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Burnet County considers lawsuit over possible ‘illegal subdivision’

Land in Florence, Texas, for sale

About 90 acres of land for sale in Florence on the Williamson County line was termed 'a potential unauthorized subdivision' on the agenda for the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting Nov. 9. The county is exploring a lawsuit against the developer for not following county subdivision regulations. Courtesy photo from MLS

Three new subdivisions are under scrutiny by the Burnet County Commissioners Court for possibly not following regulations. In one case, a road bond might be withheld; in another, a certified letter will be sent to a surveyor; and in the third, the county might file a lawsuit. 

“It’s difficulty day,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery at the Tuesday, Nov. 9, meeting in the county courthouse in Burnet. 

The morning began with statements from three women who live in Black Buck Ridge, a three-year-old subdivision on County Road 108 just south of the Lampasas County line. All three expressed concern with the poor condition of the private roads within the subdivision and asked commissioners to delay reimbursing Lone Star Land Partner’s bond until the issue can be addressed. 

“Our roads should not be falling apart in less than three years,” said subdivision resident Christine Lorence. “Things don’t look right, they don’t feel right. The initial base material is suspect.”

Residents hired a forensic road engineering company to evaluate if the road base used was under Texas Department of Transportation standards. The residents have been working with Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther and county Director of Development Services Herb Darling on the problem. 

No discussion by commissioners was allowed since the problem was presented during public comment and was not on the agenda. County Judge James Oakley promised it would be on a future agenda. 

The second problem concerns Burnet Central Appraisal District parcel #104817, located on County Road 407 in Dockery’s south county precinct. Landowner Donald Naumann came before commissioners to ask for a plat variance, needed because of what Oakley called “shortcomings on the surveyor’s part.”

“This is not ethical, it’s not responsible, but it sounds like you (Naumann) have operated in good faith,” Oakley continued.

The variance was granted so owners could receive 911 addresses. The plat will be “cleaned up” and brought back before the commissioners for final approval, Darling said.

A certified letter of complaint will be sent to the surveyor, commissioners decided.

The third problem could lead to a lawsuit against what the agenda item termed a “a potential unauthorized subdivision.” Commissioners agreed to hire Allison, Bass, and Magee LLP as outside council to send an initial letter to the Realtor selling lots from Burnet Central Appraisal District parcel #54145, located at 1338 Williamson County Road 222. The parcel is in Florence with a portion in Williamson County. 

According to MLS, the subdivision contains eight lots ranging from 11 to 11.9 acres each and selling for $26,500 per acre. Darling contacted the Realtor about problems with not following regulations. 

“The Realtor said he would sue my backside,” Darling told commissioners. “Once the ‘sue’ word is mentioned, by policy, I turn it over to the county attorney.” 

County Attorney Eddie Arredondo said the development “appears to be an illegal subdivision.” 

“Some of these landowners are going to come to Mr. Darling’s office asking for permits and 911 addresses, and it is our belief these should not be issued,” he said. “What we could do is disallow septic permits and 911 addresses. Another route is to file suit against (the Realtor) to get them to stop selling what lots are left.” 

“That’s where I’m at,” Oakley said. “We need to catch this before another sale occurs.”

Commissioners voted to have the county’s outside council contact the Realtor before deciding whether to proceed with a lawsuit. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com