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Trace: at MMR_Render.Press_Release.Page_Load(Object sender, EventArgs e) Mayor Hardberger and Rep. Villarreal Announce Bill to Close Loophole in Tree and Flood Ordinances - News from Mike - Representative Mike Villarreal - District 123 San Antonio

Mayor Hardberger and Rep. Villarreal Announce Bill to Close Loophole in Tree and Flood Ordinances

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Local Landowners Would Have to Play by the City’s Rules 
On Friday April 3rd, State Representative Mike Villarreal will announce legislation to give cities more muscle to enforce local land use ordinances, such as San Antonio’s tree ordinance and flood regulations. H.B. 2016 would prevent land owners who intend to develop land from using an “agricultural operation” designation to avoid such regulations. Mayor Phil Hardberger will join the Representative to discuss the challenges that the City of San Antonio currently faces in getting local landowners to play by the rules. Activists from the San Antonio Tree Coalition, the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance will also be present to show their support for the legislation.   
Currently, land with an agricultural designation is exempt from land use ordinances imposed by municipal government. Property owners are not required to substantiate their claim that the land is being used for agricultural purposes. As a result, some landowners with obvious intent to develop land into residential and commercial property have used the agricultural designation to avoid local ordinances intended to provide flood protection, preserve park space and maintain the tree canopy.
"In recent years, local property owners have used this loophole to avoid paying nearly $14 million in mitigation fees. This legislation would provide us with an important tool to preserve our quality of life as San Antonio grows," stated Mayor Hardberger.
If adopted, H.B. 2016 would allow a municipality to determine that the use of land has changed to non-agricultural use and apply its requirements to the land for the five years preceding the date on which the use of the land changed. The landowner would be responsible for any mitigation and fees required by governmental requirements.
“Some developers are poised to make a profit, while playing by a different set of rules than the rest of us,” said Villarreal. “With this legislation we’re not only fighting for fair government, we’re fighting to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.”