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Real estate broker threatens to sue Burnet County over subdivision

Prairie Acres, a subdivision on the Burnet-Williamson county line

Prairie Acres, a subdivision on the Burnet-Williamson county line, was given final plat approval by Burnet County commissioners after nearly two years of back-and-forth with the developer on the legality of the subdivision’s creation. Courtesy photo

Now that the plat for Prairie Acres subdivision in northeastern Burnet County is about to be officially filed with the county clerk’s office, real estate broker Jerry Seay said he plans to sue the county for intimidation and defamation of character — unless county commissioners apologize first. 

“The county attorney said, ‘It’s an illegal subdivision,’” Seay told “(Prairie Acres) is not an illegal subdivision. It never was.” 

Prairie Acres is a 247-acre development with 19 plots of over 11 acres each. Normally, a subdivision with plots of more than 10 acres each does not require permits or plats. Because a road was built in the development, different regulations apply. With the presence of a public road, property owners have to sign the plat agreeing to pay for future road maintenance.

Seay has disagreed with that assessment since the issue first came before the Burnet County Commissioners Court in November 2021. When he stood his ground, despite complaints from angry property owners, commissioners voted to send a certified letter of complaint, including a cease-and-desist order to Seay and developer Brad Parker. Seay continued to sell the last few remaining lots.

At the time, Seay also threatened to sue Burnet County Development Director Herb Darling. 

“We have an outside law firm for this reason,” County Attorney Eddie Arredondo told after hearing that Seay was once again threatening to legal action. “That’s originally what this was all about. We’ve been working with the developer, things have been modified and changed. We are glad to see that, in the end, the subdivision is now going to become a legal subdivision.”

That phrase, “illegal subdivision,” is what has Seay particularly fired up. 

“It is not an illegal subdivision. It never was,” he said. 

He disputes the commissioners’ interpretation of the road requirement. 

“We only have one major road, and it’s in Williamson County,” Seay said. “It’s been a private road for more than 15 years. Williamson County doesn’t have a problem with it. Burnet County has no authority to regulate a private road.” 

All but 100 feet of that road is in Burnet County, said Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle. He quoted Chapter 232 of Texas’ Local Government Code for regulation of subdivisions. 

“If you build a road, you have to plat,” Beierle said. “We disagree with him (Seay). We followed the advice of our county attorney. We followed all our legal advice.” 

According to Seay, the developer agreed to the county’s requirements and spent over $600,000 bringing the road up to standards. All 19 property owners signed the plat, agreeing to be held responsible for road maintenance, which led commissioners to finally sign off on the subdivision at their June 27 meeting. 

However, some property owners say they are still waiting for action.

“We are still a long way off from getting our 911 numbers,” said property owners Donna and Lee Schiel on Monday, July 17. “We are still waiting for the plat to be filed with the county clerk’s office. We’re now in another holding pattern.” 

The problem, according to Beierle, is that one of the property owners had not paid their property taxes. 

“That was paid online recently, and it takes a certain amount of time to go through the system,” Beierle said. “The engineer (in charge of the plat) said he thinks it will be filed this week, then everyone can get their 911 addresses, file for septic permits, and be able to apply for a loan to build.” 

Which brings this story to the issue of intimidation. Seay said a Burnet County official told him and the property owners that if they did not follow the county’s guidelines, no one would respond to their 911 calls.

“That’s illegal,” Seay said. “That’s using government and police powers to threaten. I don’t like government entities taking advantage of people.” 

According to Beierle, that is not what was said. 

Seay, developer Parker, and the property owners were told at an unofficial meeting and during a Commissioners Court meeting, both attended by this reporter, that without 911 addresses, first responders would not know where to go in an emergency. 

Bottom line, said both County Attorney Arredondo and Beierle, the subdivision is now in compliance. 

“There’s always going to be different opinions on issues,” Arredondo said. “We believe that the matters are settled and that the owners of the property are going to be able to move forward. His (Seay’s) threat to sue is nothing different than before.” 

Seay said he has yet to determine what redress he will seek if he files suit.

“The developer has to decide whether he wants the monetary value of the changes he made to meet Burnet County’s demands back or not,” he said.