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Helotes-San Antonio Land Dispute Coming To A Resolution

The cities of Helotes and San Antonio may be close to a resolution on a land deal that would allow the landlocked smaller town to gain additional territory.

A negotiated deal is on the San Antonio City Council agenda next week.

For years, Helotes and its city leaders have been in discussions with San Antonio to acquire 6.7 square miles as part of that town’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). San Antonio offered a smaller piece, but Helotes Mayor Tom Schoolcraft rejected the offer.

"We said, 'Thank you very much, but it’s going require more than that for us to do or accomplish what we’re trying to do,' and that is decades into the future have a place for us to grow and have economic development," Schoolcraft said in an earlier interview.

That’s why this year the town sought the Texas Legislature’s help. Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, sponsored a bill that would have allowed Helotes and towns similar in size to take ETJ without San Antonio’s consent.

San Antonio city leaders believed that would have set a precedent for other small municipalities to seek land that’s within San Antonio’s ETJ.

The bill sparked city leaders on both sides to negotiate a deal so that legislation won't be necessary.

John Dugan, San Antonio's Planning and Community Development director, said negotiations have been productive, although they’ve gone back and forth several times.

"Basically, they're looking at residential development within a growth area that they're looking for for the future," he told the city council this week. "This will probably give them growth potential for 10 to 20 years."

Dugan said the extension runs northwest along Bandera Road until about a mile from the Helotes city limit. He said it equals an addition of about 7 square miles.

Schoolcraft said he's happy about the agreement that gives Helotes about 85 percent of its original proposal.

"However, the agreement remains contingent upon the approval of their council next week.  Once that approval is given - if it is given - I will say that we have accomplished our goal of increasing the ETJ for Helotes and are satisfied with the result," Schoolcraft said in an email.

"The legislation will continue until their [San Antonio’s City] Council approves the ETJ release next week," said Schoolcraft.

"Once that approval is given, we have agreed to not proceed with the legislative process," he said.

130416-Helotes story again-1-RL.mp3
April 16, 2013 story on Helotes Land Grab, featuring Helotes Mayor Tom Schoolcraft and his displeasure with San Antonio.

 *See previous story below

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.