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Commissioners Approve Controversial Century Oaks Development

Eileen Pace

Residents are opposed to the densely-designed neighborhood, saying it would adversely affect the water supply and endangered species. Last year, County Commissioners postponed their approval to do further research and to put pressure on the developers to address the concerns of the surrounding property owners.

Residents and water conservationists had expressed concern that the property over the Edwards Aquifer had a high impervious cover ratio that would cause harm to the water supply.

Developer Gordon Hartman said that’s not what the protest was about, saying that instead homeowners wanted some sort of a buffer between their larger-lot neighborhood and the new subdivision he will put in. 

"And there’s been a lot of other discussion about birds and water, but I think that’s when you talk with the homeowners, that's the discussion they want to have. I have met with them now for numerous hours on two different occasions. I think we’re having good dialogue and we’ll continue to do that," Hartman said.

The neighbors claimed that with an estimated 47 percent impervious cover rate, Hartman is in violation of the statute limiting developments over the aquifer to 15 percent impervious cover. However, County Commissioner Kevin Wolff said the subdivision is grandfathered, and the county now has power to change the law, even though they may not agree with it.

“One of the things I think is really nice especially about this state, is that we are property rights state. And so there’s a balance in there someplace, and when you look at things like the aquifer and recharge, you know, you say, ‘Well, that’s for a greater good.’ And should our powers be greater in regards to how development is done there, etc., yeah, I could probably argue yes,’’ Wolff said.

Since the county first postponed its decision, the two sides have come to the table, and since all the paperwork has been filled out, commissioners put their stamp of approval on the property this week.

  • Hartman's new real estate company is called Shaggy Development, who is one of the developers of the Century Oaks project; there is no website available for the company.
Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.