By Anton Riecher
Water, traffic and security were the principal concerns cited by property owners during public hearings before the Medina County Commissioners Court regarding pending action on several new subdivisions.
Precinct 3 landowner Frederick Gierisch said that he has seen rapid depletion of his water resources in recent years. Now developers of the Sky View Ranch subdivision off FM 1796 are petitioning the court for preliminary approval of the project.
“My water well, in five years, has gone down 50 feet and I’m right across the fence from their development,” Gierisch said.
Beside the hearing on the Sky View Ranch development, commissioners also heard from landowners on creation of the Megan’s Landing Public Improvement District and revisions to Private Road 1505 in the Holiday Villages of Medina subdivision.
Precinct 3 Commissioner David Lynch presided over the Jan. 12 meeting in Lutz’s absence. New County Judge Keith Lutz and Precinct 4 Commissioner Daniel Lawler were not present as they were attending the Texas Association of Counties conference in Austin.
Beside the impact on water resources, Gierisch told commissioners that Sky View Ranch is a 2,800-acre development involving 220 lots. Figuring three members to each new household the new development represent added pressure on local roadways.
“It might add as many as 600 more people to an FM road that can’t handle the traffic that it has now,” he said.
Landowner Joe Finger of D’Hanis mirrored Gierisch’s complaints in his comments.
“I can’t drill another well,” he said. “My well is at the bottom of the table. If my well dries, and it has dropped an average of about 10 feet every year, everybody in my area will be as out of luck as I am.”
Like Gierisch, Finger said increased traffic on FM 1796 represents a growing menace.
“You’re going to get somebody killed by putting that many people on that road when it is not meant to handle the traffic,” Finger said.
Dan Mullins, representing the developer, said steps have already been taken to address the concerns raised by Gierisch and Finger. Regarding water, landscaping is being restricted to only 5,000-square-feet of irrigation.
“So on a 10-acre tract nobody is going to come out and sod the whole thing,” Mullins said.
Regardless of Mullins’s reassurance, commissioners voted to approve a motion by Lynch giving preliminary approval for the subdivision only if it receives the okay of county consultant Alan Stanton of Westwood Engineering on the water use impact.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Larry Sittre asked Mullins to consider reconfiguring the arrangement of lots to reduce the number of homes bordering FM 1796.
“This is, to me, a safety hazard to have 24 lots come out on that state highway,” Sittre said. “That is not good.”
The public hearing for the Megan’s Landing Improvement District received a ringing endorsement from Sittre who praised the inclusion of what he described as one of the largest systems to recycle irrigation water in Texas.
“We’re in the worst water crisis and this will save probably 60 percent of the water,” Sittre said. “Sixty percent of the water that goes to homes goes on the yard. This is going to be 100 percent recycled water on the majority of yards.”
During the public hearing on the Holiday Villages of Medina development a representative for Texas Holiday Villages asked that commissioners schedule final plat approval for their next meeting.
“We expect today you are going to hear some complaints about the private roads, their construction,” the representative said. “I just want to make sure that the court notes that those roads have been inspected both by independent third parties and the county and passed that inspection.”
Texas Holiday Villages has entered into an agreement with the local homeowners association to guarantee the road for the next 10 years, he said.
But property owner Paul Wade said the developer’s decision to reduce the minimum lot size from one acre to a quarter acre is bound to impact the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Also, the security of the gated community has been compromised by unrestricted access from Castroville Road.
“They paint a pretty picture of what they will do for you as long as it doesn’t cost them,” Wade said.
The Texas Holiday Villages representative said access from Castroville Road was only temporary to allow in construction equipment and has since been closed. Tom Crawford of the homeowners association said plans are in the works for a more substantial fence to block that entrance.
In other business, a report from County Auditor Eduardo Lopez put the available county funds at $20 million compared to $18.1 million at the same time last year. The commissioners approved $2.1 million in accounts payable with $19,599 in funds disbursed since the last court session.
Commissioners approved a request by Darcy Hasty, director of Medina County Pre-Trial Services, to permit her office to adopt the use of a smaller, more sophisticated breathalyzer testing device used to check the status of offenders while on the job.
Chief Deputy Gilbert Rodriguez sought approval for the sheriff’s office to comply with a request by the state attorney general to assign an investigator to the issue of Internet child abuse. The state pledged to reimburse the county for the computer equipment needed.
Commissioners asked for further information on payment of an architect in regard to redoing the parking lot of the courthouse annex completed in 2020. Lynch explained that the architect was needed to make the county’s case that the parking lot be redone.
Sittre said he was opposed to any effort by the contractor to cover the parking lot project from contingency funds.
“They screwed up our parking lot and they want to take it out of our money to fix it – no,” he said.
The commissioners voted to authorize advertising for a public hearing on reducing the speed limit for CR 640 in precinct 3. Meanwhile, Precinct 1 Commissioner Timothy Neuman said he wants the cost of advertising about applications to replat to be borne by the property owners in the future.
“My precinct has paid nearly $3,000 to advertise for this,” he said.
The commissioners’ tabled action on Neuman’s proposal until further legal research can be conducted.
By Anton Riecher