City, landowners close to an agreement on new municipal utility district
AUBREY — Aubrey city officials are negotiating with a group of landowners seeking to finalize an agreement to establish a municipal utility district in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Officials say talks with the landowners of Venable Ranch are going smoothly, with each side finding “a solid compromise” between what the city and developers want.
Property owners want to develop a residential community on approximately 2,300 acres on the northwest corner of Blackjack Road and U.S. Highway 377.
“There’s really no conflict between the city’s goals and the developer’s goals. The developer and city have been working on this with a very team-oriented mindset,” said Chantal Kirkland, city planner.
The city staff will present the final development agreement to the City Council for review by the end of April, if not sooner, Kirkland said.
Developers have yet to give an estimate of how many homes they expect to build, but Kirkland estimates that there will be about three homes per acre, with options for some commercial and retail development.
Districts of similar size in Denton County are expected to build 700 to 1,200 homes.
The landowners want to establish a utility district to fund expanding infrastructure into the area to support the residential property growth.
Establishing a utility district will give the developers the ability to set and collect taxes to pay for the infrastructure.
A utility district can be established by either the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or state legislation when located in a city’s ETJ.
A developer must enter into an agreement with a city before getting a petition for a district approved by legislation, TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said.
After a petition is approved, those living within the district can vote for or against the district’s creation.
Since the TCEQ can’t grant authority to build roads, the Venable Ranch developers are seeking legislative approval of the district.
The Venable Ranch development is one of two projects in the city’s ETJ that will seek legislative approval during the 83rd session of the Legislature.
In December, the city consented to the addition of a utility district known as the Lakes Development.
Meanwhile in Pilot Point, the developers of Eland Farms and City Council members attempted to find a middle ground, but failed to reach an agreement after months of meetings.
Pilot Point staff members were initially confident that an agreement was possible, but disagreements about future annexation stalled talks after the item was presented to the City Council.
But Aubrey officials said they feel confident about negotiations and don’t expect to run into any conflicts with the developers.
“We’ve pretty much solved all of our major concerns on both sides,” Kirkland said. “So now, we’re really just getting down to the details, ironing out all the minor things that go into a development agreement, which takes more time than true negotiations.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .