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With major development on the horizon, Sullivan City approves subdivision regulations

The Sullivan City Commission approved subdivision regulations Tuesday, part of a long-term strategy to spur development.

Several developers — who own about 250 acres between them — approached the city during the past year with questions about streets, drainage and sidewalks. Mayor Leo Garcia said the questions prompted discussion about subdivision regulations.

SullivanCityLogo“I’m really excited,” Garcia said, adding that Sullivan City needed commonsense regulations and a process for reviewing subdivisions. “I don’t want to push the developers out by putting too many restrictions.”

Without any regulations, Sullivan City handled development projects on a case-by-case basis. The Hidalgo County Planning Department occasionally performed courtesy reviews for the city but didn’t provide day-to-day oversight.

That approach created uncertainty for developers, which made them hesitant to buy land and borrow money. Garcia said he hopes the subdivision regulations will assuage any concerns.

“Think of this, guys, as a foundation that you will continue to build upon,” said City Attorney Armando Marroquin.

Drafted by City Engineer Craig Gonzalez of Donna-based Urban Infrastructure Group, the subdivision regulations cover everything from street names to lot sizes.

For example:
> The regulations require sidewalks on both sides of every new street. Sidewalks in multi-family developments and commercial areas must be 5 feet wide.
> The regulations set the minimum lot size for a new, single-family home at 5,000 square feet. A single-family home must include parking for at least two vehicles. Homes with more than four bedrooms must include additional parking.
> Alleys in new neighborhoods must be owned and maintained by the local homeowners association. Alleys must be at least 50 feet wide; half-alleys aren’t allowed.

After approving the regulations, the City Commission discussed a development agreement with Bazbar LLC, which wants to build several subdivisions.

The company, which is owned by the Bazan Barrera family of Mission, wants to develop about 140 acres on the north side of Sullivan City. Company representatives didn’t attend the meeting and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Bazbar bought a large, L-shaped property north of U.S. 83 between El Pinto Road and El Faro Road last year, according to Hidalgo County Appraisal District records.

The family owned company previously handled small jobs, including brush-clearing and utility work, for the city of Peñitas and the La Joya Independent School District.
Garcia, who co-owned a business with a member of the Bazan Barrera family, briefly considered recusing himself from the discussion.

“He’s a good friend of mine,” Garcia said. “So, at this point, I don’t know if it would be a good idea for me — I don’t vote anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”

Bazbar wants to build large ranch homes on part of the property, said police Chief Richard Ozuna, who doubles as the interim city manager. The ranch homes would sit on 5.01-acre tracts, which would exempt them from some regulations.

That part of the development may be gated, Ozuna said. Bazbar would build several neighborhoods with standard single-family homes on the remaining land.

After the discussion, the City Commission voted to approve a “builder’s developer agreement” with Bazbar, but didn’t actually discuss the terms or review a written agreement. The City Commission may discuss the details at a future meeting.

“And if this happens, I really see the infrastructure coming up, properties being sold, taxes being collected,” Ozuna said, adding that the subdivision represented a major opportunity for the city. “Anybody that comes in to try to develop something, whether it’s business or residential, it’s future growth for Sullivan.”

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