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Dripping Springs City Council votes to end building moratorium

Since November 2021, any new construction needed a special permit and exemption from the city council.

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — After 10 months, Dripping Springs won't renew its moratorium on new construction.

On Tuesday, the city council voted unanimously to not extend the moratorium that is set to expire on Sunday. It had been in place since November. However, at least two members of the council expressed their concerns about not extending the stoppage.

"I think we need to be incredibly clear that we're not lifting because there's capacity. The problem hasn't been solved," Taline Manassian said during the meeting.

The moratorium first went into place because the city does not have the wastewater infrastructure to support new construction. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved increased wastewater capacity upgrades for the city, but a lawsuit has put those improvements on hold.

"There's not been a fix to that other than we're able to negotiate this with people now," city attorney Laura Mueller said after her presentation to the council recommending to let the moratorium expire.

At the meeting, the City's planning director, Howard J. Koontz, advised the council that his office would continue to warn developers there would be no new wastewater infrastructure provided by the City for the time being. The council determined new wastewater infrastructure would need to come from a private-public partnership until the lawsuit is settled.

Only two public speakers at the meeting discussed the moratorium.

"I've been pushing for them to consider new means of treating their wastewater," Terrence Tull, a Dripping Springs resident with a background in urban planning who supported continuing the moratorium, said. "They have the perfect opportunity right now while they're working on a new comprehensive plan to incorporate some new plan where they don't have to build enormous wastewater treatment plants and long pipelines, and they can have each developer do his own project to the standards at the city establishes."

"Origo Works invested in in this area a couple of years ago with the intention of putting retail and entertainment space in the Dripping Springs area and contributing to its economic development and job development. Shortly after the investment was made, the moratorium was put into place," Paul Serafy with Origo Works LTD said. "We have been frustrated by the moratorium. We've been frustrated that the investment can't really be developed the way that we expected it to. Of course, the economy and things and construction in general have slowed down, but this has been a really frustrating part of investing in Dripping Springs for Origo Works."

When the moratorium expires on Sunday, developers can start discussing and applying for new projects with the City, just with the caveat they may need to include their own wastewater infrastructure plans.

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