SAN ANTONIO - The aesthetics of communities across Texas could be changing after a new law went into effect this month. HB 2439 New state law prevents cities from regulating construction materials 2439, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, limits certain regulations adopted by cities that required the specific use of materials used during construction or renovations. Cities no longer have a say, and any approved material by the national code can be allowed.
Brandon Melland Leon Valley's Planning and Zoning Director says communities were blindsided by the passage of the bill. The city sent a letter to the governor asking that he not sign the bill into law.
"I think the question that needs to be asked is ‘where did this bill come from?" he said. "Because it certainly didn't come from the citizens of Leon Valley."
Communities like Leon Valley worry that now that developers have a choice, they will choose to build with cheaper, less durable materials. He says a construction company has already informed the city they will be changing their material plans following the passage of the law.
"Prior to this law, cities required that buildings use materials like stone and bricks on the majority of the construction. It's not just for aesthetics," explains Melland. "We have structures in this region that are over 300 years old that are constructed out of stone or brick," he said. Now, materials allowed by the national code like Hardie board or metal siding are an option. "Those materials are not as durable and can begin decaying or decomposing within 5 to 10 years, depending on how properly maintained they are."
The law went into effect this month, but he says communities can begin to see the effects once the new buildings start going up.
Municipal law expert Frank Garza says it was a law that was likely pushed by lobbying groups because it wasn't needed. He thinks cities trying to maintain a certain feel and look will be impacted.
"Some of the nicest neighborhoods, if there is a vacant lot next to you should be nervous, because somebody might come in and put the ugliest all-metal building and the city will not be able to put a stop to it."
Melland thinks cities will likely bring the issue back in the next legislative session.
The bill was authored by Dade Pheland of Orange, Texas. He owns a commercial real estate development firm and manages retail, industrial and office properties in Texas and Arkansas.
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