GeoCarta Has Moved

May 20, 2005

Texas Legislature To Give Zoning Powers To Border Counties

The Valley Morning Star has reported on that the Texas Senate is considering a bill to give broader powers to border counties to regulate residential development. Senate Bill 684, would give counties along U.S.-Mexico border the power to enact building and zoning regulations for housing developments. The regulations were proposed as a way to prevent more colonias from being developed along the border.

Under the Texas Constitution, Texas counties' power to regulate land use is extremely limited. Some county governments have enacted their own laws, though I personally question the constititionality of them. The proposed bill would extend city-like powers to counties to regulate density, height, location, even the ability to require building permits. While the bill would not require counties to regulate development, it would allow them to do so. While the bill would only apply to border counties, I'd bet money that if enacted, more counties would come back in the next legislature and ask for the same powers.

Meanwhile, while Texas considers new land development regulations, Wisconsin is considering abolishing theirs. The Wisconsin legislature's budget committee voted last week to end the state's "Smart Growth" Law. The law requires Wisconsin communities to adopt a comprehensive plan by 2010. Though endorsed by some builders, realtors and environmental groups, it's been unpopular with some landowners and other opponents as an enfringement of private property rights.