U.S. Water News Online
AUSTIN, Texas -- Local water quality regulations and their impact on development have gone on trial in federal court here in Austin. In a lawsuit filed against the City of Austin, FM Properties Operating Co. has charged that a shift in voter-approved policy has created an atmosphere that has deprived the company of developing a tract of land into a housing subdivision.
At issue in the case is a local ordinance called Save Our Spring (SOS) that invokes strict guidelines for development in order to curtail pollution of Austin's famed Barton Springs and a stream by the same name. Even though FM Properties filed for a subdivision permit nearly a year before the SOS ordinance was passed by voters in August 1992, city officials have insisted that the development comply with the new law. Claiming that this compliance would result in financial losses ranging to $50 million, attorneys for the development firm have cited a state law known as House Bill 4 which says a city may not change water quality standards in the middle of a project.
Although Austin officials initially approved the plan for the subdivision, a subsequent permit for the site plan was denied under provisions of the SOS ordinance, which was passed by voters in the meantime. FM Properties filed suit last September.
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