At its regular meeting Sept. 23, Hays County commissioners unanimously approved a development agreement with the developers of the proposed La Cima neighborhood near the intersection of Ranch Road 12 and Old Ranch Road 12 outside the San Marcos city limits.

The decision came one week after San Marcos City Council approved a similar agreement. The county will now await the results of an economic analysis study relating to the development and an appraisal of the property.

"This is an incredibly important project for our community," former state representative and San Marcos resident Patrick Rose said. "It will bring better jobs. It will bring better housing. It will support our school system. It is a number of things, all of which, frankly, have passed San Marcos by in years past."

Officials in the city of San Marcos and Hays County agreed the development was an attractive offer, but concerns remained over how to finance the project and when the property would be annexed into San Marcos. City officials were pushing for immediate annexation of the property. Under terms of the development agreement between the city and developer, the property will remain outside the city limits until a subdivision plat or related development document is submitted to the county.

Commissioners also approved formation of a public improvement district at the Sept. 23 meeting. A PID is a development tool created by the Texas Legislature whereby counties or municipalities issue bonds to help fund development costs. The bonds are paid back by residents moving into the neighborhood who have an assessment—essentially a debt based on the value of their property which must be paid back—placed upon their homes.

The commissioners court will act as the board of the district and will be responsible for determining the amount and timing of debt issuance. The PID debt issuance will be accounted when determining the county's overlapping debt, an indicator of financial strength looked at by credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's.

State law prohibits public improvement districts from issuing bonds in an amount greater than one-third of the total value of the undeveloped land. The county is currently awaiting the results of an appraisal, which will determine the upper limit of how much debt can be issued.

"I know there are some who would like not to see anything developed out in this area, but that is not the reality of our future," Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley said. "What we're responsible for doing is making sure that [development is] done appropriately and that it meets a very high standard of quality from a design perspective and an environmental perspective, which I think we have achieved with this document."