Fulshear City Council adopts water fee, approves development agreement

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 12/21/20

Fulshear City Council adopted a development agreement with DR Horton for about 1,300 acres to be developed into residential housing. They also adopted, as required by state law, an increase to the …

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Fulshear City Council adopts water fee, approves development agreement

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Fulshear City Council adopted a development agreement with DR Horton for about 1,300 acres to be developed into residential housing. They also adopted, as required by state law, an increase to the North Fort Bend Regional Water Authority fees that are passed through the city to residents through water bills at their Dec. 15 meeting.

“Unfortunately, while staff recommends (accepting the fee increase), I also know that we have no choice but to recommend (it) and we’re going to continue to fight that – at least, that’s my promise to you all – through legislation and conversations,” Mayor Aaron Groff said. 

Costly water

The NFBRWA is a regional water authority created by the 79th Texas Legislature in May of 2005 with the purpose of reducing subsidence – the sinking of land due to water being pumped out from beneath it – and encourage water conservation practices as well as a move to surface water. The fees on residents’ water bills will be set at $4.25 per 1,000 gallons of groundwater pumped or $4.60 per 1,000 gallons of surface water pumped per business or household. This is an increase from the prior year’s rate of $3.95 per 1,000 gallons of groundwater and $4.30 per 1,000 gallons of surface water. The water authority pumpage fees apply to all Municipal Utility Districts and cities within the boundaries of the North Fort Bend Water Authority including the Cinco Ranch area and the city of Katy. Funds raised through the fees are required to be used for projects that educate the public on water conservation or convert the region from groundwater to surface water usage, according to the NFBWA website.

 Council Member Debra Cates said she felt it was important that the city explain to residents that, while they have no choice but to accept the water authority’s fee increase due to legislation, they are not necessarily in favor of the increase which is a continuation of the fees increasing annually for the past several years.

Council Member Joel Patterson said that, given his experience in geology and associated issues with subsidence, he would like the city to push to get its own individual membership on the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District which oversees the water authorities in the Greater Houston area.

Groff said he would continue to push for representation on that board and would work to ensure representation for the city at all levels associated with the fees, especially given what he felt was a lack of progress on the part of the NFBRWA and the subsidence district.

“I do think the public generally understands what’s happening now,” Groff said. “The problem is we’re not seeing that return and the fees continue to grow, and they haven’t hit their deadlines. … There’s a whole lot of pieces in play that I think continue to frustrate our constituents. In addition to the cost, we’re paying for something that we’re not getting and that’s a hard pill to swallow.”

Growth agreement

After a closed session to discuss the issue, Fulshear City Council members also approved a development agreement with DR Horton for the development of a residential area consisting of about 1,300 acres within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ.

Groff said the city had gotten several beneficial concessions from the developer including about seven acres to accommodate a regional water treatment plant after Fort Bend MUD 222 operates a temporary wastewater treatment plant there for the initial phase of the subdivision’s development.

The development agreement includes a 26-acre section of parkland that is expected to bring ball fields to the city, Groff said.

Representatives from the developer said that, while about 3,700 single family homes with an average lot size of about 6,000 square feet will be built – about 25% of which may be 4,500 square feet or less – around 1,800 multi-family homes such as apartments, condos or duplexes may be built on the property as the final plans for it develop.

Other items

  • Council approved a variance for the monument sign at Jordan High School. The variance was approved despite the sign which is already installed being about twice the allowed height due to a former city staff member’s error. Replacing the sign could have cost the district as much as $60,000 per Katy ISD General Counsel Justin Graham who spoke at the meeting.
  • Council also approved an agreement with Fort Bend County to extend Bois D’Arc Lane directly north from its intersection at McKinnon Road to FM 1093 at Tiki Drive. City staff said this extension was expected to improve traffic flow in the area, especially during times when parents and students are travelling on Charger Way in the morning and afternoon as classes begin or end at the schools that serve the city.

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