BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Buda and housing developer MileStone Community Builders are at a crossroads.
For about six years, the two have been going back and forth about a proposed residential development.
At the end of June, MileStone sent a letter to people in Buda about its residential development called Persimmon. It’s located in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
In it, the company claimed there’s been “8 months of inaction and intentional delays by the Buda City Council.”
MileStone CEO Garrett Martin told KXAN because of that, the project is at a stand still.
“We’ve gotten to a point where we don’t know what to do,” Martin said.
The letter stated, “While we continue to hope the City Council will join us in supporting the Development Agreement it tabled in October 2022, its refusal to take this collaborative path, supported by 70 percent of Buda residents, has forced us to pursue a different option, made possible by a new state law.”
The City of Buda’s response
Contrary to MileStone, the City of Buda said it hasn’t left the negotiating table. It responded in its own letter posted to its Facebook page.
“The reality is that the City of Buda has spent countless hours reviewing this project and has negotiated in good faith with Milestone to create a project that preserves the best interests of Buda,” the response reads.
Buda Mayor Lee Urbanovsky told KXAN MileStone won’t agree with three main terms:
- Density and lot sizes
- Timing for transportation improvements
- Tree mitigation
“We’re trying to stay somewhere around 2,000 total units and they’re fluctuating between 26 to 28 to 3,000 units,” Mayor Urbanovsky said.
Urbanovsky said the city is also waiting for the traffic impact analysis for the entire project as well as a tree survey for part of the property.
“This is a very big decision that we don’t take lightly,” Urbanovsky said. “There’s a lot of ambiguity that we’d like to get cleared up to know exactly what the big master plan is for this whole 700 acre property, to know that we make the right decision for the City of Buda.”
Urbanovsky said city council will discuss this at their upcoming meeting.
The new state law
Thanks to a new bill, Martin said they can still move forward without city approval.
“If your land is inside the ETJ, and you basically can’t get a response from the city that you’re inside the ETJ for, you can remove it from the ETJ,” Martin said.
SB 2038 was signed last month by Gov. Greg Abbott. It allows an ETJ property to be released upon request and regulated either by county guidelines or those of another city.
State Representative for Hays County Erin Zwiener voted against it.
“You and your community have less control over what type of development pops up next door to you,” Zwiener said.
She said this is particularly concerning for thriving areas. “That’s where we’re going to feel bills like this the hardest: fast-growing communities like Hays County or other suburban counties,” she said.
Martin said if a development agreement with Buda doesn’t pass, they’ll either go to Hays County or to the City of Austin for annexation.
If that happens, MileStone’s letter said Buda would lose:
- Oversight, regulation and influence over Persimmon’s design and construction
- $60 million in privately funded traffic improvements
- Approximately $5 million in annual tax revenue
- New public parks and greenbelts
Zwiener said she’s currently working on keeping both the City of Buda and the City of Austin in communication, “so that the developer can’t play them off each other.”
The response from neighbors
Charles Franks lives next to the proposed site. He said he’s concerned about adding more cars on these narrow roads.
“They’re talking about increasing the traffic through our neighborhood right in front of our house,” Franks said. “It’s the safety of the kids and the pets and the people that jog through this neighborhood since there are no sidewalks.”
Along with traffic safety, Franks said he’s worried about the environmental impacts of a development of this size.
“If you look around most of these trees out here are well over 100 years old,” Franks said. “Any they cut down that are over 20 inches, they’re gonna replace them with two inch diameter trees. It’s gonna take 40 or 50 years to get anywhere close to the size of these. We’re worried about that and all animal wildlife that’s out here.”
Franks and his neighbors said regardless of which path MileStone takes, they’ll still be there to push back.
“Everybody’s going to do their best to fight it,” Franks said.