Saturday, July 11, 1998

The Pitch

Developer seeks to create two utility districts,

Finance plan for project north of Round Rock includes $600,000 for baseball stadium

July 11, 1998

Dylan Rivera
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 1998

ROUND ROCK -- A California developer wants to create two municipal utility districts to finance construction of about 2,200 houses, an 18-hole golf course and recreational trails just north of Round Rock.

Newland Associates of La Jolla, Calif., hopes to start building utilities, a golf course and hiking trails for its development, called Stonewater, by the end of this year, said Jim Powell, project manager for Newland. The company also plans to contribute $600,000 toward construction of facilities for a minor league baseball team.

The company bought 895 acres of the 1,510-acre Margaret Nash family ranch in January and has a contract to buy the remainder, which it also plans to develop. Powell and other Newland officials presented their plans to the City Council for the first time Thursday night.

Municipal utility districts, or MUDs, have been controversial because of disputes that arise over annexation. Developers and cities create the districts to speed growth in areas where it it would be unaffordable for a city to extend utilities.

Most of the tract is in Round Rock's extraterritorial jurisdiction, a ring of land around the city where the city has limited control over development. A northern portion is in Georgetown's jurisdiction and the company may try to form a utility district there, Powell said.

City officials said Thursday they think the plan will allow them to annex the subdivision faster than they could with some other utility districts in the area. Proposed annexation of the Brushy Creek MUD has been controversial because the district contains more than
2,000 acres and would be costly to annex, Round Rock officials have said.

"There shouldn't be the contentiousness that we had with Brushy Creek,'' Mayor Charlie Culpepper said.

As part of a proposed development agreement between the city and the developers, Newland will pay Round Rock 8 percent of the revenue it receives from bond sales, expected to total $2.5 million over the 12-year construction time. The council could vote on the development agreement by the end of August, city officials said.

In addition to the money from bond proceeds, Newland will give the city about $200,000 per year for the next three years to help finance construction of a minor-league baseball stadium the city is hoping to build, Powell said.

"We feel that baseball in Round Rock will add significantly to the quality of life for the entire
community and the neighborhoods we intend to build for our citizens,'' Powell told the council.

The $200,000 payments can be used for any baseball-related project, including roads or other facilities near the stadium, said Pete Peters, spokesman for Newland. The contributions would be canceled if the team does not move to Round Rock from Jackson, Miss., as its owners have proposed, Peters said.

In addition to the residential areas of Stonewater, there are tracts of commercial land with frontage on Interstate 35 the city can annex as soon as parcels are developed, Powell said.

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