to establish extensive bee keeping to be able to qualify for that exemption.

County Fire Marshall Jason spoke briefly about the challenges facing the area by adding nearly 500 homes to the Pipe Creek Fire Department’s scope of responsibility.

County Commissioner Jodi Rutherford spoke to the group about his experiences with “explosive” development in Precinct 4. He expressed strong opinions on the merits of development and the stresses it puts on all county resources.

The final speaker of the evening was County Judge Richard Evans, who compared the city of Bandera and the County on their legal avenues to control explosive development.

Evans remarked the City could pass ordinances and other rules to control development. The county, however, has no legal ground or statute to protect it from sale of land for development.

Evans recommended that constituents contact their state Senator and Representative to address this issue in the next session. He said that this is a regional problem and not just a Bandera County problem.

Patti Smith reminded the audience this was a meeting to share information.She said that the next step will be to attend a BCRAGD meeting on July 14 to discuss issues pertaining to this development.

For more information or to get involved, contact Patti Smith at 210-508-3875.