The Woodway City Council on Monday will debate a council member’s proposal for a drought-related temporary moratorium on new building permits.
At the end of the Sept. 11 regular council meeting, Council Member David Russell suggested halting any new construction that would add water lines and meters to the municipal water supply while the city is under drought restrictions.
The council will discuss that proposal at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Woodway City Hall, 922 Estates Drive. Also on the agenda is an action item authorizing the city manager to issue requests for proposals to renovate the existing Woodway Family Center, which had been slated for demolition until Russell and others recently proposed repurposing it as a senior center.
Russell says no ordinance is required for a construction moratorium, and the council is not posted to take action on such a policy this week.
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The agenda item for the construction ban reads, “Discussion on possible future action on a temporary moratorium on all building permits for housing or business that will require a water meter installation while the City of Woodway and the City of Waco are under water restrictions.”
K. Paul Holt, president of the local chapter of the Associated of General Contractors of America, sent emails Friday urging builders and developers to turn up to the council meeting in opposition to the idea. He said a city completely stopping new construction would be a dangerous precedent.
“If there was a moratorium on building permits, that would ripple through the community rather significantly,” Holt said by phone Friday afternoon. “Knowing that it’s a proposal for a temporary moratorium and based on water restrictions would make it more understandable. But any moratorium is still a bad precedent.”
The city of Lorena had a building moratorium for several years in the mid-2000s, mandated by state regulators after they determined that the sewer system was overwhelmed.
Russell said by phone Friday that he envisions lifting the proposed Woodway moratorium as soon as water restrictions are relaxed in both Waco and Woodway.
“I would hate to see more homes and businesses jumping in while there’s water restrictions and making the restrictions tighter,” Russell said. “I’m not planning for anything like a permanent ban. We need new homes. We also need plenty of water.”
He also said he wants to give builders and opportunity to get permits submitted before any ban and let homeowners and builders have a say on why a temporary moratorium might be a good or bad idea.
Woodway mostly relies on its six municipal wells but supplements it with water from Waco, which requires its wholesale customers to observe the same drought restrictions that Waco itself follows.
The city of Waco has imposed Stage 2 drought restrictions since July 2022, limiting lawn sprinkling to two days a week, and only in morning and evening hours. With Lake Waco more than 11 feet low, Waco is considering Stage 3 drought restrictions this fall that would limit watering to once per week.
Russell said that after the drought restrictions are lifted, then would be the time for the Woodway council to discuss drilling more wells or other ways to add to the water supply.
The council Monday will also hear a resolution to nominate candidates for the McLennan Central Appraisal District Board of Directors, an action to pay for completed well repairs and conduct public hearings for permits to remodel existing storage buildings on Deb Avenue.