U.S. Water News Online
HARLINGEN, Texas -- The state is suing a Cameron County
developer for selling residential land plots without water and sewage
service in violation of laws meant to stop the spread of shanty towns
known as colonias, Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
Harlingen resident Eric Solis, developer of Toribio Estates, is
accused in the lawsuit of illegally selling four residential lots
without obtaining required approval from county officials and of
failing to install or guarantee water and wastewater services.
Solis could not be reached for comment. A phone number at his last
known address was out of service.
Under anti-colonia laws strengthened in 1995, Solis could be fined
$10,000 to $15,000 for each of the lots.
Paco Felici, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said
this was the third time Abbott's office was using the anti-colonia
statutes to go after a developer.
Colonias proliferated during the 1980s when developers sold
parcels of unimproved land outside city limits at easy terms &emdash;
often to recent Mexican immigrants. There are now an estimated 2,300
colonias dotting the Texas-Mexico border.
Heavy rains would turn the colonias into quagmires because it had
no drainage systems and the lack of sanitation caused health
As of Nov. 30, 2005, the state has spent about $505 million
bringing such services to the colonias. It is the largest of several
public and nonprofit programs that have been doing so, Water
Development Board spokeswoman Carla Daws said.
David Garcia, assistant director of the Cameron County Department
of Transportation, said they began working with Abbott's office on
the case about two years ago.
He said other alleged colonia developers also have been
"There's a lot of people out there that make a mistake or don't
know the process, but these have not been identified on just one or
two cases," Garcia said. "These are people that have periodic
infractions, have a history."
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