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Speakers Protest Development At City Council, But Can Council Do Anything?

San Antonio City Council last night heard three hours of pleas from opponents of a high-density housing development who said it will be the beginning of the end of the Bracken Bat Cave.

Dozens of speakers came to ask council to prohibit SAWS from building sewer lines to the Comal County project.

Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance Executive Director Annalisa Peace told the council that the Crescent Hill subdivision will exceed the city’s 15 percent impervious cover limit by crowding houses together on a land just north of the Bexar County line and south of the Bracken Bat Cave.

"They’re planning on putting around 3,800 people on 1,500 acres," Peace said.

Susan Hughes, vice-chair of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board, asked the council to carefully consider the effects of a high-density development on the city’s water supply, as well as the bat cave.

"Please do whatever is necessary to protect this natural resource and the Edwards Aquifer. Furthermore, honor the citizens of San Antonio who have voted overwhelmingly three different times to approve a sales tax specifically to protect the Aquifer Recharge Zone," Hughes said.

SAWS Vice-President of Public Affairs, Greg Flores, said the city cannot prevent SAWS from running sewer lines to the development.

"SAWS under state law is obligated to serve this development in the city’s ETJ because we’re certificated by the state to serve in that area," Flores said.

The question of council authority has been the crux of the discussion.

A SAWS board member wrote a letter to the city saying he did not believe the state law mandates SAWS provide service to the area.

A total of 34 speakers opposed the development, and no one spoke in favor of it.

Finally, Hughes posed a question to the council members about the bats that eat tons of mosquitoes and crop pests in South Texas every night.

"Who of you have been to the Bracken Bat Cave?" she asked.

No one on the council answered.

Hughes responded, "Well, I would propose that it’s time for you to take a field trip."

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.