The entrance to an illegal subdivision on the Burnet and Williamson county line. 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
A meeting between the developer, original landowner, a Burnet County commissioner, and about eight angry purchasers of large lots in a new, but illegal, subdivision could lead to the happy sound of construction. The question is when.
“It’s possible permits could be issued in 60 days,” said Burnet County Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle, who was at the meeting. “We are waiting on the water study and getting the drawings for the preliminary plat.”
All 18 of the lots cut out of a former ranch in Florence were sold, many between November 2021 and February 2022, after the developer was notified by the Burnet County Commissioners Court that they were out of compliance with regulations. They were also told to stop selling until a plat had been submitted and approved. Plats require maps, water studies, and road bonds, none of which the developer was providing. No plat, no permits for septic systems and EMS addresses, the county said.
The developer kept selling, resulting in more angry landowners and, finally, a meeting called by Beierle to go over a punch list of what needs to be done before permits can be issued and building begins.
Work is actually underway on the land to bring it into compliance, according to Roseann and Todd McAlister, who can see it happening because they have been forced to live on their undeveloped property — off of the grid.
“We have solar panels for electricity, and we have to bring in water until we can get our permits,” Todd McAlister told DailyTrib.com. “We sold our house in November then closed on this property in January. We had nowhere else to go.”
Lee and Donna Schiel also sold their home thinking they could begin building right away on a lot they purchased in January. They are watching closely and counting the days.
The couple has since purchased a 2-acre lot in Kingsland in case they can’t get permits to build on the Florence property. Lee Schiel is a U.S. Marine veteran and a quadriplegic.
“We can’t take the chance,” he said. “I have a lot of medical equipment that has to be in place.”
The McAlisters and Schiels fear the work to gain compliance will take longer than anticipated, though both couples are happy it’s finally underway.
“We think the county is doing the right thing to make sure things are done right,” Roseann McAlister said. “They are protecting us. I feel it’s a good thing they did get involved. The way it was handled by the broker, that was not right.”
“I hope it sends a message to other developers that Burnet County will do what’s right for the sake of our citizens,” he said. “I’ve been following this all along and will continue to follow it so we can get our constituents the permits they need to build their dream homes as fast as possible.”