City History

An excerpt from the Hill Country Village Homeowners Association “News and Views” of December 1982.

HOMEOWNERS MEETING 11/10/82: The Homeowners met with Bruce Thompson presiding.

Arthur Nagle and William Roten, two former mayors of Hill Country Village gave most interesting talks covering the early history. “In the beginning,” said Mr. Nagle, “Miss Piggy would have been the belle of the ball in the center of the Village.” Clyde Stevens ran a hog farm here and stock was fed with the garbage from Fort Sam. After World War II developers were looking for new areas and in 1946 Village Estates, was developed by Meliff, Todd, and Hill Country Water Works. It was the first subdivision north of San Antonio. The closest food market was North Towne Plaza; the closest gasoline station at Hildebrand and San Pedro. The water tower carne from Bastrop; the first mains were 2″ oil field pipe-steam cleaned-laid above ground. Then each tract, a minimum of 9 acres, had water and people who wanted privacy, space, and no restrictions, came to live here. Winding Way and Tower Drive were the only paved streets-the test, dirt or gravel roads. Some houses had large porches; unusable because of the dust from the unpaved streets.

By 1954 there was a Hill Country Village Association led by William Roten. It was difficult to sell 9 acre tracts and the residents voted to allow 4 ½ acres on Tower Drive; 7 acres on NW comer of Tomahawk and Winding Way; and 2 acres in other areas. Residents still hunted dove on their own land; were able to keep horses and other stock; and were determined to maintain the uniqueness of the area. But San Antonio was expanding rapidly and annexing whatever property it could. Annexation meant a $2.00 tax rate and the zoning ordinances of the city. The Association proposed incorporation-two planks in the platform-incorporate to evade annexation and taxation; pave the streets. A petition for election was granted and 81 residents voted. The count was 40 for, 40 against, and 1 mutilated ballot. The following year another election was held and in 1956 the Village of Hill Country Village was incorporated with Bill Roten as mayor. 55-60″ of rain fell that year and the streets were washed away. The city asked for voluntary contributions of $25.00 per house, $10.00 per lot, collected $1500.00 and tried to pave the streets. Subsequently City Council established a tax rate of 25-cents per $100.00 and NEISD assessed the properties; but the contributions were voluntary and it was impossible to collect enough. 1/1/59 compulsory taxes were levied. The 25-cent tax rate continued. 1971 to 1976 city budgets were $16,000 to $25,000, and the assessed value in the Village was 1 million dollars.

Problems of zoning and extra-territorial jurisdiction have been perpetual. The first zoning ordinance was written in 1964: no dwelling shall be built for less than $6.00 per square foot; living area no less than 1200 sq: ft; and total value exclusive of land no less than $15,000.00. The 1980 ordinance #235 states no house shall be less than 1800 sq. ft. or have a fair market value exclusive of land of less than $72,000.00 The Village has changed with the times; per capita income in incorporated areas around finds the Village second only to Olmos Park. It remains the only incorporated area providing acreage, security to keep and ride horses, keep other stock, and have the kind of privacy and freedom we all value. In 1982 the tax rate is 30-cents and total taxable value is $34,789,000. Mr. Roten felt very strongly about the growth in cost of services and government. He deplored the fact that the Village no longer operated solely on current income and has a debt to be serviced and paid. The budget has grown from $20,000.00 in 1972 to $239,000.00 in 1983. This is a ten-fold increase. But the property value has increased 39 times. He also suggested exploring the possibility of a severance tax for water pumped out of wells in HCV and provided to other municipalities.

Shortly after incorporation the Village was concerned about traffic problems on San Pedro. Our City Marshal received $100.00 per month for gasoline to patrol the streets, deputies were paid $1.00 per hour. The area on the east side of San Pedro was in our ET J and this was going to be a difficult traffic problem as the area developed. Council negotiated with San Antonio and traded the east side land for additional land west of the Village. Arthur Nagle had many conversations with Mr. Lang, the owner of the San Pedro Drive-In Theater. He had moved the theater from the present K-Mart, Sun Harvest property on San Pedro when that land became too valuable for a theater, and always projected that when this location was ready for further development he would apply for annexation to the Village. Mr. Nagle believes that if commercial property adjoins and faces you, you might as well have some control and tax benefit. It is an ongoing argument.

When the Walker ranch of 100 acres came up for development there was much controversy and a compromise worked out providing for a privacy fence 15′ from the street, and if Bitters Road is widened, the land will come from the south side. Village Estates Development by Mr. Swinney was a big battle with the Village equally divided because Mr. Swinney proposed 155 houses on 31 acres and threatened suit. Negotiation finally led to settlement for 2 acre lots and annexation. Lloyd Denton wanted to develop small lots behind Village Circle, but the Village held firm and finally Mr. Nagle and Mr. Denton laid out Hidden Forrest by walking through and planning 2 acre lots to save the maximum number of trees.

In the early days the city officials had no place to meet and Mr. Roten volunteered a little building on his place-2 saw horses, plywood planks, one quilt, one blanket. The name has been changed from Village of Hill Country Village to town of Hill Country Village and now City of Hill Country Village. It was always hard to get people to serve on City Council because there was too much bickering and too many headaches. There were always a few who were willing to persevere and take on the responsibility. They helped to preserve what we have now and we owe them our thanks.