Endangered species habitat and urban development.
As defined by the ESA, the term "take" includes an implied prohibition against acts likely to harass or harm an endangered species.(2) Federal regulations define harass as "an intentional or negligent act or omission which generates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it,"(3) and defines harm as any act that may include "significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering."(4) Accordingly, provisions of the ESA clearly limit the availability for urban development of land on which any endangered species relies for its habitat.
Most ESA responsibilities are assigned to the "Secretary," which can refer to the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Agriculture, or any combination of the three, depending on context, subject matter, and the provisions of Reorganization Plan Numbered 4 of 1970, a plan external to the ESA. Generally, program responsibilities pertaining to most endangered species reside with the Secretary of the Interior, unless vested in the Secretary of Commerce pursuant to Reorganization Plan Numbered 4 of 1970. Only with respect to certain enforcement measures pertaining to the importation or exportation of terrestrial plants does the term also apply to the Secretary of Agriculture.(5)
The ESA distinguishes between an "endangered species," defined as "any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,"(6) and a "threatened species," defined as "any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future."(7) Within the context of threatened or endangered species, the ESA defines "critical habitat" as specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species that include physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species, and that may require special management considerations or protection. Further, specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species essential for the conservation of the species are also included.(8) The ESA mandates the simultaneous identification of an endangered species together with its critical habitat.(9)
Thus constrained, the urban development of land identified as critical habitat of an endangered species cannot be undertaken except as provided under operative machinery of the ESA. The ESA provides two possible avenues of recourse for landowners wishing to develop property that contains critical habitat. The two are commonly referred to as the Section 10(a) permit and the Section 7 consultation.
THE SECTION 10(A) PERMIT
Section 10(a) of the ESA(10) permits the Secretary, whether of the Interior, Commerce, or Agriculture, depending on the circumstance, to issue a permit for the "incidental taking" of endangered species. Incidental taking is defined as "any taking otherwise prohibited, if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity."(11) The apparent effects of this language are to permit the urban development of critical habitat, under controlled circumstances, where the otherwise lawful activity is urban development of the land, and the taking is incidental to such purpose. Considered in isolation, this language seemingly permits the urban development of any identified critical habitat. Other regulatory requirements, however, significantly curtail permissible activity.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) functions as program manager for the Department of the Interior for matters pertinent to the 10(a) permit process. Accordingly, 10(a) permits are typically issued, if at all, by the USFWS. Before a 10(a) permit may be issued, however, the ESA requires the permit applicant to submit an acceptable conservation plan, typically referred to as the "habitat conservation plan" (HCP), which specifies:
1. The impacts on the endangered species likely to result from the taking
2. The measures an applicant proposes to undertake to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the taking, including identification of the funding available to implement such measures
3. Alternatives to the taking considered by an applicant, together with justification for the rejection of the alternatives
4. Other measures "necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan"(12)
The ESA requires notice of a 10(a) permit application to be published in the Federal Register, together with an invitation to "interested parties" to submit "written data, views, or arguments with respect to the application."(13) In practice, the USFWS provides public notice of the application, provides for a comment period, and conducts a public hearing. Predictably, 10(a) permit applications often generate significant opposition from public interest groups.
As a practical matter, formulation of an acceptable HCP requires "biological assessment," typically produced, at significant expense, by a technical consulting firm and the provision of biological data on endangered or threatened species with habitat within the proposed HCP area. In addition, a 10(a) permit application must identify the proposed HCP boundaries, describe the proposed development activities within the proposed HCP boundaries, and describe the proposed mitigation measures. Typical mitigation measures include preservation of existing habitat within the proposed HCP area, creation of new habitat through the establishment of preserves, restricting access to areas of existing or proposed habitat, control of natural predators, and public information efforts. As outlined in greater detail in the next section, required mitigation measures are typically expensive.
Before approving a 10(a) permit application, the USFWS must find as follows:
1. That the taking will be incidental
2. To the maximum extent practicable, that the applicant will minimize and mitigate the effects of the taking
3. That the applicant will insure that adequate funding for the implementation of the HCP will be provided
4. That the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild
5. That the applicant will accomplish other measures, if any, necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan(14)
These requirements create onerous burdens of risk, expense, and uncertainty for developers who desire to improve land containing endangered species habitat. Accordingly, when possible, developers seek to avoid the 10(a) permit process in favor of the relatively less burdensome 7 consultation.
THE SECTION 7 CONSULTATION
Ostensibly, the consultation machinery provided by 7 of the ESA is for the purpose of coordinating interagency cooperation to further the requirements and purposes of the ESA. According to 7, federal agencies are required to consult with the Secretary, typically the Secretary of the Interior acting through the USFWS, to determine whether an "agency action," defined generally as any action by any federal agency, will or may either "jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of |critical~ habitat."(15)
Section 7 consultations are often initiated by federal agencies "at the request of, and in cooperation with, |a~ prospective permit or license applicant if the applicant has reason to believe that an endangered species or a threatened species may be present in the area affected by his project."(16) Developers often rely on the requirement to obtain certain federal permits, or the involvement of federal funding in certain projects, to initiate a 7 consultation in preference to the more burdensome 10(a) permit process. Requiring a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is typically the vehicle for initiating a 7 consultation.
After completing a required biological assessment,(17) and following a formal request for consultation, the 7 consultation process is normally completed within 90 days. The outcome of the consultation process is a written statement to the consulting TABULAR DATA OMITTED federal agency and the federal permit applicant, if applicable, that details the probable effects of the proposed agency action on the involved endangered or threatened species or its habitat. If jeopardy to the species or adverse habitat modification is found, USFWS suggests "reasonable and prudent alternatives which. . . can be taken by the federal agency or applicant in implementing the agency action."(18)
In theory, the "reasonable and prudent alternatives" that emerge from the 7 consultation should not vary from the required mitigation measures resulting from the 10(a) permit process. It can be argued, however, that the political nature of the 10(a) permit process, with its requirement for public notices, a comment period, and a public hearing, may result in more stringent and costly mitigation measures for 10(a) permit applicants than those that typically result from a 7 consultation.
Essential differences between the 10(a) permit process and the 7 consultation are outlined in Table 1.
For focused reasons generally concerning its exclusion of public input, certain interest groups are cacophonously opposed to the 7 consultation process. It is likely that these groups will continue to attempt to limit the availability of the 7 process when possible. For obvious reasons, applicants with a choice invariably prefer the 7 consultation to the perceived greater uncertainties associated with the 10(a) permit process.
THE REGIONAL HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN
Growing metropolitan areas with significant endangered species habitat face particular challenges. In California, with over 50 HCP efforts underway by early 1992, preapplication expenses associated with 10(a) permit applications typically range from $100,000 to $200,000 for each individual project, with overall compliance costs in the range of $8,000 to $15,000 for each acre of habitat land proposed for taking. Three individual projects have experienced or projected ESA compliance costs in excess of $1 million.
Actual or potential burdens are particularly onerous for developers of relatively small projects. USFWS-mandated mitigation efforts sometimes require preservation of up to 10 acres of habitat for each acre of habitat released for development. Individual permit applicants have no assurance that needed permits will be issued at the end of the expensive application and review process, which typically consumes at least eight months and sometimes takes over two years to complete.
Further, ESA compliance by individual project is typically unfocused, inefficient, and may ultimately produce results of questionable utility in terms of the primary conservation goal of assuring the survival of species in the wild. USFWS-mandated mitigation measures often require habitat preservation expressed as a ratio of habitat taken to habitat preserved. While preserved habitat is sometimes adjacent to the habitat proposed for taking, it can be distant. The process of selecting habitat for preservation often fails to consider the highest and best use of undeveloped adjoining property, the subsequent development of which may adversely affect previously preserved habitat. The result, over time, can become a disjointed array of relatively small habitat preserves within a growing urban area, contributing neither to endangered species survival nor to rational urban development.
From the perspective of local government, compliance by individual project provides only limited and unpredictable relief from the burdens associated with the presence of endangered species habitat. At the outset, it is important to note that the development of public projects--including roads, utility infrastructure, and schools, face ESA compliance requirements identical with those that constrain developers. Local governments must also proceed through the 10(a) or 7 processes when public projects potentially affect endangered species habitat. In one notable instance, a Travis County, Texas, road improvement project was terminated even after completion of an environmental assessment, an HCP, and engineering design work.(19)
Of perhaps greater significance to local governments in expanding metropolitan areas, however, are downward pressures on the value of undeveloped properties that contain habitat. These pressures are caused both by real estate market discounts for costs and risks associated with ESA compliance and by losses in primary job generation resulting from the reluctance of businesses to expand or locate new facilities in areas containing possible endangered species habitat. Increasingly, undeveloped properties with habitat tend to become valued in terms of their open-space utility rather than their development potential. Even in rapidly growing metropolitan areas where growth and value appreciation are the norms, undeveloped land with habitat typically does not rise in value commensurate with increased demand for housing and other development. In the aggregate, these factors result in a general shift of ad valorem tax burdens from undeveloped property with habitat to improved properties and undeveloped properties without habitat. Businesses are discouraged from expanding or locating in areas containing possible habitat by cost and expense uncertainty, and by fears of becoming diverted from their purposes by unwanted environmental concerns.
A hopeful alternative to many of the ills resulting from substantial endangered species habitat in growing urban areas and the difficulties associated with individual ESA compliance efforts is a Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP). RHCPs are typically promulgated by local governments, and often by a number of local governmental entities acting in concert. In its simplest expression, an RHCP is nothing more than a 10(a) permit application promulgated by local government, which is regional in scope.
Typically, a proposed RHCP is formulated in detail, often with significant public participation and debate, prior to submission to USFWS. All of the elements required of individual 10(a) permit applicants are required of an RHCP application, including a biological assessment; consideration of alternatives; and a requirement for public notice, a comment period, and public hearings. When approved by USFWS, the applying local governments become holders of the permits, and are responsible for implementation of the RHCP. Condemnation can be employed to secure title to land for inclusion within habitat preserves when necessary.
Both conceptually and practically, RHCPs offer significant advantages to private developers, the ecosystem, and local communities and governments. Private developers are assured a degree of certainty by the positive identification of land available for development, and are relieved of the expense, uncertainty, and time constraints of ESA compliance on an individual basis. The ecosystem benefits from a coherent, effectively designed preserve system that provides maximum habitat value and enables comprehensive species management programs. Local communities and governments benefit perhaps most substantially. With respect to public projects, local communities and governments enjoy all of the benefits that accrue to private developers. The presence of significant publicly owned open space in proximity to urban areas contributes to quality of life, including educational and recreational opportunities. Released from the constraints of ESA compliance, land outside designated RHCP preserves and located near desirable open space becomes more attractive for development, thus enhanced in value and ad valorem tax revenue-generating potential. Finally, environmental negatives that constrain business expansion or relocation become positives, as the existence of the RHCP contributes to a positive and progressive community image, ad valorem tax burdens become more fairly apportioned, and costs and operating expenses stabilize.
THE BALCONES CANYONLANDS CONSERVATION PLAN
By all accounts the most ambitious RHCP promulgated to date is the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP), a now five-year effort to establish an RHCP within a permit area encompassing all of Travis County, Texas, including the city of Austin, Texas. As currently proposed, the BCCP will provide a preserve system consisting of five large, closely spaced preserve areas, ranging in aggregate size from a minimum of 29,159 acres to a probable maximum of 35,300 acres, together with two smaller preserve areas centered on existing publicly owned property.
In 1987, the Black-Capped Vireo (Vireo atricapillus), a bird with extensive habitat throughout western Travis County, was listed as an endangered species by USFWS, thereby invoking ESA protection.(20) In 1988, five species of karst-dwelling invertebrates(21) found in caves throughout Travis County were also listed, including the Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion (Microcreagis texana), the Tooth Cave Spider (Neoleptonets myopica), the Tooth Cave Ground Beetle (Rhadine persephone), the Kretschmarr Cave Mold Beetle (Texamaurops reddelli), and the Bee Creek Cave Harvestman (Texella reddelli). In 1990, the Golden-Cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), another avian species with extensive habitat throughout Travis County, was also listed. As a result of these listings, several private development and public improvement projects were halted or significantly delayed.
In the fall of 1988, confronted with the need to protect the economic viability of the Greater Austin area, to comply with the ESA, and to respond to the concerns of environmentalists, local officials formed a coalition of representatives from a number of interested private and government groups and initiated studies to determine the feasibility of implementing an RHCP. After studying RHCPs previously implemented successfully in other parts of the country, the coalition promulgated the BCCP, the largest and most ambitious RHCP proposed to date. The stated purpose of the BCCP is to develop a regional strategy acceptable to all concerned parties that will ensure the continued existence of endangered and threatened species in the Austin metropolitan area while allowing otherwise lawful public and private land development to proceed in an orderly manner, as provided under 10(a) of the ESA.(22)
The concept of the plan is to obtain a 30-year 10(a) permit encompassing all of Travis County, and to manage development and conservation activities locally in accordance with an approved master plan and in coordination with appropriate state and federal agencies. The four primary government entities seeking the permit in concert are the City of Austin, Travis County, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Their intent is to hold the permit jointly, in accordance with the provisions of an interlocal agreement now under development.(23) A management committee, created to provide overall policy guidance and to ensure that permit conditions are upheld, is comprised of representatives of the four BCCP proponents as well as a representative of USFWS. TPWD will provide land management.
As a subset of the permit area, which includes all of Travis County, a "conservation area" has been designated, comprising major portions of western Travis County, but excluding approximately 27,000 acres in far northwestern Travis County already included within the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The conservation area contains essentially all of the known or potential endangered or threatened species habitat within the permit area, including the habitat of an additional 36 species (3 plants, 3 salamanders, 30 karst invertebrates) that are, or may become, candidates for federal listing as endangered species. Prelisting agreements are planned so that species subsequently listed will become subject to the BCCP.
Within the conservation area, at least 29,159 acres of preserve lands are to be acquired from private and public holdings, including substantial tracts now owned by the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC). Five separate preserves are planned as large, contiguous, or reasonably proximate tracts, within which any further development will be prohibited except infrastructure corridors to accommodate necessary utility and roadway extensions and improvements required to enhance preserve management. Preserve lands are intended to include the largest coherent blocks of known habitat, but will also include land not currently suitable as habitat that may be regenerated as habitat over time. The assemblage of large, contiguous tracts is a major benefit of the BCCP, because massing habitat in such a fashion creates a coherent biosphere that ultimately requires less land than do fragmented, widely separated parcels.
The current intent is to assemble preserve lands solely through land purchases from voluntary sellers, dedications, donations, conservation easements, and leases. It is a BCCP goal to acquire all preserve lands within three years subsequent to the effective date of the 10(a) permit. Submission of the final 10(a) permit application to USFWS was targeted for the end of calendar year 1993. Identified land sources (and acreage) include public entities and nonprofit organizations (7,526 acres), the RTC (9,633 acres), and private owners (12,000 acres).
Required funding is expected from both public and private sources. Austin has already secured voter authorization for its share of land acquisition costs ($22 million) in a September 1992 bond election and concluded its first land purchase, a portion of the 9,633-acre RTC block, in December 1992. The proposed TPWD share ($7.5 million) must be approved by the Texas legislature. Most observers expect the Texas legislature to be forthcoming. Travis County commissioners were committed to a November 1993 bond election to authorize the Travis County share (approximately $22.4 million), which depended on the existence of reasonable evidence of substantial public support, a reasonable basis for concluding the plan provides intended environmental and economic benefits, and a reasonable belief that needed private funding can be secured. Private sector contributions over the 30-year life of the permit are expected to provide approximately $78 million.
Remaining funding requirements will be fulfilled by the assessment of "mitigation fees" paid by landowners for authorization to develop either land confirmed to contain endangered species habitat or land that is likely, if developed, to adversely affect land containing habitat. Currently proposed fees are $1,075 per gross acre of subdivided or developed property, if any portion contains or adversely affects habitat, or $6,000 for each acre of habitat actually converted or developed. Revenues from voluntary participation in the mitigation fee program are projected at $86.8 million over the 30-year permit term.
A major BCCP assertion is that participation by landowners in the mitigation fee program is entirely voluntary. Developers who wish to improve land containing habitat within the conservation area remain free, if they desire, to pursue USFWS authorization to develop their property via authorizations obtained by individual 10(a) permit applications, or 7 consultations by federal agencies on their behalf. A June 1992 economic impact study prepared by Gau and Jarrett of the Graduate School of Business of the University of Texas at Austin(24) concludes from an analysis of four actual cases in the Austin area that average calendar year 1992 cost of ESA compliance was $9,000 per acre for projects containing habitat when individual project compliance was pursued.(25) Thus, proposed mitigation fees of $6,000 per acre appear likely to motivate all or most developers to participate in the BCCP mitigation fee program. The Gau and Jarrett study further concludes that, absent the BCCP, total ESA compliance expenditures during the next 20 years will range from $148.9 million to $410.6 million in 1992 dollars, while under the BCCP, total 20-year costs will range from $86.7 million to $87.4 million in 1992 dollars.(26)
Other significant conclusions appear in the Gau and Jarrett study. First, it concludes that failure to implement the BCCP will or may result in the loss of between approximately 9,700 and 39,000 new jobs within the Greater Austin area over the next 20 years.(27) Second, the study concludes that implementation of the BCCP will result in net tax revenue increases ranging from approximately $290 million to $410 million during the next 20 years only for the 3 taxing jurisdictions evaluated for purposes of the study (of 117 total Travis County taxing jurisdictions).(28) The increases are expected from the effects of overall higher population and job growth under the BCCP and to the distributional pull of growth drawn into Travis County from surrounding counties where, absent an RHCP, ESA compliance costs are expected to be greater.
A significant result of the Gau and Jarrett study was to cause BCCP proponents to adjust proposed mitigation fees upward from the original BCCP proposal of $600 per gross acre of development, or $3,000 per acre of actual habitat taken, to $1,075 per gross acre of development, or $6,000 per acre of actual habitat taken (the upward revision appears in the Revised Interagency Plan of September 1992).(29) The upward adjustment resulted from a revision of the estimate of the actual acreage of habitat that will probably be lost to development during the 20-year projection period. Original BCCP calculations were based on "potential habitat," or land with the vegetative characteristics necessary to support particular species. In preparing their study, however, Gau and Jarrett determined from a review of USFWS findings that a significantly lower proportion of potential habitat was, in fact, actual habitat.
While the ultimate fate of the BCCP remains in question, local authorities have to date demonstrated an uncommon degree of flexibility and a willingness to accommodate diverse economic and political interests. Both the upward adjustment of proposed mitigation fees and a decision to exclude a large tract of land situated within the Southwest Travis County Road District Number 1 (SWTCRD-1)(30) reflect a realistic assessment of economic realities that may prove reassuring to many erstwhile BCCP opponents in the business community. Similarly, the finding that the BCCP will contribute positively to area population and business growth may prove compelling to some interested parties.
The presence of endangered species habitat places material burdens on the owners of land with the highest and best use of urban development. Land that contains endangered species habitat may be improved only in compliance with operative provisions of the ESA. Generally the ESA provides two possible avenues of recourse for developers who desire to improve land containing habitat: the 10(a) permit or the 7 consultation.
The 10(a) permit process requires a biological assessment, formulation of an HCP, and formal consideration of alternatives to development. In addition, the 10(a) permit process requires public notice of the proposed development, provides for a public comment period, and requires a public hearing before the USFWS, the agency authorized to issue the 10(a) permit. The 10(a) permit process is often highly political and can produce significant opposition from public interest groups. The process typically requires at least eight months to complete.
When developers are required to obtain other federal permits, a 7 consultation may be undertaken in lieu of the 10(a) permit process. Section 7 consultations are performed by federal agencies, when required, on behalf of developers seeking permits from the consulting agency. Although a biological assessment is still required, neither formal consideration of alternatives to the proposed development nor formulation of an HCP is required. In addition, the 7 consultation does not require public notice, a public comment period, or a public hearing. Typically, the 7 consultation process is less intensely politicized than the 10(a) permit process, and can generally be completed within 90 days. For all of these reasons, private developers with a choice invariably opt for the 7 consultation. In theory, however, USFWS-mandated mitigation measures resulting from either a 10(a) permit application or a 7 consultation should not vary.
A hopeful alternative for major urban areas with significant endangered species habitat is the RHCP. An RHCP is typically promulgated by local governmental entities in the form of a 10(a) permit application that is regional in scope. When compared with individual project initiatives under either 10(a) permit or 7 consultation, the RHCP provides apparent material benefits to private developers, the ecosystem, and local communities and governments.
The most ambitious RHCP proposed to date is the BCCP, an ongoing effort to establish an RHCP encompassing all of Travis County, Texas. A study undertaken by the Graduate School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin projects ESA compliance costs under the BCCP at $6,000 per acre, compared with $9,000 per acre when ESA compliance is undertaken on an individual project basis. In addition the study projects that the BCCP will result in significant benefits in terms of primary job generation and ad valorem tax revenue increases. Initiated in the fall of 1988, the final BCCP 10(a) permit application was submitted to USFWS by the end of calendar year 1993, over five years after its genesis.
As is readily apparent, ESA compliance costs when considered in terms of individual projects are hugely difficult to quantify. Quantification is probably possible only within a range, based on typical costs associated with preparing a 10(a) permit application, or preparing for a 7 consultation, considered together with mitigation measures typically imposed by USFWS with respect to comparable projects. The presence of an RHCP materially eases the task of quantifying ESA compliance costs.
1. 16 U.S.C.A. 1531(b).
2. 16 U.S.C.A. 1532(19).
3. 50 C.F.R. 17.3 (1990).
5. 16 U.S.C.A. 1532(15).
6. 16 U.S.C.A. 1532(6).
7. 16 U.S.C.A. 1532(20).
8. 16 U.S.C.A. 1532(5)(A).
9. 16 U.S.C.A. 1533(a)(3)(A). See also 16 U.S.C.A. 1533(b)(6)(C).
10. 16 U.S.C.A. 1539(a).
11. 50 C.F.R. 17.3. See also 16 U.S.C.A. 1539(a)(1)(B).
12. 16 U.S.C.A. 1539(a)(2)(A).
13. 16 U.S.C.A. 1539(c).
14. 16 U.S.C.A. 1539(a)(2)(B).
15. 16 U.S.C.A. 1536(a)(2).
16. 16 U.S.C.A. 1536(a)(3).
17. 16 U.S.C.A. 1536(c).
18. 16 U.S.C.A. 1536(b)(3)(A).
19. The Butler/EH&A Team, Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (Final Draft) (Austin, Texas: EH&A Document No. 13818, February 1992), 5-2.
20. 16 U.S.C.A. 1533(c).
21. A "karst" is defined as "a limestone region with underground drainage and many cavities and passages caused by dissolution of the rock." A reasonable layman synonym for "invertebrate" is "bug." With respect to three of the karst invertebrates, fewer than six occurrences of the species have been noted globally. With respect to a fourth, between six and twenty occurrences have been noted globally.
22. Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (Final Draft), 1-2.
23. Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan Revised Interagency Plan (Draft) (Austin, Texas: September 21, 1992).
24. George W. Gau and James E. Jarrett, Economic Impact Study: Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (Preliminary Draft) (Austin, Texas: Bureau of Business Research, Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, June 5, 1992).
25. Ibid., 4 13.
26. Ibid., 1-12 and 7-16.
27. Ibid., 1-11 and 5-14.
28. Ibid., 1-12.
29. Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan Revised Interagency Plan (Draft), 17.
30. SWTCRD-1 is a "road utility district" (RUD), a creature hopefully, but probably not unique to Texas. Like municipal utility districts, an RUD is empowered, by an individual act of the Texas legislature, to issue bonds, secured by property located within the district, to provide infrastructure roadways. The bonds are retired by an ad valorem tax levied against property located within the district. The existence of multiple road and municipal utility districts is the reason that Travis County has, currently, 117 taxing jurisdictions. Many of these districts are insolvent, with ad valorem tax rates that economically preclude any actual development within the district.
Robert H. McKenzie-Smith, MAI, is president of Americana Appraisal Associates in Dallas, Texas. He received a BA from Park College, Parkville, Missouri, and is a graduate of the United States Naval War College and Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
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|Author:||McKenzie-Smith, Robert H.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1994|
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