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Developers Clear Cut Land
Sunday, 16 October 2005

Express-News Investigative Report Uncovers Development Abuse
In the past five years, members of the real estate industry who have publicly supported the vested rights law paid more than $4 million in campaign contributions to Texas lawmakers and spent at least $11.7 million in lobbying fees. 
During that time, legislators filed several bills that broadened the type of plans that could trigger exemptions.
Losing Ground - Law lets developers ignore growth controls 
An obscure Texas law written for developers has cost San Antonio millions of dollars, stripped parts of the scenic Hill Country of trees and blocked attempts to protect the region's water supply. The "vested rights" law stops cities from imposing new restrictions on a real estate project once a developer files virtually any kind of plan for it.  From that point on, the project is "vested" and frozen in a time warp of more lenient city codes.   

Read Express News Original Article Day One

Read more...


Day Two
          
Dig up an old plan, get vested
           
Priced out of protection

Day Three
           When S.A. said, 'Stop,' Austin said, 'Go ahead'
           Avoiding rules they wrote
          

Clear cut evidence

Developers say most projects exempted from city tree ordinances are built responsibly. But even a few clear cuts can span hundreds of acres.

Bulverde Village
Developers and builders cleared more than 600 acres of trees for a 2,000-home subdivision. The property had been covered with mountain cedar, live oak, Texas oak, persimmon and mesquite trees, according to a 2002 survey of the site.

2000
 

2004


Encino Ridge
Builder Pulte Homes cleared more than 50 acres in May 2004. Pulte insisted most of the site was covered with pesky mountain cedar trees. Neighbors remember seeing a healthy mix of live oaks. Wooded properties near Encino Ridge are thick with oaks and cedar.

2003


2004

 

The Rim
Roughly 20 acres of trees were turned to mulch to make room for "The Rim," a commercial project that includes a new Bass Pro shop.

2003


2004

Images provided by GlobeXplorer, TerraServer

Pulte Clear Cut 52 acres 

"The trees were bulldozed to make room for Encino Ridge, a dense neighborhood by national chain Pulte Homes, one of San Antonio's largest builders. The Michigan-based company took in a record $11.7 billion in gross revenue last year."  Express-News

  

Builder may be cited for felling trees
Housing developer George Suniga has learned the hard way about city ordinances for protecting trees -- and it might cost him $10,000. Suniga's city-approved development plan requires that he spare some of the trees at his Waln Creek Estates subdivision, which is under construction near Liberty Road S and Holder Lane. But a maple, a spruce and three fir trees that were supposed to be saved were removed, irking neighbors who were assured that the trees would be left alone. See other related articles and opinions...   Read more... 




 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
Economic Armageddon


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