County Attorney Press Releases

El Paso County Attorney and Texas Attorney General take Action to Halt El Paso County Colonia Development

Developers illegally subdivided residential lots lacking water, sewage facilities

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged the developers of the Galindo Subdivision in western El Paso County with violating state colonia-prevention laws. According to court documents filed in Travis County district court, the defendants illegally subdivided residential lots and failed to install or bond water and waste water facilities before selling the lots to unsuspecting purchasers.

 

The state's enforcement action, which was filed jointly with El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez, names Homero R. Galindo, Rosella A. Galindo, Nahum Prieto and Rosella Prieto. All four were cited for subdividing an eight-acre tract into four lots for residential use without obtaining the required plat approval from El Paso County Commissioners Court. Further, the defendants sold the lots without installing or bonding water and wastewater facilities, a basic requirement for plat approval. Having an unapproved subdivision lot can bar a buyer from obtaining needed water and electricity connections.


Under Texas law, developers in counties along the Texas-Mexico border must obtain county approval of a subdivision plat before subdividing and selling residential lots. Obtaining plat approval secures water and wastewater facilities, and makes the property eligible for connections to the local electric utility. In Texas, residential subdivisions near the U.S.-Mexico border that lack adequate water or wastewater services required by state law are commonly referred to as colonias. Most colonias lie outside city limits or in isolated areas of a county.

 

The state's enforcement action seeks an injunction compelling the defendants to comply with colonia-prevention laws, as well as an order requiring the developers to file proper plats with the county and install fully compliant water and sewer systems. Alternatively, the state seeks refunds for lot purchasers harmed by the defendants' alleged conduct. The Attorney General also seeks civil penalties of up to $15,000 for each lot conveyed in violation of the law.


The case against the Galindoses and Prietoses is one of six colonias cases the Office of the Attorney General has pursued this year. During the 2007 regular session, the Texas Legislature passed a measure that provides the OAG with additional resources to prevent unlawful colonia developments. Since Sept. 1, 2007, the OAG has filed 19 enforcement actions involving subdivisions in five counties. Of the 19 petitions filed, seven cases have been prosecuted to final judgment.

 

Before purchasing residential property outside the city limits, border area home buyers should check with county officials to confirm that the property was legally subdivided and that the developer has made necessary arrangements to supply required infrastructure.

Texans can file complaints with the OAG against developers or sellers who fail to provide water and wastewater services, or who subdivide land without first obtaining necessary county approval. Complaints can be filed on the Attorney General's Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or by calling (800) 252-8011.

 

The Office of the Attorney General also maintains the state's Colonia Geographic Database, which offers geographic and descriptive data on more than 2000 colonias in 30 border area counties. To access the database, or for more information regarding Attorney General Abbott's colonias-prevention efforts, visit the "Texas-Mexico Border" page on the Attorney General's Web site.

 

El Paso County vs Galindo Lawsuit.pdf 

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# June 20, 2013 12:14 PM