North Texas

Collin County Couple Faces Property Rights Fight

Construction of a Collin County couple's dream home is on hold, and not by choice.

They say a city ordinance is keeping them from finishing the job, even though the property is outside McKinney city limits.

Sue and Harlan Stauffer purchased the 49-acre property 30 years ago. It's where their sons learned to ride horses and where they envisioned building their dream home.

"We had always planned that it would potentially be the location of our retirement home," Harlan Stauffer said.

The plan finally came to life last summer.

They hired a builder, who pulled a permit from the county and invested $80,000 to start construction – money they now say is "down the toilet," Sue Stauffer said.

The property is in unincorporated Collin County.

But the city of McKinney says it's also within its Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, or ETJ, which the city says gives it the legal right to exercise authority.

As a result, the Stauffers say they're being required to do a number of things like paying to have someone plat, or subdivide, their property on a map, an expensive process they say is unnecessary.

"We're not subdividing the property. We're building a single residence, and we have a permit. And it went downhill rapidly from there," Harlan Stauffer explained.

To continue building, the Stauffers must also give the city more than two acres of land along the road in front of their property for a future right-of-way.

The value of the property, the Stauffers say, is more than $100,000.

"Well, I think it's basically sticking your hand in my pocket without the right to even do that," Harlan Stauffer said.

"At the end of the day I think it’s a pretty big overreach for the city," said homebuilder Alan Hoffmann with Hoffmann Homes.

The city disputes that, saying ETJ rules "exist to protect neighboring property owners and a local community's standards."

A city spokesperson told NBC 5 that what it's asking of the Stauffers is standard practice among urbanizing communities.

The spokesperson said the city has offered the Stauffers several paths forward:

  • Dedicate the right-of-way consistent with city ordinance.
  • Ask the City Council for a variance to not have to dedicate the right-of-way.
  • Wait and plat the property after the Texas Department of Transportation has acquired the right-of-way.

The Stauffers say the only way they see it ending is in court, a process they say could cost more than $100,000.

"We don't know what to do," said Sue Stauffer.

"It's a dream that has been destroyed," added Harlan Stauffer.

The city spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the Stauffers' situation.

They aren't the only land owners dealing with problem pertaining to McKinney's ETJ ordinance.

The city is already involved in at least two lawsuits relating to ETJ issues.

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