H.B. 3167 and S.B. 2370 Relating to Subdivision Review Timing and Process
The proposed legislation, in seeking to address a perceived problem, will have the opposite effect as it removes flexibility for cities to work with applicants and cause the subdivision process to take longer. APATX supports reforms to the subdivision process to streamline and eliminate red tape, even working with legislators on HB 3314 and HB 3315. HB 3167, by contrast, is ineffective reform. In consultation with our membership, APATX has identified the following issues with SB 2370:
- The requirement to approve or disapprove prevents the governing body from “approving with conditions” or “disapproving pending resolution of outstanding issues administratively.” Cities have used this approach to simplify resolution of outstanding comments at the administrative level rather than requiring further delay while awaiting the next available meeting of the governing body.
- Disapproval of a plat ends the process, forcing a project to start over. This jeopardizes project vesting under Chapter 245, as the project risks becoming a new series of applications. It also prolongs the ultimate approval process, and results in more costs to the developer. This is why cities typically provide the option to waive the 30-day action calendar or have the project denied. Submitting engineers and surveyors prefer the waiver in order to keep the process moving productively rather than explaining a denial to a client.
- The waiver of 30-day action is, at times, used to allow joint review of a final plat and construction plans. This is helpful on complex projects, as it ensures public infrastructure is properly located in easements and allows for adjustments to the plat, which are often easier than redesigning an entire site plan or public improvement construction plans. Shifting the location of a single building can cascade into requiring the relocation of easements and public infrastructure. Cities owe their citizens a detailed review of such plans, as the public is accepting an operation and maintenance burden that will last decades.
- The inability to meet 30-day action requirements rests with inadequate quality assurance and quality control by engineering and surveying firms tasked with preparing subdivision plats. Workloads for these consultants are stretched beyond their capacity, a result of the booming Texas economy in which cities have been key contributors. Simply put: Texas does not have enough experienced civil engineers and surveyors. These errors can be serious and cause long-lasting, complex title clouds that can be difficult and expensive to resolve. The effect has been to turn city staff into quality reviewers for the firms preparing the plats. Common examples of errors include:
- Legal description of the property failing to match the acreage within the plat;
- Errors of course and distance that cause the plat to exceed dimensions of the subject property;
- Preparing a plat without reviewing the applicable zoning and lot standards, often times requiring drastic redesign of the subdivision;
- Plat details so poorly prepared that experienced planners are unable to identify the location of the subject property;
- Use of standards for other jurisdictions, such as incorrect dedication statements and incorrect stormwater drainage criteria, that would result in flooding upstream or downstream and cause violations of the Texas Water Code; and
- Utility easements and rights-of-way that fail to meet accepted engineering standards.
In our experience, flexibility in the subdivision platting process benefits both the regulator (cities) and the regulated (developers). SB 2370 would erode that flexibility and make the relationship between cities and developers unnecessarily adversarial.
Business and Commerce Committee Members:
For HB3167, we need our members to send letters and call House Land & Resource Committee Members. The “ask” is to not report the bill out of committee. The members are:
H.B. 2439 Prohibits Cities from Regulating Building Materials
You are receiving this email because our records show that yours is one of more than 200 Texas cities that regulate building materials used in residential and/or commercial construction. House Bill 2439 (Phelan) is a far-reaching bill that would eliminate your authority to require brick construction or any other exterior, interior, or internal system materials that differ from those allowed by a national building code.
The bill has been set for a hearing in the House Committee on State Affairs, which is chaired by the author, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. in Room E2.014 in the Capitol Extension in Austin.
The hearing notice is available at:
More specifically, H.B. 2439 would provide that: (1) a governmental entity may not adopt or enforce a rule, charter provision, ordinance, order, or other regulation that prohibits, directly or indirectly, the use of a building product, material, or method in the construction, renovation, maintenance, or other alteration of a residential or commercial structure if the building product, material, or method is approved for use by a national model code that: (a) is adopted by the governmental entity; and (b) governs the construction, renovation, use, or maintenance of buildings and building systems; (2) a rule, charter provision, ordinance, order, or other regulation adopted by a governmental entity that conflicts with the bill is void; (3) the attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state to enjoin a violation of the bill; and (4) the attorney general may recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in bringing an action under the bill.
Please email email@example.com with questions.
Texas House Land and Resource Management Committee to hear bill removing Tier 1 County Annexation rights
Representative Phil King (R - Weatherford) has filed H.B. 347. The bill, which will be heard in the House Land and Resource Management Committee on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Room E2.012 of the Capitol Extension in Austin, would eliminate most unilateral annexations by ANY home rule city, regardless of population or location. The hearing notice is available here.
Specifically, the bill would: (1) eliminate the distinction between Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities and counties created by S.B. 6 (2017); (2) eliminate existing annexation authority that applied to Tier 1 cities and make most annexations subject to the three consent annexation procedures created by S.B. 6 (2017), which allow for annexation: (a) on request of the each owner of the land; (b) of an area with a population of less than 200 by petition of voters and, if required, owners in the area; and (c) of an area with a population of at least 200 by election of voters and, if required, petition of landowners; and (3) authorize certain narrowly-defined types of annexation (e.g., city-owned airports, navigable streams, etc.) to continue using a service plan, notice, and hearing annexation procedure.
City officials in home rule cities who are opposed to the bill should make plans to testify at the hearing.
Please contact Scott Houston, TML General Counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to testify or with questions.
Coppell City Council passes short-term rental ordinance (6/15/18)
Significance: Two bills were proposed during the 2017 Legislative Session (HB 2551: Krause and SB 451: Hancock) intended to pre-empt cities from regulating Short Term Rentals (STRs). STR regulation is anticipated to be a hot topic in the upcoming 2019 Legislative Session.
After several discussions, meetings and comments from the public, the Coppell City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday that regulates short term rentals (STRs) in the city.
The ordinance requires that the rented property be the owner’s primary residence, be registered with the city, an emergency contact number be provided and the property be inspected.
The ordinance also only allows two adult guests per bedroom and only one car per bedroom or number of cars that be accommodated within the garage and driveway without extending over the public’s rights-of-way.
Also, property owners within 100 feet of an STR will be sent a notification that an STR is in their neighborhood and given a number to a 24-hour hotline number to call in case an issue arises.
The STR issue became a highly discussed topic, bringing in arguments from both sides. Several residents had complained of STRs in their neighborhoods citing concerns of safety, disruptive activity and declining property values while others felt the proposed regulations were unnecessary and an infringement on property rights.
“We have heard considerable input from citizens on both sides,” said Councilman Marvin Franklin. “Our staff has studied ordinances from other cities, and we have sought to strike a balance between free enterprise, neighborhood integrity and property rights. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that.”
Councilman Gary Roden said Airbnb is a great system, but it’s not necessarily great for every location.
“When I look at something like this my thought is would I want this next door to me,” he said. “If I’ve got somebody that bought a house, they’re never present and there’s constantly people coming and going every night, I think that changes the integrity of our neighborhood.”
Council members Mark Hill and Cliff Long said they were against the inspection requirements of the ordinance.
Marcie Diamond, assistant director of community development and planning, brought out the inspections are conducted to make sure the basic safety and health requirements are met in each rental home.
Diamond said the ordinance allows for a sunset review, meaning the council will be given the chance to review the ordinance after one year and be able to make changes if necessary.
The STR ordinance is set to go into effect Jan. 2, 2019.
“Doing this ordinance provides a process. It’s the process I think that will help everybody feel that they have a little bit more control,” said Mayor Karen Hunt. “I’m hopeful this will be a start, and with the sunset we will be able to revisit this from now.”
Urgent Action Needed!
TXAPA working with TML is sending out this urgent call for testimony and letters. If cities and/or interested groups, including responsible developers, realtors, etc that understand the issues can attend to testify, it will be hugely beneficial.
Click here to learn more!
TML & TXAPA legislative Committee needs expert testimony on the attached annexation bills that will be heard at 2 pm in Austin on Wednesday, April 5. Agenda is also attached. HB299, HB 424, HB 3072 and HB 2272 are the main bills that we are concerned with. Two of them will have serious negative consequences. If you cannot attend, look up the members of Land and Resource and let them know what your City thinks. Copy TML and Shanna Igo with your comments or your plans to appear. Thanks for everyone's help. This one is important.