Despite strong opposition from the citizens and elected officials of Wimberley and Hays County, the Texas House and Senate have approved the Needmore Ranch Municipal Utility District (MUD) #1 for approximately 4,020 acres of the 5,000-acre ranch just east of Wimberley.
While the existence of a giant MUD district, with special powers far beyond traditional property rights, has serious potential to do great harm to the Wimberley area and its other property owners, local citizens won a partial victory in their intense stand against legislation circumventing local input and opinion.
Acknowledging the overwhelming opposition to the MUD by area citizens and local elected officials, Representative Jason Isaac authored last minute amendments to House Bill 3918 and presented them on the floor of the House. The amended bill was approved and sent to the Senate for concurrence. The amendments include:
- Eminent domain is prohibited except to provide right of way for importation of groundwater or surface water from sources other than the local Trinity or Edwards Aquifers.
- If a residential subdivision or planned community is developed within the MUD, water for that development must be imported - presumably, but not clearly stated - from sources other than the Trinity or Edwards Aquifers.
- If a residential subdivision or planned community is built, the MUD must develop a wastewater treatment plant in coordination with the state TCEQ, Hays County, and Wimberley.
- Land adjacent to the MUD may not be annexed into the MUD except by a petition signed by the owners of two-thirds majority of the assessed value of the land to be annexed.
The amendments made to the Needmore Ranch MUD appear to be significant steps toward protection for the water resources of the Wimberley Valley and western Hays County. Water needed for development inside the MUD would come from connections to a pipeline that might in the future be built along RR 12 from the San Marcos area, bringing groundwater from Lee and Bastrop County aquifers.
Hays County currently is seeking a water supplier to bring in up to 50,000 acre feet (16 billion gallons) of groundwater annually to serve future growth and to reduce groundwater pumping within Hays County.
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) thanks County Commissioner Will Conley, Judge Bert Cobb, Wimberley Mayor Bob Flocke, City Administrator Don Ferguson and the hundreds of citizens of Hays County and the Wimberley Valley who attended the Town Hall meeting April 25, wrote letters, made calls and signed petitions to help achieve this compromise.
CARD strongly supports property rights, including the right of the Needmore ownership to develop the property in accordance with the subdivision rules of Hays County and applicable provisions of State and Federal law. We hope the property owner will review the Growth Corridor Plan - available on the CARD website (www.cardtexas.org, under Current Events) - and help maintain the low density and rural character that has always been the hallmark and attraction of central Hays County.
CARD Steering Committee Louis Parks, Chairman
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