Charges filed over unlawful Texas subdivision

By Nick Rees | Oct 15, 2009

Greg Abbott (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - The developers of a western El Paso County subdivision have been charged with violating Texas' colonia-prevention laws by illegally subdividing residential lots and failing to install water facilities before selling the lots.

Homero R. Galindo, Rosella A. Galindo, Nahum Prieto and Rosella Prieto, the developers for the Galindo Subdivision, were named in the state's enforcement action, which was filed jointly by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and El Paso county Attorney Jose R. Rodriguez.

Developers in counties along the Texas-Mexico border, under Texas Law, must obtain county approval of a subdivision plat prior to subdividing and selling residential lots. The plat approval secures water and waste water facilities and makes the property eligible for connections to the local electric utility.

The four defendants were cited for subdividing an eight-acre tract into four lots for residential use without first obtaining the required plat approval from the El Paso County Commissioners Court. Unapproved subdivisions can bar buyers from obtaining water and electricity connections.

The defendants are also charged with selling the lots without installing or bonding water and waste water facilities, which is a basic requirement for plat approval.

The state's enforcement action is seeking an injunction compelling the defendants to comply with the colonia-prevention laws and an order that would require the developers to file the proper plats with the county and install fully compliant water and sewer systems.

The state is also seeking refunds for lot purchasers harmed by the alleged conduct of the defendants. Attorney General Greg Abott is also seeking as much as $150,000 for each lot conveyed in violation of the law.

The attorney general's office has pursed cases against six colonias this year, which are residential subdivisions near the U.S.-Mexico border lacking adequate water services required by state law and usually lie outside city limits or in isolated areas of a county.

Since Sept. 1, 2007, when the Texas Legislature passed a measure that provided the attorney general with additional resources to prevent unlawful colonia developments, 19 enforcement actions have been filed in five counties involving subdivisions with seven of those cases prosecuted to final judgment.

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