The square footage of new homes under construction in West Lake Hills continues to expand, along with the time it takes to complete the projects.
Some residential projects are headed into a sixth year of work, which is not just a nuisance to neighbors, but an issue that could also effect safety, Mayor Linda Anthony said at the Dec. 12 City Council meeting.
Council members agreed that city policy on building permits should be discussed and possible changes should be put in place to incentivize homeowners and contractors to finish projects faster.
West Lake Hills’ existing law caps building permits at two years, after which time an applicant can file for an extension. There is no limit on the number of extensions.
According to Texas state law, cities must allow homebuilders five years to complete a project.
One option council members discussed involved charging an increased renewal fee for every extension requested.
The same rate is charged for each renewal as for the original permit, City Manager Robert Wood said, adding there is no base permit fee and the cost depends on the particular project.
Council Member Brian Plunkett expressed concern that someone might not care about paying increased fees when it’s already a huge project.
“But I think it’s really important to address this now,” Plunkett said. “All the 2,500 square feet houses in West Lake Hills are going to get mowed down and replaced with these big ones. Even though we’re built out, we’re not.”
The issue started about three and a half years ago with a home project on Buckeye Trail, Anthony said.
Officials agreed to prioritize and reintroduce the issue early next year with a list of suggestions created by city staff for council to consider.
“There are things we can do about this,” Anthony said.