Hutto City Council is eyeing potential ordinance changes to rein in fiber-optic construction as companies compete to claim neighborhoods in the area.

Two-minute impact

City officials have fielded various concerns from residents as the installation of fiber lines adheres to limited regulations.

During a presentation from the Hutto Department of Public Works Oct. 19, Mayor Mike Snyder said he has received numerous calls and photos of damage caused by tunneling for fiber lines. He also noted community sidewalks and driveways have been uprooted.

“Hey, we need to focus on this for a minute, guys,” Snyder said to council. “We, as a city, have got to focus and say this is a major issue. ... They’re just trenching the whole city.”

Four fiber companies work to bring the technology to the city.

The specifics

Director of Public Works Rick Coronado mentioned a common complaint received from residents questioned the vetting process and licensing requirements for the fiber companies.

As of now, fiber companies are required to obtain a right-of-way permit. Companies are then required to coordinate a preconstruction meeting with city officials to review excavation plans.

The city does not require contractors to hold a license. However, in the event of a water main break or utility issue, the city requires a licensed plumber to complete the repairs.

Another concern, raised by several council members, is the absence of penalties for fiber companies not in compliance with city requirements, such as failing to notify the city in the event of utility problems.

“Going forward we definitely need to strengthen our ordinances on this,” Place 6 council member Amberley Kolar said.

Snyder emphasized fiber companies damaging water lines have affected not only residents, but also schools and businesses. In the absence of regulations, there have been instances where these companies failed to promptly notify the city, leaving these entities without water for more than 72 hours, according to city officials.

Stay tuned

City officials plan to coordinate with the communications department to develop educational material for residents regarding what to know when fiber companies come to install fiber near their property.

City staff also maintain a frequently updated website detailing each neighborhood’s fiber provider and contact information. Those included are as follows:
  • AT&T: 210-829-5095
  • BrightSpeed: 469-451-8694
  • NextLink: 806-751-1708
  • Ubiquity: 844-322-2524
Hutto officials plan to draw inspiration from other cities that have successfully implemented ordinances to address these issues as a guide for future ordinance drafting.

Staff with the department of public works will present recommendations for specific ordinance regulations at the second council meeting next month, Nov. 16.