Growing Pains

I’m not talking about the typical growing pains we sometime experience as people but this is about cities and communities. This can cause a big pain for the landowners which in general are just average people.

I have seen all the small towns around Austin grapple with suburban sprawl. Almost every one of them have tried to imitate Austin with their ordinances. In fact I can’t think of any that haven’t. While it is incumbent on the city leaders to move to protect what’s within their purview, it always comes too fast and furious for the residents to become acclimated. Therefore many will see definite overreach by these cities and towns.

My case in point has to do with the City of Georgetown. We own 10 acres that we purchased about 30 years ago, that was a couple of miles out of town. It was mostly bought as a long term investment.

About 10 or 12 years ago as the 130 Toll Road was being talked about, we saw that it would go right along side the property we own. That sounded like a pretty good deal for us. That is until the City of Georgetown decided to annex it to control what happened along that growth corridor. So our taxes went up. Oh well, the property was going to be worth so much more !

We were in no hurry to sell, but with higher and higher taxes we decided it was time to part with it, several years ago. To date no one will buy it because the city set the zoning to be such that only something like a high rise office building could work there. That’s what their master plan had zoned for in that corridor.

The several persons we had that were interested in it were wanting to put self-storage with boat and RV storage. The city would have none of that even though it’s far from anything else. If I was guessing I don’t see any major development of the sort they are planning for, at least for 20 or 30 years.

I made the pitch to them that allowing another use now and then far into the future when that commercial building frenzy takes off out that way, that supply and demand would take over and a more valuable use would then be realized. That way they would get more tax dollars into the treasury now. But nothing doing.

So that leaves us with property that we have to pay taxes on for the rest of our lives with no way to benefit from it. So much for long range planning. Yes, we could spend thousands of dollars on attorneys to try to get the zoning changed, but it could be chasing a rabbit down a hole.

These situations hit people everyday where little or nothing can be done. If only the city leaders could look deep enough into others situations and say “what if that was me”.

Since I originally wrote this, we did sell the property last year and made a nice profit. But that doesn’t change the fact that we were held hostage by city leaders being unreasonable for many years.

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