SH 130 Bills
March 8, 2007
I wanted to let you all know about three bills I plan to file today relating to State Highway 130. They should help guarantee that this road actually helps the communities it runs through. The bills come out of a process that I helped start last summer, in which dozens of elected officials from around Central Texas came together to discuss the tools they need to get their arms around the growth that SH 130 is bringing. The three bills separately offer tools to local officials in small cities, counties, and the City of Austin; a summary of the three is below.In the context of the recent controversies over the Trans-Texas Corridors and other highway privatization projects, I think the bills are a strong example of how roads can be made to work so that communities actually benefit and aren’t simply taxed or bulldozed. New transportation projects, whether they’re roads, rail, or whatever, offer numerous potential benefits – less traffic, major economic development, and better land use, for starters. But there are just as many potential problems – sprawl, environmental issues, and a lack of financial transparency and political accountability that could drain state coffers and private pocketbooks for generations. These bills demonstrate how the state can listen to local communities and work with them to maximize the benefits, and minimize the problems, spinning off of these roads. There needs to be a lot more of that.Anyway, here are the bills:#1: Addressing the needs of small citiesThis bill would:
- Allow municipalities to do limited purpose annexation if any of their incorporated territory is located within 15 miles of SH 130 and of Austin.
- Maintain that authority even if TXDOT transfers ownership or operation of the road.
#2: Addressing the needs of countiesThis bill would:
- Allow county zoning power exclusively in an area that’s within 15 miles of SH 130 and of Austin. The bill would have no effect outside Travis and Williamson counties, nor could the powers it grants pass over Austin’s city limits to affect growth in areas of Travis County far from SH 130.
- Limit those zoning powers to cover general land use, building size, the percentage of a lot that may be occupied, yard size, population density, and construction standards.
- Permit an impact fee within the 15-mile zone, unless cities are already imposing an impact fee there.
#3: Addressing the needs of the City of AustinThis bill would:
- Create an infrastructure district within 5 miles of SH 130 and within Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
- Give the city limited purpose annexation authority over the district, including tools to maximize development potential.
- Require full annexation in less than 15 years.
- Require the city to assume the district’s debts upon annexation.
- Allow the district to collect sales and property taxes to pay for utilities and infrastructure within the district. Either tax rate can be lower – but neither can be higher – than the corresponding tax rates within the city.
- Forbid any taxation within the district until residents there can vote in at least one City Council election.
- Maintain that tax-supported bonds to pay for infrastructure be approved by voters within the district.
- Provide that the City Council serve as the district’s board of directors.
- Require public notice and at least two public hearings on the creation of the district.
- Dissolve any part of the district that is annexed into the city.
- Not give eminent domain power to the district.
- Create a process through which landowners in the district, the city, and other stakeholders jointly discuss how to implement this tool.
Thanks, as always, for your interest, and don’t hesitate to reply if you have ideas on how we can make these bills better.
© 2017 Kirk Watson Texas Senator All Rights Reserved
Political advertisement paid for by Kirk Watson Campaign,
P.O. Box 2004, Austin, TX, 78768; Rosie Mendoza,Treasurer.