The Austin Chronicle

County Land Use

Slow Crawl to Nowhere

By Lee Nichols, May 8, 2009, News

One of Austin Rep. Valinda Bolton's major environmental goals this session was to give counties some greater land-use controls; currently, when compared with cities, they have almost none. She's having mixed results. Her House Bill 1507, co-authored by fellow Austinite Donna Howard, would grant populous counties the right to adopt noise regulations and has made it out of County Affairs and into Calendars. "It's not May 14," Bolton said hopefully, referring to the deadline for a bill to be debated on the House floor. Her HB 4175 – which would enable certain counties to adopt buffer-zone regulations and comprehensive land-development plans, the sort of powers Travis County badly needs – finally moved out of Land & Resource Management on May 6. San Antonio/Austin Sen. Jeff Wentworth's companion bill has fared even worse, not even getting a committee hearing. "Unfortunately, these county bills are like moving the ball down the field against 150 years of history," said Bolton, referring to the reluctance of legislators to give government any new powers regulating private-property use. Looks like more of the same.

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