County eyes subdivision rules
By LPR Staff
During a lengthy regular meeting on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners heard a presentation regarding a comprehensive revision to the county’s existing subdivision rules.
The exhaustive workshop-style presentation, which lasted upwards of four hours, covered all aspects of what is being called the Caldwell County Devel
opment Ordinance, a document which will help the county exercise its limited powers in overseeing commercial, residential and other development in unincorporated portions of the county.
Most notably, the ordinance is designed to help the County recognize, restrict and correct “illegal subdivisions,” separations of rural property which have historically not been in line with the county’s regulation regarding accessibility and size, and which have been noted as a growing problem within Caldwell County.
In revising the development rules, the Caldwell County Commissioners sought to achieve many goals, mostly dealing with the platting of properties and the requirements property owners must meet to divide and sell parcels of land within the unincorporated areas. The updated requirements spell out not only the requirements and exemptions, which include family land grants and Veterans Land Board purchases, but also the fees associated with subdivision of property.
Generally speaking, the Texas Legislature has imposed strict limitations on what counties may and may not regulate with regard to development of private property. However, working within the confines of those restrictions, counties are entitled to oversee developments in an effort to ensure that basic services, including county road maintenance and emergency service protection, can still be provided safely.
Several of the allowable restrictions are addressed within the Development Ordinance, including with and spacing requirements for driveways, requirements for easements and rights-of-way, and the procedures for building and maintaining private roads.
Because of the extent of the document and the material it covers, the workshop of the first draft took several hours, and drew input from members of the Commissioners’ Court gallery, some of whom were concerned about possible restrictions of property rights, and others who worried about the fee structure included in the document.
Proposed fees for subdivisions start at $400 for a “short-form” plat, which requires little or no research or input from Caldwell County staff for approval. Depending upon the level of development and time required to review the plat proposals, fees can range into the tens of thousands for larger developments, like those being suggested near where State Highway 130 will intersect Highway 80.
Additionally, the new fee scale will call for a “residential development permit,” at a proposed fee of $225, for the review of residential construction plans to ensure that septic, setback and other plan details are in line with County regulations.
Those issues, as well as others brought forward by the commissioners, have gone back for additional review and revision, and according to the Commissioners’ Administrative Assistant Marie Cavanaugh, those revisions will be available for public review after they have been made.
In the meantime, the original draft of the document is available for free public review online at www.loomis-partners.com/news.htm.
A public hearing to discuss the Development Ordinance has been tentatively scheduled during the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.