Hutto development could add 1,800 residents

A zoning change could pave the way for Hutto’s largest housing development in the city’s history.

The city council approved annexing 63.46 acres of zoned agricultural land at the southwest corner of CR 137 and FM 1660 South, adding it to a 98.34-acre parcel of land zoned SmartCode. The 161.80 acres, called Brooklands, is now completely zoned SmartCode after the council’s 7-0 vote Thursday. SmartCode is zoning with high-density residential and a mix of commercial property and parks.

A developer is expected to present plans for 608 houses. With Hutto’s average of 3.02 residents per household, the six-phase project could increase the population by 1,836 people.

The number of Hutto residents has steadily climbed, from 1,250 in the 2000 U.S. Census to 14,698 in 2010 and 23,296 now, according Helen Ramirez, director of the Hutto Development Services Department.

Ramirez said more than 14 acres will be designated as green space, with six pocket parks. The tree-lined streets will have sidewalks and connected trails accessing nearby schools.

Commercial development will take place on 16.18 acres. That part of the equation was a sticking point for Mayor Doug Gaul and council members Nate Killough and Lucio Valdez.

“We have a ton of rooftops, but we don’t have the money to support them,” Killough said, explaining revenue from business sales tax and property tax helps drive a city’s economy.

Ramirez said commercial development is likely to begin when residents come. She said developers are motivated to build out commercial property because of the premium rate on sales and rent.

Council members asked city attorney Charlie Crossfield if there was a way to force any developer to build the commercial portion first or after a phase or two of houses.

Crossfield said it is up to the landowner when to develop the property, though control can come through future zoning decisions by the council.

A tentative schedule through Ramirez’s office has a review of the preliminary plat for Brooklands going before the planning and zoning commission Dec. 6 and to the city council Dec. 15. A final plat would come early next year. If approved, construction on infrastructure would begin in 2017.

“This would be our first SmartCode development,” Ramirez said. “It can bring a lot of people to the city and create jobs. Employers look for attractive subdivisions for their employees. This would be good for us.”

 

 
By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is executive editor of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor for Central Texas and senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.