Texas Land Use Trends: Live Blogging from Central Texas APA Seminar

I pulled out what I thought were the most interesting Texas land use trends and facts from the Central Texas American Planning Association’s (APA) Land Use Seminar: Legal Aspects of Central Texas Planning. Interspersed between the facts are a few questions that I had. I’d love for you to leave a comment below if you know the answers to my questions or if you have any other Texas land use trends that you’d like to share!

Sustainable Development & Financing

  • Tree farms are a good use for floodplains and wetlands. Interesting idea, but I wonder how they mow?
  • Open space is the new golf course. Homes in Allen, Texas backing open space sell for 30% more than the same home on a golf course.
  • Windmill as art and as pumping cistern to irrigate agricultural land. Not sure I buy windmill as art. Well, some windmills could be art. The one in question just looks like a windmill.
  • Ideal situation: get entitlements first. Then, platting & lot setbacks.
  • Majority of sustainable development projects have more than one financial incentive (i.e. TIF + additional incentive).
  • TIFS don’t have to be contiguous. See the Map of Dallas Transit Oriented Development (TOD) TIF.


  • If there is no comprehensive plan, zoning can serve as comp plan.
  • Austin zoning is complex: Base zoning + Neighborhood plans + Detailed design standards + Overlay/Combining categories
  • Complexities include conditional overlays (limit use in base zoning district or require greater setback); mixed use (residential and commercial in 1 building); and vertical mixed use – (commercial on 1st floor and residential on upper floors)
  • Must give notice to residents within 500 feet of zoning change. Is there a technology tool out there that pulls appraisal district addresses and names within 500 feet of parcels? Who pays for the letter to go out–the city, the developer, the zoning commission?

Environmental Permitting and Land Use

Environmental attorneys often need to work closely with Texas land use planners.

  • 3 typical permits: air, water & waste
  • 3 Types of Permits
  • Permit by Rule (easiest to get): Air & Water Quality
  • Standard/General Permits (little harder, little more expensive)
  • Individual Permits (expensive, take a long time)
  • Do you have to alert folks adjacent to the property with the permitted activity? Do you send them letters? If so, just individual permits or all 3 permits?

Land Use Data Needed for Environmental Permits

  • Property values, noise, dust, traffic, land use
  • Had to figure out who neighbors are within a quarter of a mile

Coal Mining & Land Use

  • Coal mining requires long term land use planning
  • Texas 5th largest coal producing state in US – 37 million tons
  • After mining, must plant trees, vegetation, wetlands. Opportunity for reuse.
  • Example: Alamo Quarry was the Alamo Cement Plant. The space has been converted to a golf course, residential facilities, and the Alamo Quarry Market–a 580,000 square-foot, open-air complex with dining, shopping and entertainment.

If you found this blog post about Texas land use trends to be interesting, you might be interested in the following blog posts:

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