The city of Hill Country Village will use a sealed bid method to market a city-owned 14-acre tract of undeveloped land with plans to use sale proceeds to help fund construction of a new City Hall.

The background

City Council held a Feb. 22 special meeting to discuss going ahead with putting the land tract at Bitters Road and Tower Drive on the market, a measure authorized by local voters in a special November 2022 election.

The city has owned the 14-acre plot for several years, with community members frequently debating how best to treat one of the town’s final large pieces of undeveloped land.

City leaders in 2023 briefly considered using part of the 14-acre tract to accommodate a relocated municipal complex, but pushback from residents prompted council members to jettison the idea.

The city-owned property has three lots, all zoned Residential-2, or R-2, meaning each single-family home lot measures at least 4.5 acres.

Dig deeper

City officials outlined stipulations in putting the land tract on the market, including restrictive covenants, such as that the lots cannot be subdivided, and that any single-family homes developed there cannot exceed a maximum height of 40 feet.

Restrictive covenants were a source of division between the four council members attending the Feb. 22 meeting.

Council member Matthew Acock said he felt any restrictive covenants placed on the land could adversely affect the property value. But an appraiser notified city officials right before the Feb. 22 council meeting, saying the restrictions would not impact how much money the local government could end up receiving in the land sale.

Acock also pushed for a delay in council action, saying he felt top city leaders did not give residents enough time to prepare for the special council meeting.

Local leaders said the city did post the meeting agenda within the state-mandated time frame for publishing an agenda for a called council meeting.

What they’re saying

Additionally, Acock and council member Carl Register said they felt residents should be given the opportunity to review the then-proposed restrictive covenants before any council action.

“I feel there’s still question on restrictive covenant impairing value,” Acock said.

Council member Greg Blasko said he felt comfortable with the aforementioned appraisers’ assessment of any effect that restrictions could have on the value of the land.

According to Blasko, many residents have stated to him their desire to see the 14-acre tract remain zoned for single-family residential development. He added neighbors who live near the property are right to be concerned about how future development there could impact them.

“I think chief concern of our residents is whether it will stay R-2,” Blasko said.

Blasko and Council member Allison Francis said city leaders have spent enough time debating the fate of the 14-acre property and that the city was being careful in proceeding with putting it on the market.

Some audience members agreed with Blasko and Francis.

“I’d just like to put this to bed once and for all,” resident George Dennis said.

When a 2-2 voting tie emerged among the four attending council members, Mayor Gabriel Durand-Hollis broke the impasse, saying he was confident that land restrictions would not negatively impact the land appraisal.

“I believe in good faith that we’re doing what voters asked for,” Durand-Hollis added, referring to maintaining R-2 residential zoning on the property.

Council members unanimously approved using a sealed bid method for the land sale. City attorney Marc Schnall said, this way, city officials are not required to accept any received bid for the land until they feel comfortable with a bid that best correlates with the land value.