Naked City

Dripping Springs Slows Down

It may be two years too late, but the city of Dripping Springs is putting the brakes on development to give the booming Hays Co. suburb time to fine-tune its land-use ordinances. The Dripping Springs City Council last week unanimously approved an ordinance, effective immediately, that temporarily closes the door on applications for industrial, manufacturing, residential, or mining-related developments.

The ordinance doesn't apply to platting or site-permit applications that have already been submitted; and the work stoppage is only for 120 days while officials review city codes and ordinances as well as Dripping Springs' wastewater treatment capacity. Before enacting the ordinance, city officials went to great pains to explain that the moratorium did not represent a new anti-growth stance for the community. Unlike other Hays Co. towns, like Wimberley and Buda, where anti-sprawl sentiment has picked up steam, Dripping Springs is still proud to be developer-friendly, as evidenced by the sheer number of subdivisions sprawling across the city's vast extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Although much of the city's ETJ is in the sensitive recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, city officials nonetheless have brokered generous development deals with builders in this area. The Save Our Springs Alliance has a lawsuit pending against the city that stems from two of those agreements – one with Cypress Realty Inc. pertaining to the 2,700-acre Rock Creek development on the old Rutherford Ranch, and another with MAK Foster Ranch LP for its 1,600-acre Bel Terra project off U.S. 290 near Nutty Brown Road. Some critics wonder if 120 days is sufficient to upgrade the city's ordinances, considering that Buda and Kyle took nine months and two years, respectively, to refine their land-use laws in the face of rampant Hays Co. growth.

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