A History of Excellence in Residential Subdivision Development
The professionals at C Faulkner Engineering, L.P., (CFE) have been providing assistance to owners, developers, real estate attorneys, and brokers for the better part of the last 30 years. We have assisted with the development process on thousands of acres of residential properties throughout the southwest and we understand the unique quirks of the development process.
Approach to Residential Development
We recommend that our clients authorize CFE to perform a development assessment at the outset of the residential development process. We evaluate the residential project by identifying five primary characteristics of the property: Zoning, Subdivision, Site Plan, Building Permit, and the Permit Process associated with each. During a Development Assessment, CFE also looks at more specific information including Geology and related subsurface soils conditions, Title and ALTA surveys, Restrictive Covenants including special easements and architectural guidelines, Access, Signage, Landscape, Screening, and Utilities including Impact Fees that are often tied to development of the property. Finally, CFE provides an assessment of Environmental conditions through a Phase I Environmental Assessment and through specialized assessments that look for endangered species and critical environmental geologic features.
On master-planned communities we begin the process by preparing a constraints map. The main purpose of the constraints map is to identify the aspects of the property which may impact the development of the property such as flood plains, City limits and ETJ boundaries, transportation master plans, environmental features and other potential constraints.
This constraints map is then used by the development team to analyze the density and type of development for the property. Once an estimate of the overall density has been determined, we begin the process of evaluating utility constraints including the availability of regional water and wastewater systems and the cost to connect into a system, if available. If regional systems are not available, we evaluate the feasibility of working with the State Legislature and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to create a Utility District and develop a water and/or wastewater system for the development.
Development Agreement Expertise
Master-planned communities often benefit from a “Development Agreement” between the developer and the various regulatory jurisdictions (Cities, counties, etc.). The main purpose of the development agreement is to establish the design parameters for the overall project including the benefits to the various jurisdictions. The development agreement can establish who the utility providers will be, what the development constraints may be, what the overall entitlement process will look like and what the timing of the overall project will follow.
In each of these communities, development and construction are governed by a set of design standards and land use restrictions which provide the community with stability, control and predictability. A key to the predictability of these development standards is the proper construction and negotiation of a “development agreement” between the community and the regulating agencies. Development agreements establish the framework that controls development standards and the regulatory processes required for approval of the development standards. Development Agreements typically address issues such as traffic and transportation, landscaping, signage, architecture, water quality, and land use. Development agreements also establish development fee structures for regional facilities and amenities. CFE has developed a reputation as the Central Texas engineering expert in the creation and implementation of development agreements for master-planned communities.
Understanding Master-Planned Development Infrastructure Financing
Master-planned communities often require unique financing vehicles to make the projects financially viable. In Texas, Municipal Utility Districts are the most common method of major infrastructure financing. A Municipal Utility District (MUD) is a political subdivision of the State of Texas authorized by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to provide water, sewage, drainage and other services within the MUD boundaries.
A majority of property owners in the proposed district petition the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality to create a MUD. The TCEQ evaluates the petition, holds a public hearing, and grants or denies the petition. After approval, the TCEQ appoints five temporary members to the MUD's Board of Directors, until an election is called to elect permanent Board members to confirm the MUD's creation, and to authorize bonds and taxing authority for bond repayment. The publicly elected Board of Directors manages and controls all of the affairs of the MUD subject to the continuing supervision of the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. The Board establishes policies in the interest of its residents and utility customers. A MUD may adopt and enforce all necessary charges, fees and taxes in order to provide district facilities and services.
In addition to their common functions of water and wastewater service, MUDs are legally empowered to engage in conservation, irrigation, electrical generation, firefighting, solid waste collection and disposal, and recreational activities (such as parks, swimming pools, and sports courts). A MUD can provide for itself the recreational amenities that are approved by the Board of Directors and funded by the District.
Can we share our interest in serving you? Please feel free to call J. Carroll Faulkner, P.E., at 512.426.9888 anytime, or at