Building Moratorium Halted in Cibolo

The City of Cibolo much like the rest of Greater San Antonio is currently experiencing rapid growth, the likes of which they have never seen before.

With growth, sets certain challenges at times for City lawmakers or a “balancing act” as they would often refer to it, where the balance lies in making sure there are reasonable infrastructure needs in place to withstand the influx in new residential and commercial development. Accessible roadways for emergency vehicles, water and sewer lines for new subdivision construction, and wider streets for the increase in traffic are all factors being considered by elected leaders in these growing communities.

One of the other challenges beyond infrastructure needs in Cibolo was ensuring that the city could hold developers accountable to city building codes and their fair portion of impact fees. The city identified a particular area of town in the City’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) where a developer intended to develop a high-density single family subdivision but would be exempt from rules laid out in the Unified Development Code. This was contrary to how the City planned its growth as detailed in the Master plan and Future Land Use Map. The area of concern is residential development off of Weil and Green Valley Roads on the eastern portion of town.

In order to hold developers accountable in the area, the City looked into their available options, the first of which was annexation proceedings as a means to prevent further development of the ETJ. The first public meeting on the annexation was met with opposition from the residents and those city efforts were quickly derailed. Council and staff decided to take a step back to look at other options and be as inclusive of their neighbors living in the ETJ as possible but most importantly protect the citizens of Cibolo.

The other option included placing a homebuilding moratorium on single-family residential new construction in the area for a period of 180 days. In general, a building moratorium halts the construction of a project or projects. Building moratoriums can be imposed by cities, towns and the courts for a variety of reasons including control or manage growth, implement growth strategies, or because of a public safety interest. Elected leaders felt it may be in their best interest to take some time to look at some smart growth fixes because the City has become so desirable to homebuilders.

Hearing news of the moratorium discussion at the city level, prompted action by SABOR staff. While moratoriums are a tool utilized by local governments during a time of need, Cibolo is a desirable and affordable place to call home, limiting the supply of new housing while demand continues to be high could certainly have an adverse effect on housing affordability. A temporary prohibition on new development in Cibolo would, in general, affect more sites, place greater upward pressure on city housing prices, and reduce affordable housing resources to a greater extent creating more instability in the market.

After several rounds of phone calls and meetings with staff and elected officials, SABOR was pleased with the progress and course of action Cibolo City Council agreed to take moving forward on the issue. The involvement from the association helped steer discourse and apply enough pressure to leaders in the community to change their direction on how to best handle new growth. Council agreed it was not in their best interest to institute a temporary moratorium at this time.  The consensus from the Council stemmed from there being no legal justification, too short of a timeframe, and the need to have a documented plan to remediate the reason stated in a moratorium. Their alternative solution will be to continue to work on updating their Unified Development Code as needed and continue to explore interlocal agreements with Guadalupe County to help address the problems created by high-density single family subdivision developers who are still exempt from City Building codes and impact fees.

Cibolo’s consideration of a housing moratorium is a perfect example of a local issue which could have negatively impacted the real estate industry. SABORs political jurisdiction is made up of 9 counties and 66 local municipalities and it continues to be critical that members stay informed and vigilant on what is happening in their communities.

If you see or hear of a potential issue coming up for discussion or a vote at the City or County level, please let the SABOR Governmental Affairs staff know at legislative@sabor.com.

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