Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Wednesday, May 3, 2000

CORNYN SUES STARR COUNTY DEVELOPER

Defendants must provide sewage and water service to Midway Subdivision
Illegal lot sales halted

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary injunction against Rio Grande Valley developer Eloy Vera and his company, Vera Enterprises, Inc. The injunction requires the defendants to provide sewage and water service to Midway Subdivision, located in Starr County between Rio Grande City and Roma.

"Texas now has tough laws designed to prevent the spread of colonias. The goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that the residents of Midway Subdivision are provided with safe water and sewer services that comply with these laws," said Attorney General Cornyn. "My office will continue to educate local officials and developers as to their responsibilities under the law and take action against those who ignore the law."

The 81-lot residential subdivision is currently in violation of the "build it or bond it" requirements for sewage and water service that constitute the cornerstone of colonias-prevention legislation. State law requires subdividers to provide water, sewer, drainage, and streets meeting state and local requirements. Vera and Vera Enterprises, Inc., have failed to install sewage or septic tank systems or post the required bond to ensure their installation on the lots. Other violations alleged in the petition include failure to install or bond for water meters, failure to specify operable dates for water and sewer facilities, failure to certify utility costs, and failure to comply with advertising standards.

The defendants have sold at least eight lots in Midway Subdivision. Two homes have been built and are occupied; the homeowners installed septic systems and obtained water service at their own expense. Other homes are under construction. The defendants agreed to the temporary injunction prohibiting the sale of lots in the subdivision until further notice. Additionally, defendants must within 90 days install sewer and water service to each lot or post a bond with Starr County to assure the installation of proper systems.

Last year, the attorney general received a $50,000 federal grant to prevent the expansion and development of colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. The grant has been dedicated to education and outreach, compliance investigation, and enforcement components of Attorney General Cornyn's anti-colonias efforts. Since then, the Office of the Attorney General has hosted workshops in several Texas border towns for officials and those involved in subdivision development and regulation and is taking action against those who are not in compliance with the law.

The lawsuit was filed this morning in Travis County District Court. Judge Ernest C. Garcia entered the Agreed Temporary Injunction The case is set for trial on October 16, 2000. The lawsuit seeks permanent injunctive relief, attorney's fees, costs of investigation, court costs and civil penalties. This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General David Preister of the Attorney General's Natural Resources Division.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050