Special-called City Council meeting May 16

May 11, 2023

The Georgetown City Council will have a special-called meeting to discuss bills currently working their way through the Texas Legislature, to canvass the election, and to swear in the newly reelected members.

The special-called meeting will start at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 16, in council chambers, 510 W. Ninth St. The meeting will start with the election canvass, followed by a swearing in of Mayor Josh Schroeder, District 2 Councilmember Shawn Hood, and District 6 Councilmember Jake French.

City Council will then discuss various bills being considered during the current Texas Legislative session that will have an adverse affect on the City.

Opinion/Informational Piece
Mayor Josh Schroeder
May 10, 2023

The Devastating Impacts of Unchecked Development

As the 88th Texas Legislative Session nears its apex and record numbers of bills fly through both chambers, I need to make you aware of a piece of legislation that, in conjunction with numerous statutes and policies enacted by the state over the last few years, will dramatically and irreversibly impact the way we plan for sustainable and quality growth here in Georgetown.

Senate Bill 2038 was passed through both chambers and now awaits the Governor’s signature. The bill would allow property owners to petition for release from our ETJ, which has been presented as a property rights issue. As a strong advocate for private property rights, I understand the sentiment and intention behind the legislation; however, the underlying consequences of the bill are dire and, quite frankly, irresponsible. And when one property owner’s actions negatively impact adjacent property owners’ values, then we cannot merely use the phrase “property rights” to justify bad legislation.

We, the city of Georgetown and you the community members, have devoted time, energy, and your tax dollars to planning for not only the growth of the city but the development of its ETJ so as to benefit all residents, including property owners in the ETJ. However, Senate Bill 2038 largely strips us of our ability to do so and provides a perverse incentive for cities to stop building infrastructure.  Giving property owners the unilateral ability to “opt-out” of the ETJ, without the consent of other property owners nearby, and develop without heed to our master plans and standards that were developed with community input, will only lead to haphazard and inconsistent development while silencing the voices that matter most – the citizens of Georgetown and ETJ property owners who do not want to be surrounded by unfettered, low quality development that lowers property values.

This bill, by allowing areas to unilaterally relieve themselves of the regulatory standards under the ETJ, removes our ability to enforce our standards at even the most basic level. The City of Georgetown is known for our small-town charm – our beautiful square and welcoming citizens. This is possible because we have standards and requirements that developers who wish to build within our community and ETJ must uphold, and quality developers expect other property owners to develop at similar standards to ensure one development doesn’t negatively impact other developments. This bill takes away that ability and would allow batch plants, quarries, and poorly constructed manufactured and multi-family projects at a density of almost 32 units per acre. Please let that soak in. The average density in Georgetown is about 3-5 units per acre. The legislature is trying to force us to accept almost 10 times that amount of density in our community without any standards or community input on location. This bill and the related legislation look frighteningly similar to legislation working its way through California, Washington, and Minnesota that essentially eliminates single-family zoning throughout those states. We cannot allow this to happen in Texas.

This bill further undermines our ability to plan for transportation needs. All of the people living in this dense housing will use our city streets, paid for by Georgetown residents, without paying one cent toward the construction or maintenance of our streets. SB 2038 also voids our ability manage environmental standards, and to protect the fresh water source for Georgetown and beyond. It is a property rights issue when your upstream neighbor dumps their wastewater into the stream that runs through your property.

We, as a city, need to have the ability to look into the future with some level of certainty and plan where the growth and development occur. If we over-size the infrastructure for future growth in an area that then petitions to be removed from the ETJ, the burden of the oversizing cost goes on the existing residents of the city through utility rates instead of impact fees that the developer would normally pay. Alternatively, if we abandon those efforts, we risk forcing current ETJ residents and future developments into the sort of haphazard development we are now working so hard to avoid.

ETJs were created because past legislators realized that the impacts and benefits of urban or rural life and development do not end at the city limits sign. SB 2038 fosters an “us” and “them,” City and ETJ mentality. This mentality simply does not match the history and the character of the city we know and love.

This is why civic and legislative engagement is so important. We’ve tried to make being informed and engaged with the legislature a bit easier for you: If you have not yet done so, I urge you to sign up for our weekly Intergovernmental Relations newsletter on our website at georgetown.org/intergovernmental-relations/. This newsletter will help you to stay engaged on the issues that matter most and point you to how you can share any feedback you have with legislators.

The 88th legislative session will adjourn on May 31, and they won’t meet again until January 2025. Now is the time to be involved in decisions that impact your community. Thank you for your time and dedication to Georgetown.

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