APRIL 13 UPDATE: This bill was killed in committee, 5-4. Unfortunately powerful lobbyists such as the Texas Association of Builders and TACA still carry more weight than hundreds of citizens who live in the area actually affected. These committee members voted against the bill: Ben Leman, Dustin Burrows, Tom Craddick, David Spiller, Shawn Thierry.
April 3, 2021
It’s that time again: the next Texas legislative session is now in full swing and we’re closely watching a number of bills related to quarries, aggregate production operations (APOs), and protecting our state’s natural resources.
Good news! One of the most important bills for us this session has been (at the last minute) scheduled for a committee hearing Tuesday, April 6! We strongly supportHB 3883.
What’s to Like?
Tired of hearing county commissioners tell you that they don’t have any tools in their toolbox? That unincorporated areas of the county are the “wild west”? 👎 With HB 3883, the legislature gives even more tools to Hill Country counties and provides them with appropriate local control to help protect our water supply, water quality, and other natural resources.
Some of the tools this legislation would provide to counties in unincorporated areas include:
Appropriately manage and control growth
Set reasonable lot size and minimum frontage restrictions (preventing high-density development)
Require adequate water supply prior to subdivision development
Establish infrastructure cost recovery fees (paid by developers)
This bill is not a quick fix: there are some high bars to be met before restrictions can be implemented. But it provides counties with additional local control options and tools to help prevent over-development of our Texas Hill Country. Kendall County Commissioner Richard Elkins stated that this bill “will provide the necessary development rules and regulations to protect our natural resources and quality of life while allowing new economic development.”
Milan Michalec, president of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, wrote this helpful editorial in the Boerne Star outlining the history of and reasons to support HB 3883.
Legislation like HB 3883 could positively affect the future of the Texas Hill Country for decades to come.
Your input will be especially meaningful if you mention you have seen first-hand how higher density development in unincorporated areas of the Hill Country is jeopardizing our aquifers and our water supply.
Population in Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) has exploded recently, growing over 30 percent in the last five years.
The recent drought of 2010-2015 showed that in many areas, the Trinity Aquifer was not a reliable source for water. Additionally, the Guadalupe, Pedernales, and Blanco Rivers were inadequate sources of water during drought conditions.
Other water sources must be found for the existing population and new people moving into the area.
Some county commissioners have been working closely with their respective groundwater conservation districts. This bill further combines their efforts to determine the appropriateness of development in the Hill Country PGMA.
Explain your reasoning from the points above, use our sample email template (personalize it as much as you can), or at a minimum, simply state your support for the bill. In addition to the email and phone call, if you can drop a letter in the mail to each member, that would be superb! (The bill is being presented on Tuesday, but they may not vote on it until later.)
(Some offices may be closed on Monday. If so, try calling on Tuesday morning.)
Allow plenty of time for Austin traffic and parking. Sometimes these hearings can last two or three hours, so be prepared (snacks, water, book, etc.). If you have any printed documents or graphics, bring ten copies. If you have any questions about the process—or anything else—simply reply to this email.
Don’t worry if you haven’t memorized every detail of this bill. That’s fine! Tell your personal story, focus on the fact that we need to protect our Hill Country water resources and counties need tools to do it.
If you plan to speak at the committee hearing, we recommend emailing Representative Biedermann’s policy specialist at Larry.Bailey@house.texas.gov to coordinate and run any questions or comments by him.