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Press Release
February 2, 2001
Contact: Doris Sanchez
(512) 463-0127
Sen. Lucio files measure to allow Border counties limited ordinance making authority to improve living conditions

AUSTIN, TX--Today state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, filed Senate Bill 517 to provide Border counties the necessary tools to combat the proliferation of colonias.

"For years Border counties have requested from the state limited local ordinance making authority to try to combat the development of colonias," stated Sen. Lucio, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs. "SB 517 allows the commissioners court of a Border county the authority to regulate land development in the unincorporated area of the county," said Sen. Lucio.

Adding his support to the legislation, Hidalgo County Judge Jose Eloy Pulido said, "The rapid growth in rural areas, especially along the Border, must have planned, regulated development in order to maintain reasonable standards and a decent quality of life for residents. SB 517 will help us do just that.

"This bill will give us the code enforcement we need to better regulate county land," added Judge Pulido. "It is long overdue and I appreciate Sen. Lucio's responsiveness and action on this issue."

Specifically, SB 517 allows Border counties to adopt rules that affect: the size of lots; the height, number of stories, size and number of buildings on a lot; the percentage of a lot that may be occupied; and the location of buildings or other structures on a lot. The measure also allows counties to adopt building codes to promote safe and uniform building, plumbing and electrical standards in unincorporated areas of Border counties.

"This bill offers the Texas Legislature the opportunity to remedy a major problem by allowing counties to institute reasonable regulation of development," stated El Paso County Judge Dolores Briones. "Cities already have this authority. Most developers already adhere to these standards. However, along the Texas-Mexico Border, we have experienced a rash of construction that ignores the long-term, well-being of the families who will live in the developments."

Judge Briones added, "We are grateful to Sen. Lucio for filing the bill, and we will join him in urging its passage."

Senator Lucio also included a provision in the bill that allows a municipal ordinance to prevail over a county ordinance when there is a conflict within the municipality's jurisdiction.

"This is a very sensible and comprehensive measure that gives counties the authority they've been lacking all along the Border," said Sen. Lucio.

NOTE: Director of Legislation and of Border Affairs, Mr. Daniel Esparza, is handling SB 517.