If the former O’Quinn Ranch is ever developed under pending municipal utility district rules, its developer will ostensibly be prohibited from using water from the Trinity or Edwards aquifers and will be required to build a wastewater treatment plant under amendments approved by both the Texas House and Senate on Friday.
Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, have caught hell from constituents across the political spectrum for carrying legislation that would allow the LaMantia beer distributor family to form a special purpose district on 4,055 acres of the storied former O’Quinn Ranch on the banks of the Blanco River between San Marcos and Wimberley. The ranch has also been the Fulton and McCoy Ranch over the years.
Isaac says the amended version of the Needmore Ranch MUD legislation answers most objections. The House approved Isaac’s amendments on the floor May 10 but has yet to pass the bill, though even critics of the MUD say passage is a near certainty. The Senate has already approved an amended version of the bill.
“The primary concern about the proposed legislation centered around the availability of water in the Wimberley valley. The amendment I filed today thoroughly addresses these concerns and ensures the continued protection of our area’s natural resources,” Isaac said in a written statement.
In the new bill, the district must build a costly wastewater treatment plant “in the event that a residential subdivision or planned community is developed in the territory of the district.” In addition, a developer “shall import water to provide for the needs of that development” from “a source outside the Edwards Aquifer and the Trinity Aquifer.”
Opponents of the MUD, including County Judge Bert Cobb and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, have said that LaMantia wants the legislation to increase the value of a conservation easement on the ranch but have argued that Campbell’s and Isaac’s bills did nothing to prevent creation a calamitous quasi-city with the authority to annex its neighbors and then tax them.
The recent amendments require that two-thirds of property owners consent to annexation by the Needmore Ranch MUD and says that it can use eminent domain only for the purpose of securing water for a future development.
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