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Texas AG announces final judgment in action against developer

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 8, 2013

AUSTIN (Legal Newsline) -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced a final judgment and permanent injunction against a Cameron County developer who allegedly engaged in the illegal subdivision and leasing of multiple residential lots.

Phillip Watrous allegedly violated state colonias prevention laws by subdividing, selling or leasing property without approval from local officials and without providing correctly installed wastewater and water services for residents.

Abbott's office obtained the judgment and injunction on July 30, banning Watrous from continuing to engage in such activities.

The judgment also ordered Watrous to bring all residential lots sold or leased in the Cameron County subdivision into compliance with state platting and colonias-prevention law and stop advertising the sale or lease of mobile home spaces in the subdivided lots. Watrous must pay $464,500 in civil penalties as part of the judgment.

Watrous allegedly failed to seek plat approval from the Cameron County Commissioners Court when he subdivided two lots containing less than one acre of land into multiple lots for residential use. He allegedly violated state law by creating a recreational vehicle park on the lots, which he then leased to mobile home owners.

Texas law refers to unincorporated residential subdivisions near the U.S.-Mexico border without adequate water and sewage infrastructure as colonias. Residents of colonias may go without electricity, go without fresh water and risk higher incidence of disease.

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