El Paso

El Paso County to reexamine development standards

Public Works Director retiring at end of year

EL PASO, Texas - County Commissioners Monday unanimously approved examining and changing policies when it comes to approving subdivisions and developments in unincorporated areas.

Unlike cities, the county has limited abilities to regulate new developments across the county. State law does give the County control over subdividing standard lot sizes. This is normally done when developers want to sell properties and need to install water and septic services in new developments.

Public Works Director Pat Adauto asked commissioners to look into building standards because of a large number of variances in building standards the county granted over the years.

Adauto made several suggestions on how to fix the problem and make it easier to get certain minor variances approved without having to go before commissioners for approval.

"We want to look at everything - lot size, set backs, the lot-to-width ratio, etc., as the minimum standards in the regulations," Adauto said.

There will also be an ad-hoc committee formed to look at the policies and recommendations made, likely to me made up of county staff and developers as well as a commissioner.

"If we don't have some level of enforcement, what good is having the rules? So we should be getting back some more specific guidelines on what we can and cannot enforce," County Judge Veronica Escobar said, "In some cases, it may just have to be something draconian, like we tell you to demolish something that you shouldn't have built, and we could take you to court. And then at that point, it would be a judgment call for the county, how hard do we want to fight."

This will be one of the last set of items Adauto will take on as public works director. Adauto is set to retire at the end of the year. According to Chief Administrator Betsy Keller, the search is well underway for her replacement, with staff narrowing down to three top candidates shortly. She hopes to have someone in place by the middle of January.

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