City council approves developer agreement
A new 374-acre development moved forward Tuesday night as the Boerne City Council approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to enter into an agreement with the developer of Water Control and Improvement District 3A.
In approving the measure, Deputy City Manager and Utilities Director Jeff Thompson said the city is coming away with some big wins with water protection and roads for the first phase of the development off of Corley Road, which is set to bring 900 to 1,200 new homes to the area in the next few years.
And although the state legislature has stripped away the power of city and county governments to regulate density, Thompson said the developer listened to the concerns of local officials and made reasonable efforts to meet their demands.
“He told us from the first day that he wanted to do a square deal,” Thompson said.
WCID 3 is a district covering more than 1,000 acres in Boerne’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) that functions as a sort of mini-city government. It is a result of Senate Bill 914, sponsored by State Sen. Donna Campbell.
Kendall County has two other WCIDs – Comfort and Esperanza.
In a nutshell, a WCID is a specialized district created by the state legislature to provide water, sewage and other infrastructures to large developments.
Mayor Tim Handren said when the district originally was established in 2017, the city had to give approval for development to move forward. However, while officials deliberated, House Bill 2590 was passed and carved a new path for any WCID to move forward going through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. That meant the developer, Boernebak LLC wouldn’t need the city’s approval to move forward.
And although developer Phil Bakke didn’t need city approval, he is no stranger to the area and seemed to want to work with the local leaders on an agreement.
A WCID is a specialized district created by the state legislature to provide water, sewage and other infrastructures to large developments.
“Phil’s done business in Boerne before,” Thompson said.
During previous council meetings, citizens have voiced concerns for the impact this development could have on traffic and the environment. Thompson said local officials advocated and succeeded in those areas of concern.
“All the city council has been interested in is the best interest of the community,” Handren said, “what’s fair and good for our community.”
Handren said he made it a point to include both city and county officials in conversations about the agreement. And the first major victory was a big one for the county.
Thompson said the developer has agreed to pay for improvements to county roadways in and around the area of development – specifically Corley Road, Vallerie Lane and Old Scenic Loop Road.
During a recent meeting with Bakke and county and city officials, Kendall County Precinct 1 Commissioner Christina Bergmann said she advocated for the county’s concerns about the roads.
“It’s been very good with the collaboration between the county and the city,” Bergmann said. “I greatly appreciate the city including us as much as it has.”
Thompson said the second big win for the community as a whole are the provisions for water protection.
Officials at the Cow Creek Water Conservation District were concerned the development would dip into an already strained groundwater source. However, Thompson said according to this agreement the development will not access Cow Creek water at all. All water for the development will be provided by San Antonio Water System and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. Bandera Electric Cooperative will provide electricity.
Another big win for Boerne is the provision for wastewater and gas. Thompson said the city will provide wholesale wastewater and retail natural gas service for the development, meaning the WCID will be a wastewater customer of the city’s utility, and the residents of the development will be customers of the city’s gas utility.
Because the city will provide wastewater services, this keeps the WCID from building its own wastewater treatment facility and dumping treated sewage into Balcones Creek. Instead, wastewater for the development will run through Boerne’s treatment plant and emerge as Type 1 reclaimed water.
That “purple pipe” water is the same reclaimed water that’s piped out to places like Esperanza for irrigation.
Because the development is mostly in Boerne’s ETJ, it will be subject to the same low-impact development restrictions, tree preservation regulations, zoning and building design. According to a press release from the city, the city also will be able to regulate signage, lighting and require platting.
The same city subdivision rules will apply for streets, drainage and detention facilities, and Thompson said the developer is also subject to SAWS regulations on trees and lighting.
Although a development with three to five houses per acre is not something city or county officials would have elected to have, they have expressed the desire to make the best of the situation.
“The city council and city staff have worked within the constraints we’re living with now that come from Austin. Not from Boerne,” Councilman Joe Macaluso said. “I want to compliment the city staff who worked on this.”
The motion to approve the development agreement passed unanimously.