Ken Paxton

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Attorney General Abbott Takes Action Against Unlawful Nueces County Colonia Development

CORPUS CHRISTI Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed an enforcement action against the developer of Sweet Water Estates for violating the state’s colonia prevention laws. Court documents charge developer Tracy L. Long with unlawfully selling residential lots in Nueces County and failing to install or bond water and wastewater facilities on the lots.

According to state investigators, Long unlawfully has been selling residential lots since 2006 in the Sweet Water Estates, a residential subdivision with a total of 64 lots. Long has illegally sold 15 lots ranging in price from $10,000 to more than $20,000 each. Prior to selling the lots, Long failed to install water or wastewater facilities; to re-plat the lots to install such facilities; or to provide financial assurance for such installation as required by law.

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. In 2005, the Texas Legislature added Nueces County to the list of counties along the Texas-Mexico border that must abide by the state’s colonia prevention law. Most colonias lie outside city limits or in isolated areas of a county.

The state’s enforcement action seeks an injunction compelling the defendant to comply with anti-colonia laws and provide water and wastewater services to lots already sold in violation of the law. The state also seeks an injunction against Long from additional Sweet Water Estates sales until lots are provided with the minimum required water and wastewater services or financial guarantees are provided for such installation.

Additionally, the state seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each lot conveyed in violation of the law.

The case against Tracy L. Long is one of five colonias cases in Nueces County the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has filed 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.

Before purchasing residential property outside city limits, border and Nueces County area purchasers should check with county officials to confirm if the property was legally subdivided and that the developer has made necessary arrangements to supply required water and wastewater facilities.

Texans along the Texas-Mxico border and Nueces County 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 or by calling (800) 252-8011.

The OAG also maintains the state’s Colonia Geographic Database, which offers geographic and descriptive data on more than 2000 colonias in 29 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.