The city of Dripping Springs will put a pause on all new housing and commercial developments, citing the city has reached its wastewater capacity, according to a Nov. 10 city news release.
The temporary moratorium, which will take effect Nov. 18, means the city department will not accept permit applications for new developments in the city or its extraterritorial jurisdiction where a waiver has not been approved. Applicants will have the option apply for exceptions or waivers if the moratorium is extended past Nov. 27, according to the release.
"Our goal is to protect the treasured quality of life we have all come to know and love,” Dripping Springs Mayor Bill Foulds said.
Foulds said there are two major driving forces that led the city to enact a moratorium: wastewater capacity and the need to update the city's comprehensive plan, which was last changed in 2016.
While the city's proposed new wastewater treatment plant would serve more than 7,000 connections, the current plant can only serve 3,000 and is near capacity, Foulds said. Save Our Springs has sued the city and the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality over the planned plant, which means it cannot be built until litigation is complete, Foulds said. The city warned developers whose plans have already been approved to have a backup plan for wastewater in the form of on-site septic in case the new plant cannot be built quickly, Foulds said.
Equally important, Foulds said, is the comprehensive plan.
"We desperately need to update it so that we can address these traffic issues, and so we can address density," Foulds said.
The city will look at bids for firms that can update the plan, he said, and there will be many public meetings, which will allow citizens to share their vision for the city's future. Foulds and other city leaders did not expect development to move so quickly when the plan was last changed in 2016, he said.
"No one could have anticipated this growth. The growth has just been outrageous and phenomenal. We love it, but we hate it," Foulds said.
Census results from 2020 showed Hays County was the fastest-growing U.S. county with a population of 100,000 people or more. The county saw 53% growth from 2010-20, according to U.S. census data.
Any permit application deemed administratively complete prior to Nov. 18 will not be affected by the temporary moratorium, according to FAQs on the city's website.
The City Council will have the option to approve a longer moratorium, which could run up to 120 days and could be extended in the future, according to the city. Foulds said he believes a 90- to 120-day extension is likely.
Dripping Springs residents can comment on the moratorium at a series of upcoming meetings, including the Dripping Springs Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., the City Council meeting Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. and a special council meeting Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.