[In early 2007] Reports that the San Antonio Water System was seeking to expand its authority across the city’s entire 5-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction, and that a new high-density development straddling Medina and Bandera counties was seeking SAWS sewer and water service, had rattled a broader geography of turf warriors. Many of them were already members of the non-profit Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, whose mission is specifically focused on protecting the Edwards Aquifer.
In a galleon of a ranch house outside Helotes modeled on Yellowstone National Park’s guest quarters, they debated just what they could do to stop the quickening pace of sprawling development. While SAWS officials argued that extending their pipes would better protect area water supplies by limiting the creation of smaller, less-professional water-company operations or, worse, the explosion of septic-tank communities, the consensus in the meeting was that the lines would only ensure the continued rush of concrete, sheet rock, and tarpaper.
The mix of political persuasions was bridged by a collective, dawning environmental consciousness, perhaps best illustrated by the retired neurosurgeon from Quihi, busy battling plans for a quarry in his hamlet.
“I never considered myself an environmentalist. I really didn’t,” said Robert Fitzgerald. “But once you start looking at what people are doing down there, if you have any feeling at all, you become an environmentalist.”
A member of the Edwards Aquifer Authority publicly confessed the agency hadn’t been willing to act on many issues out of fear. “It’s fear of what the legislature will do. Really, it’s fear of what the developers will get the lege to do to us,” he said. “Some think it’s time we called their bluff.”
Then Bebe [Fenstermaker] shot off from the front of the room. “We’re losing Texas. I don’t know if you know that,” she said. “I can’t stand to drive anywhere anymore … We look like New Jersey.”
A woman at the opposite end of the stone and timber expanse shook her jaw. “New Jersey looks better.”
Some attendees compared the motivation behind the night’s meeting to the survival ethic of the early Texians. “We’re kind of like the pioneers 200 years ago,” said one. “When there was a fight, they all left their homes and came together.”
No surprise that in such a charged environment when prospective names for the group were floated the combativeness of the moment seeped out. “How about militia?” offered one. “Hill Country Militia?”
It took time, but eventually the more mundane Hill County Planning Association was adopted.
Early versions of the group’s Master Plan struck one prominent participant as a rewrite of the Communist Manifesto, though it read more like an early American Revolutionary screed. A trace of those rhetorical flourishes remains, particularly the opening “We the People.”
After lengthy defining of place and purpose, the group’s Master Plan comes to a solitary demand: “An immediate moratorium is called on all development in The Hill Country to assure compliance with all local, State, and Federal laws and until a comprehensive cumulative environmental impact study is completed.”
For much more, read the entire article.Group members were still working out the final language of the Master Plan when developers at Sonoma Verde were blasting and excavating their way to the perfect limestone tabula rasa, a blank slate devoid of any living thing, atop that cherished Edwards recharge zone.
Today the [Fenstermaker] sisters watch as Post Oak Development blasts a hill flat on the backside of Crownridge Canyon Natural Area off Kyle Seal Parkway. It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before.
“This is like West Virginia coal mining,” Mary Fenstermaker says.
“We’ve seen land raped, but we’ve never seen that,” Bebe says. “I’ve never seen Texas treated like that.”