Knowing they were limited on what they legally can and cannot do to a subdivision in the county, Atascosa County Commissioners stood by Verdi residents in a show of admirable support Monday morning by taking no action concerning approval of preliminary plat and construction plans for the Verdi Acres Subdivision.
“I strongly believe that Judge Hurley and our commissioners are genuinely supportive of our community. They understand and appreciate the rich history behind the generations of people who have lived in the Verdi community. They, too, share the same concerns we have,” said Camilla Mares, Verdi resi- dent and business owner. “A no motion gives us a little bit of hope: that the owner of this property, Mr. Elias Woloski, will do the right thing and abandon the project and put the property back up for sale. We hope that with our pleas here today, [Woloski] will have a change of heart and realize that this is not the right investment for him.”
Mares and her husband, Pct. 1 Constable Miguel “Mike” Mares, live and own an RV park directly across from the proposed subdivision of 44 homesites on 30 acres off FM 1784. The couple were two of six people to speak during a public hearing Monday morning pleading with commissioners to not approve the subdivision. Residents also pleaded with Woloski to abide by their requests or take his business elsewhere.
Developer, engineer address concerns
At the Dec. 28 Commissioners Court meeting, four residents of the Verdi community raised various concerns about regulations in the Verdi Acres Subdivision.
Woloski attended Monday’s public hearing via Zoom, assuring residents that restrictions would be put into place and enforced. In addition, although not required, a fence would be placed along the subdivision, trees would be planted at the entrance, streetlights would be installed and water, electricity and drainage would be properly taken care of.
Walt Rakowitz with Rakowitz Engineering also addressed residents and commissioners on behalf of Woloski.
“Development is coming to our county. Particularly to the north end as people want to be closer to San Antonio. This developer is going all out with this subdivision. Is [Woloski] just taking the money and then going? No. He is invested into this property for the 30 years. This means he will need to maintain it in order to keep his property values up.”
Commissioner Mark Gillespie, Pct. 1, asked who was in charge of taking care of the roads and driveways of the subdivision: the county or the developer?
“The developer will be in charge of maintiaining them,” said Rakowitz. Woloski confirmed that any repairs needed are covered by him in the first two years.
Residents voice concerns
Mares spoke first on behalf of the Verdi community. She read all 33 pages of the Texas Local Government Code #212 and understood that Judge Hurley and the commissioners were limited when it comes to building a subdivision in a county and what they can or cannot ask a developer to do outside of these rules. She commended Woloski for doing a great job with his proposal, meeting all legal requirements.
“Mr. Woloski or one of his representatives committed to [Commissioners] in 2019 when he appeared before you to follow all Texas codes in Chapter 232. They also provided you all with bylaws and with the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions – hence HOA. They filed these documents with the Atascosa County Clerk’s office in November 2019,” said Mares. “Our concern here today is that the developer has failed to execute on the last portion of his commitment in developing this community – The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions for the Maravillas Subdivision.”
Mares spoke in detail how she and other Verdi residents spoke with homeowners of Maravillas about their management and restrictions. Each one said the same thing: there were little restrictions, and none were being enforced or some were and others not. She stated that Woloski was not holding up his end of the contract, thus showing why he was not vested in the Verdi community.
“I realize you have already made a big investment with this property, but I guarantee you [Mr. Woloski], that if you abandon your plans here, you will not have any problem selling this property. Please, we the residents of the Verdi community beg you to reconsider, change plans and find other pieces of land that will make a great community for residents of Atascosa County. The Verdi community residents and I are not only asking you to abandon [the Verdi Acres Subdivision], but we are also pleading for you to have a change of heart.”
Ricki Reyes, historian and ranch surveyor, spoke about the historical significance of the land the proposed subdivision was to be built on. He urged commissioners to take that into consideration. Danny Brown, Leming resident, offered perspective on a similar situation happening across from his property stating that a developer purchased 550 acres of land and is placing no restrictions to anyone who wishes to live on it. Blake Stanton, Verdi resident, expressed his concern for traffic flow on FM 1784. With 44 new homesites being built, the traffic flow would increase on the narrow two-way road. Sharon Caraway raised concerns about the elevation on the land and drainage issues that come with heavy rainfall. Constable Mares, Pct. 1, stated that Woloski did not take into consideration the Verdi community and should take note from the Poteet subdivision that is coming soon. Louis Castro Jr. expressed concerns from an environmental standpoint. Last to speak was Mia Luna who said she has a younger sister buried on that property, urging commissioners to take that into consideration.
“I understand your concerns and wish I could control the appearances of all of these locations. I will speak with our state representative and see what we can do,” said County Judge Bob Hurley to the Verdi residents.
Assistant County Attorney Trent Rowell stated that Woloski has met all county requirements and that the court has no legal objection to approving the subdivision. Depending on how they voted today, the county could be taken to district court.
Judge Hurley asked for a motion to be made.
Commissioner Gillespie stated he was abstaining from making a motion, a second or voting due to personal feelings about the subdivision.
“I feel that I cannot bring myself to make a decision for my constituents because I feel as they do about it and am too close to the situation,” he said.
Commissioners failed to make a motion on the subdivision.
Rakowitz explained that if no action was taken within 30 days of the proposed plan, it would automatically be approved and move forward. Should commissioners move to deny the plan, they need to state a legal reason why. Judge Hurley stated that no action was taken, so no explanation was needed.
He asked Rowell to take a look at what they voted in the Dec. 28 meeting and have the county attorney submit a written opinion on the issue to move forward.
At the time of press, there was no report from the county attorney’s office on what was to come with the Verdi Acres Subdivision. The Pleasanton Express will report any updates in coming issues.