Cibolo residents give city an earful on water runoff
Residents being affected by Cibolo’s effort to annex 2,200 acres of land gave city council and city staff an earful at a meeting designed to explain the city’s options.
While the city stated its case as one to control lot-size development in the area, at least a half-dozen residents let the city know what fuels their objections: Water.
Resident after resident spoke at the Nov. 20 meeting about downstream flooding issues that have arisen from recent developments in the city. Efforts to curtail the flooding, such as larger lift stations and retention ponds, are a massive failure, according to residents who, like one individual stated, now have knee-deep water traversing their acreage every time it rains.
Residents spoke of how the city’s annexation plans and the resulting water and sewer issues have changed their lifestyles, eroded their property and even forced some to consider moving away from the flooding and traffic that residential development within the city has created.
City Manager Robert Herrera opened the meeting by explaining the reasons behind the city’s effort to seek an annexation.
“Annexation gives us the ability to impose building requirements, to impose our setback requirements, and it gives us the ability to go out and do some code enforcement as necessary,” Herrera said. “We think that’s going to be important.”
The city allows for non-annexation agreements that exist for a number of years, based on agriculture exemptions. Herrera said the city is looking into its ability to offer the non-annexation agreement to all residents in the 2,200 affected acres.
Rudy Klein, city director of planning and engineering, said the agreements are key in order to allow the city to halt development that could be detrimental to the area. People who reside on the acreage can retain their ways of life as long as they do not sell or restructure their land.
“If you have an ag exemption … and you sell the property to a developer who said, Yes, I’m going to cut it up into 40-foot lots,’ then yes, that would trigger annexation,” Klein said. “I think your neighbors would appreciate the fact that we would be able to bring that property in and control that development.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re having these non-annexation agreements, is to try to protect your current properties, as well as the city’s investments,” he said.
Klein’s reference to 40-foot lots was aimed at the potential for creation of trailer parks or manufactured homes lots “or a higher-density development than what you’re accustomed to, or would want to see next door to you,” he added.
Herrera said the city is going to take its time to look into extending the non-annexation exemptions as it meets with and hears from affected resident.
“This is not being driven by the city of Cibolo to gain additional property for tax revenue,” he said. “It’s about trying to regulate the number of residential units that come into our city.”
Letters that addressed the city’s wishes to annex 2,200 acres along three large properties on and along its southern edge were originally mailed out in September. That letter gave a Dec. 11 deadline to file for and receive the non-annexation agreement. But that timeline has changed as the city re-evaluates its stance and options.
“We’re not in the business of rushing this through, or trying to make something happen overnight,” Mayor Stosh Boyle said. “We want to make sure we get this right.”
While the city addressed the development issue, landowners took them to task on water runoff, sewer issues and downstream flooding.
Three landowners stood and addressed recent runoff and rains. The first said rain produced flooding that closed Interstate 10 near Santa Clara. He said he used to get runoff across the back of his property that was ankle deep, and now it has reached knee-deep levels.
A second landowner showed a photo of runoff and the trash carried through his property as a result of the increased runoff.
A third said his area floods to the point that he had to bring in dirt for fill, something he’d never experienced. He said developers “flood the flip out of us downstream.”
“That’s B.S., because what you all decide to do affects us, and you all go back home, you don’t give a flip. But that flood plain is a bunch of crap,” he said.
A woman who lives on 3.6 acres of land on Weil Road told council she is considering moving from the property she bought as a result of the creation of the Cibolo Vista subdivision off FM 1103 north of her property.
“All that runoff just comes pouring down there,” she told council. “We talked to the developer when that was happening, and nothing changed. Everybody just forged forward.”
She became emotional when she told council of her plans.
“I bought (the land) 30 years ago to retire. I’m five years from retirement and now I’m thinking about moving. My life has been in upheaval. I’m upset, I’m disappointed, because now I want to move somewhere else.”
Herrera said he understands the passion of landowners and what they have to say.
“There are a lot of things that came up today that I thought were pretty enlightening,” he said. “I think it’s important for the city to look at its development policies. Let’s re-examine the drainage, and look to see if we’re meeting the test that we’re required to meet.”
Herrera said he expects a meeting in January, after council and staff have time to talk with landowners to address questions, to explain non-annexation agreements, and explain what the ETJ means to those who live there.
“We’re working to try to provide you with the answers,’ the city manager said, “as we continue to monitor development of those three developments.”