Low-density properties planned for annexation

Land fast-tracked for Austin, Bee Cave areas

Two Travis County cities—Austin and Bee Cave—are about to stretch their city limits a bit further to manage growth and add dollars to their tax bases.

Both cities have plans to annex property before the end of the year—about 140 acres of real estate in West Austin and more than 400 acres in Bee Cave—under exemptions that allow a faster annexation track for sparsely populated parcels.

City of Austin annexation

On Oct. 16 and 23, Austin City Council heard staff testimony regarding the city's proposed full-purpose annexation of seven Travis County tracts. Three of the properties are located in the western part of the county—about 68 acres on Bridge Point Parkway, about 49 acres on RR 620 near RR 2222, and about 23 acres at Hwy. 71 and Old Bee Caves Road.

Annexation proceedings for all of the tracts should be complete by Dec. 17, and the Planning and Development Review Department has not received notice of any formal opposition to the plan, Senior Planner Virginia Collier said.

The city of Austin may annex property by either of two methods—a three-month process for tracts of fewer than 100 single-lot homes or a three-year process for tracts with more than 100 single-lot homes, she said.

Although both methods require the city to issue notice to affected property owners of the proceedings and allow for public hearings, the shorter process does not permit the tract's planned community residents to weigh in on becoming a part of the municipality.

Collier said the city favors the shorter process, before the tracts are populated.

"Annexing an area after residents are there creates confusion and angst," she said. "It's easier for everyone if [the property] is already in the city limits. It creates more certainty for the city that enforces regulations and permits to know what is going to be developed."

Austin staffers look at areas to be governed—candidates for annexation—annually, Collier said. These areas include tracts with a likelihood of high growth, tracts for which developers have submitted requests for annexation and areas in which utilities have been extended, she said.

Focus on high growth

Only one of the tracts set for annexation by Austin on Dec. 17 does not have development plans.

The Bridge Point Parkway tract is set high on Shepherd Mountain, a bluff overlooking Lake Austin, and is listed for sale, said Realtor Jeff Pace with HPI Real Estate Services. However, both Pace and David Armbrust, an attorney for property owners Camelback Corp. and ExxonMobil, said they are not authorized to share any information about the parcel, including the price.

According to the Travis County Appraisal District, the undeveloped property is contained within a larger 144-acre parcel appraised at more than

$9 million—with about 50 acres of the proposed annexation area located in Austin's limited-purpose jurisdiction and 15 acres in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ. The remaining acreage is already in Austin's full-purpose jurisdiction or designated as city right of way.

"The Bridge Point Parkway parcel does not have any inhabitants, but the annexation will allow city staff to ensure the quality [of the] growth expected in the area," Collier said. "This would bring the entire area under full-purpose jurisdiction."

Early annexation

Site development plans for a 140-unit single-family home community known as Montebello, located on the RR 620 parcel, were filed May 20 but have not yet been approved, said Adib Khoury, vice president of Taylor Morrison Home Corp., the developer of the project that was originally filed as Parke North.

Although Taylor Morrison asked that the development be annexed as part of its water and wastewater service request from the city, Khoury said he was concerned the neighborhood may not proceed according to the site plans that resulted from negotiations with Austin city staff during the past 18 months. The undeveloped property is currently located in Austin's ETJ.

"We are still in the final round of [city staff] comments on permits," Khoury said. "There is the potential risk to be annexed before getting our site permit."

Taylor Morrison plans to break ground on the new neighborhood at the beginning of 2015, he said.

A 240-unit apartment complex, known as Landmark Conservancy, is scheduled to be complete in early 2015 at Bee Caves Road and Hwy. 71, Collier said.

The project's site plan has been approved, foundations have been poured and the framing is nearly done, she said.

"The [Hwy.] 71 property is partly in the city limits as a limited-purpose jurisdiction and part is in its ETJ," Collier said. "It makes more sense for [delivery of] public safety services to include the entire tract [in city limits]."

Steve Oden, principal for Landmark Conservancy developer Oden Hughes, declined to comment on the annexation.

Bee Cave's 2014 annexation plan

Bee Cave began the process Sept. 23 to annex about 444 acres of land—128 acres along Bee Cave Parkway, including property containing West Travis County Public Utility Agency facilities and part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve; 284 acres east and west of Hamilton Pool Road; and 32 acres south of Hwy. 71 and west of Great Divide Drive. The properties are projected to be annexed Dec. 9 with public hearings concluding Nov. 10.

Following voter approval in May 2013, the city of Bee Cave changed its governance to home rule, allowing it to annex property from its ETJ. Since then the city has charted annual plans to increase property within its city limits.

Each parcel of land Bee Cave has annexed since 2013 was occupied by fewer than 100 people per tract, Planning and Development Director Lindsey Oskoui said.

"[The ability to annex is] one of the reasons the City Council pursued home rule status," Interim City Manager Travis Askey said. [Annexation] provides a vehicle for the City Council to see the [city's] comprehensive plan come to fruition."

According to its charter, Bee Cave's annual annexation authority is limited to 10 percent of the acreage inside its city limits plus the prior year's un-annexed acreage.

The ETJ around the city of Bee Cave includes a 1-mile radius from its original border when the village of Bee Cave was created in 1987, Oskoui said. The ETJ boundary in Bee Cave does not keep expanding as it does in the city of Austin, she said.

"We're surrounded on all sides by other municipalities' corporate limits or ETJ," Oskoui said. "We're landlocked."

In 2013 the city annexed approximately 337 acres in four areas—near West

Hwy. 71, RR 620, Hamilton Pool Road and East Hwy. 71.

According to its 2014 annexation plan, Bee Cave administrators could annex up to 455 acres this year, including areas around Bee Cave Parkway, Hamilton Pool Road, Bee Caves Road and Great Divide Drive.

"[When deciding on property to annex], we look at anticipated areas of growth along major corridors and adjacent to residential neighborhoods," Oskoui said.

Plans that identify utility service providers have been drafted for the parcels and the required two hearings announced, Askey said.

"If the city is contacted by a citizen regarding an annexation, we record those comments, and they can appear before City Council to speak in opposition," he said. "City Council has discretion to direct staff to take other action."

Annexation terms

Full-purpose jurisdiction: Land within city borders; city provides municipal services to residents, assesses taxes, and enforces city ordinances and regulations

Limited-purpose jurisdiction: City enforces ordinances governing land development, environment, some health and safety; no city taxes or municipal services

Extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ: Unincorporated land within 5 miles (Austin) or one mile (Bee Cave) of a city's boundary that is not within the city limits or ETJ of another city; city regulates development in ETJ; no city taxes or city services

Source: City of Austin, City of Bee Cave