Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series exploring the growth and cooperation in the area between Guadalupe and Comal counties.
It’s no surprise that New Braunfels’ and Seguin’s population growth over the past decade affects one another — but development now taking place between the two communities is reshaping what has been agricultural land in the past.
With both cities sitting along a major interstate and playing host to major industrial developments, they mirror each other in many ways — but the developments directly between the two have different impacts on each.
The two cities, as well as Comal and Guadalupe counties, often work together to manage the development and growth between the two.
The extra territorial jurisdictions — the area right outside of a city’s limits where it has limited power to shape development — for both cities back up against one another.
That means developments within these area often require finessing with both cities and counties, and can directly change each other.
“We actually talk quite a bit between the two planning departments,” said Chris Looney, planning and community development director for the city of New Braunfels. “We have a good relationship — there have coincidentally been some (items) that have come up that has given us a chance to work together.”
State specifics rule how development can occur within an ETJ, Looney said. Every city over a certain population has an ETJ, and every city’s ETJ is dependent on its population.
“New Braunfels reviews developments within theirs and Seguin reviews it if it’s within theirs,” Looney said. ““If there’s any overlap like with the ETJ exchange — some of a development started in New Braunfels ETJ and went into Seguin’s, so as Seguin needs information we happily provide it and give them materials, and vice versa — it’s very free flowing.”
Looney used the Navarro Farms subdivision development as a specific example, a 317-acre master planned community of single family housing by broker and developer Kelly Leach set between the two cities.
“Part of the development was set in the ETJ of Seguin, part of it was in the ETJ of New Braunfels,” Leach said, explaining an ETJ swap that occurred last year. “The two cities got together and got all of our track set so it’s now in ETJ of New Braunfels.”
The development, which is set to build 1,500 lots, helped bring Seguin’s sewage out to this area.
“The city of Seguin didn’t have a sewer line out there, so (my group) partnered with the city to extend the sewer line up FM 123 to our track (of land) and that helped bring service out to that entire area,” Leach said. “It was one of those deals where everybody helped everyone.”
Although the development sits within New Braunfels ETJ, it will continue to get sewage service from Seguin, and will get its utilities from Crystal Clear, Leach said.
“The constraining factor out there was sewage, and so with the extension of the sewer from the city … you’ll see tremendous growth because of the sewer extension,” Leach said.
Seguin works with developers and the city of New Braunfels hand in hand to manage the growth between the two areas, said Rick Cortes, assistant city manager for the city of Seguin.
“When it comes to our growth, we’ve extended infrastructure down SH 46 and east of that,” Cortes said. “We have about 5,600 homes that have been platted for review (north of I-10) — we have growth on all sides of the city.”
The area between the two cities is prime for development, Cortes said.
“We’re at a great spot — we’re bisected by two major highways, and there’s plenty of growth for jobs,” Cortes said.
The platting and planning process mostly goes through the cities and not the counties, since the developments are mostly happening in their ETJs, said Tom Hornseth, Comal County engineer.
Hornseth said when he’s listened to city planners in the region, it was quite an eye opener to see intensity of development in that region.
“It’s relentless down there,” Hornseth said.