Heightened concerns for ever-increasing water demands led Hutto City Council to table developer plans for 87.8 acres of land off FM 1660—to be known as Meadowbrook.

The details

A resolution proposing a municipal service agreement for water and wastewater services to the Meadowbrook development was discussed by City Council Dec. 7 but was ultimately put on hold after council members displayed apprehension the city would be able to provide water in a timely manner.

“So I am not going to support this. It’s not that I don’t support the development, I really don’t support the way staff has put the council in a position with a developer that potentially creates friction two years from now,” Mayor Mike Snyder said. “It seems almost like a false promise.”

The proposed development by Freese and Nichols Inc. would home a total of 494 single-family units. An additional zoning request for the property states, “The planned-unit development will include both single-family detached homes on 50- to 60-foot lots and attached townhome units, providing for both move-up homes and attainable housing options in the same neighborhood.”

The city manager, James Earp, explained that though the property is not currently able to receive water services from the city, water contracts currently in place will increase supply enough to offer these services in between two to five years.

“You want to be able to have new ratepayers, new connections joining to use the capacity that you're [currently] paying for. So in that way, the cost burden gets shared out amongst more people,” Earp said.

Additionally, the city engineer, Matt Rector, noted that within the service extension request the city has outlined several requirements to be completed by the developer before the city would feel comfortable offering water services.

The required projects include several sewer lines that must be constructed by the developer prior to services rendered from Hutto.

The city, however, would need to complete improvements to a nearby lift station, the Cottonwood elevated storage water tank and water lines for the property before developers could move forward. These projects were estimated by city staff to be completed by the summer of 2025, allowing the developer to begin turning dirt as early as the spring of 2024.

Place 3 council member Randal Clark expressed a desire for city staff to track all future development requests to ensure that the city could fulfill the promises of water supply made by the city.

Additionally, Clark questioned why the city of Hutto currently does not require developers to prepurchase their water capacity, especially, as the city itself is having to prepay to reserve water in the contract agreements for greater capacity in coming years.

“So my question is, why aren’t we looking to do the same thing to these companies coming in? So we are also letting them reserve and pay us so that we can pass that percentage of cost onto what we’re paying for our [future] water supply,” Clark said. “We then, as a city, [should] start directing them that we won’t approve any of these projects unless they’re willing to put that skin in the game today. ... Going forward, that needs to be a shift in policy from the city.”

This sentiment was shared by much of the council.

Stay tuned

City Council voted to table a decision on the municipal service agreement until Jan. 4, giving city staff time to renegotiate requirements with the developer, potentially requiring a prepurchase agreement for water capacity.