It was former mayor Phil Hardberger (starring as the whiskery tree-loving Lorax) who first locked horns with Milestone Potranco Development in 2005 in a case that drove the developer to the mat (via the State Supreme Court in 2010), all to show the world that San Antonio can and would protect our air-cleaning and flood-buffering tree canopy in the extraterritorial jurisdiction.
While the developers targeting 150 acres just outside 1604 on Potranco Road lost (again) on appeal before the U.S. Fifth Circuit, the earth eaters haven’t given up. A bill carried by East Texas state Representative Bob Nichols would cut SA’s legal argument off at the knees by adding a short sentence to state law. Under Nichols’ SB 732, cities would no longer be able to regulate “the planting, clearing, or harvesting of trees or vegetation or other uses of trees or vegetation on a particular tract of land.”
And dismantling of city controls over clear-cutting would likely cause increased flooding and contamination of the Edwards Aquifer, warn the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and the San Antonio Citizens Trees Coalition, while also pushing the region toward ozone non-attainment and putting increasing pressure on endangered birds like the golden-cheeked warbler, thereby jeopardizing the mission at Camp Bullis.
Since Texas counties have very little control over how development occurs in their boundaries, what controls occur must come from the city. Or as Jim Cannizzo, environmental attorney for Camp Bullis and surrounding Army operations, puts it: “If this doesn’t get regulated here, it’s not going to get regulated.”