The entrance to an illegal subdivision in Burnet County is in Williamson County. Two of the front lots are partially in Williamson County, but the majority of the 18 total lots are in Burnet County, which is working with the developer to come into compliance so owners can start building. All of the lots have been sold, some after the developer was told to cease. Courtesy photo
Lee Schiel is a U.S. Marine veteran and a quadriplegic. He and his wife, Donna, who live in Georgetown, purchased 12 acres on the Burnet-Williamson county line in February that came with a developer’s promise of no permitting issues because of the size of the lot. What the Schiels found out after buying and scheduling delivery of a barndominium they intend as their home is that none of that was true.
“We are in a real dilemma,” Lee Schiel said. “We have to make a mortgage payment on property we don’t know will be a buildable lot.”
The land in question is Parcel #54145 at 1338 CR 222, an address in Williamson County, although only portions of the front two lots are in that county. The rest of the acreage, which has been completely sold to 18 lot owners, is on Burnet County Road 217. Currently, only one building — where the previous owners lived — exists on the property.
It was determined to be an illegal subdivision by Burnet County in November 2021 when commissioners voted to hire outside counsel to look into the situation. Texas law states that lots over 11 acres do not require permitting; however, if the developer puts in a road, that goes out the window, said Burnet County Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle.
“If you build a road, you have to plat,” he told DailyTrib.com. “And they built a road right down the middle. That’s the part where we initially started to disagree, but the statute is pretty clear.”
When the developer was informed of the need for a plat, he said he would start the process to get one, according to Beierle. That was at the end of last year.
“Then, they continued to sell lots until they were sold out,” Beierle continued. “I think they thought we would just let them do it, but we are not going to allow that in Burnet County.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 10, Beierle, Burnet County Development Director Herb Darling, and several lot owners, including the Schiels, plan to meet with developer Brad Parker at the site to discuss what needs to happen next.
“The developer reached back out to us and said he wanted to do what it takes to be in compliance,” Beierle said. “We gave them a list of what it will take. We meet with them Wednesday to get everybody on the same page as we start the process. The county cannot issue permits on illegally divided land.”
The law requires a subdivision to submit a plat to the county development division with a completed water study and road specifications that meet county standards. Without a plat, property owners cannot obtain septic permits or be issued a 911 address, all of which are required to build a house and occupy the property.
“(The developer) told us in February we could begin building as soon as the road was complete,” Donna Schiel said. “That was completed at the end of March. If that road doesn’t pass permitting, they will have to redo it. It all depends on the developer. How much money is the seller going to have to kick in to make it right?”
The developer is showing good faith to bring the property in compliance, Beierle said.
“As long as they keep doing that, it will be fine,” he said. “Ultimately, we want it done correctly so our residents can get what they need done to their properties.”
The county has a punch list of 13 items. The Schiels said they are bringing their own list, which is longer.
“Our hope for the Wednesday meeting is that this nightmare goes away,” Lee Schiel said.