City puts a hold on approving development plats

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Developers looking to file a development plat application may have to wait a bit before doing so.

The city of Seguin hit pause on accepting plat applications between Aug. 9 and Oct. 1 after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3167, which changes the platting process and timeline.

An owner is required to submit a plat for review and approval when subdividing land, Planning and Codes Director Pamela Centeno said. They’re required to show how they plan to divide the property, the layouts of the proposed lots, potential streets, retention ponds and drainage ways.

“Chapter 212 of the local government code currently requires cities to act on a subdivision plat within 30 days of being filed with the city,” Centeno told Seguin City Council at an Aug. 6 meeting. “Many cities including the city of Seguin have created processes within their ordinances that include statutory denials and or waivers that allow cities additional time to review plats.”

The city’s current process allows the city’s planning department to work with the developers on making sure they meet all the subdivision regulations before the application is taken to the Planning and Zoning Commission within 90 days, Centeno said.

During the review period, the staff looks at any deficiencies in the documents, which are then sent to the developer or engineer. Many times the Texas Department of Public Safety, GVEC and Springs Hill play a part in reviewing the plats, she said.

Typically state law requires the cities to review everything within 30 days, but developers can sign waivers to allow for extra time and waive the 30 days, Centeno said.

“This includes the review period in which comments noting deficiencies in the plat documents are returned to the development or in most cases, the representative’s engineer for corrections,” Centeno said. 

However, HB 3167 creates stricter requirements for the review and approval process by setting the 30-day window requirement, she said.

“It’s limiting the availability of city staff to conduct thorough reviews of the proposed subdivisions,” Centeno said. “We feel that puts us in a very critical situation where we’re rushed especially now with the development that we are experiencing here in Seguin.”

If it’s not done within 30 days, then the plat is automatically approved and the city must sign off on it.

“If not approved, then the disapproval must be specific and complete with cites to the law and ordinances not met,” Centeno said. “The disapproval is a one-shot affair, if something is missed, you can’t pick it up on subsequent review. The developer then must address the reasons for disapproval and resubmit to the city. “

City staff then only has 15 days for the Planning Commission to approve it or disapprove it, Centeno said.

“At this time that is not possible. There’s no way we can do that meeting with the commission once a month,” Centeno said. “Expecting the volunteers (of the Commission) to come twice a month will be difficult. It puts a strain.”

The new requirements will result in rushed reviews and inadequate developments, Centeno said.

“While the city of Seguin sports growth and desires strong relationships with developers and builders, there is a responsibility to protect and promote the public health, safety, general welfare and quality of life of the present and future citizens of Seguin,” Centeno said.

While there is a temporary pause of accepting plats until October, the city plans to develop some changes to the city’s regulations to meet the new state law.

The new process would limit what days applications and resubmittals are accepted in conjunction with when the Planning Commission meets as well as what items can be taken out to be reviewed separately.

The pause on plats was approved following a motion by Councilman Jeremy Roy and Councilwoman Jet Crabb.

Valerie Bustamante is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at valerie.bustamante@seguingazette.com .

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