In a 6-1 vote on June 18, Buda City Council approved a development agreement with Milestone Community Builders on second and final reading, and an agreement with Bailey Land Investments LP and Armbruster Land Investments LP to annex approximately 762.44 acres of land into the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ.

The single dissenting vote was council member Terry Cummings.

The background

The development, known as Persimmon, is located in Buda's and Austin’s ETJs, which are unincorporated areas of land outside a city’s limits a city can annex either to control development or expand its tax base, according to the Texas Municipal League.

Persimmon has been contested by residents and council over the years due to concerns of an influx of traffic and the development's impact on the city's utilities.

In September, Buda City Council adopted a nonlegally binding term sheet, which outlined priorities and requirements for the development. Council tabled the development agreement in October because they were not ready to accept the document as it stood, according to previous reporting by Community Impact.

Council made significant headway in February after approving the development agreement on first reading with amendments.

What you need to know

The development is slated to have 2,300 residential units, according to agenda documents. Townhomes will be included in the development, but there will be no apartments or multifamily homes. Additionally, 40 acres of land for the development will be used for nonresidential commercial use, with 15 acres reserved for a school and 3.5 acres donated for a fire/EMS site.

Persimmon will be financed through a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, and a public improvement district, or PID. The TIRZ and PID will help fund the larger public improvement projects that will be supporting the development and regional transportation improvements constructed as part of the project, according to a news release.

Buda City Council and Hays County entered into an interlocal agreement on June 18, and will participate in the TIRZ together. The interlocal agreement sets the framework needed for the creation of the TIRZ to assist in funding public infrastructure needed as part of Persimmon, according to a news release.

The city and county will contribute 50% each of the incremental revenue granted over the baseline year established at the time the TIRZ is created.

What the dais is saying

Mayor Lee Urbanovsky said they are doing the best they can for Buda residents.

"This process has been long, and it's taken many years. We have done, I feel, the best we can to set the groundwork for what's going to happen on this 775 acres on the corner of [RM] 967. The state legislation has made the rules better and friendlier to developers. ... We have hard decisions to make with some bad options sometimes, but we're doing the best we can" Urbanovsky said.

Council member LaVonia Horne-Williams echoed Urbanovsky's sentiment.

"We're going to do the very best to keep Buda, Buda and to be able to make sure that people continue to enjoy the type of life that they've created," Horne-Williams said.

Some context

Following the 88th legislative session, Senate Bill 2038 went into effect Sept. 1, allowing residents and landowners in an ETJ to leave the city's authority through a petition or election. Prior to the bill's passage, local leaders voiced concerns about residents' ability to provide public input on what developments they wanted to see in their area. Developers could choose to petition out of an ETJ and would no longer be privy to resident feedback.

“Under this new regulation, you could very easily start seeing what I would call doughnut holes within those ETJs, where maybe somebody has 500 acres and they decide, ‘You know what, I don't want to build under the regulation of the city of Buda or the city of Dripping Springs. Therefore, I'm going to petition to be let out,’” Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith said in August. “Then you're going to have developments that may be around them that have gone through that process, and now you will have a development that is operating under a completely different set of rules, and it just doesn't necessarily create a fair playing field.”

Council member Paul Daugereau encouraged residents who may be upset by the decision to vent to state leaders.

"What's happened over the last couple of years is there's been an imbalance, and the imbalance in the name of property rights has gone toward developers where they can come in and have a bigger say over the ETJ than the city and the people that have built this city and work so hard to make it what it is, and so that has to change," Daugereau said.

Next steps

Buda City Council will approve the PID, the creation of a TIRZ, full annexation and issuance of PID bonds at a future meeting.