TAB News Briefs
Jul. 5, 2012

TAB 'Of the Year' nominations due tomorrow
In an effort to recognize outstanding contributions to the industry by its members, the Texas Association of Builders is soliciting nominations by Friday, July 6 for the J.B. Sandlin Builder of the Year, Associate of the Year, Developer of the Year, Remodeler of the Year, Philanthropist of the Year, Local Association Accomplishment of the Year and Presidential Distinguished Service. Along with the Texas Housing Hall of Honor awards, these recognitions will be presented at the TAB Excellence in Leadership Dinner on Friday, Sept 14, 2012, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin during the Sunbelt Builders Show™.More

Ranchers struggle to recover from Texas drought
The Texas Tribune
AudioBriefLast year's drought dried up hay fields, sent feed prices through the roof and forced many Texas ranchers to sell off large portions of their herds. A year later, many are still trying to recover. Despite winter rains, some think the state's cattle industry may never recover from the drought.More

DFW real estate recovery may have legs this time
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
We could declare a seller's market, if only there were more sellers. Bidding wars are breaking out for homes in pockets of North Texas because buyers are finally jumping onboard — only to find that the supply of properties for sale is the lowest in a decade.More

Commissioners pass resolution supporting new bridge to South Padre Island
The Brownsville Herald
Cameron County commissioners have gone on the record supporting a new, second causeway to South Padre Island. A public hearing on the proposed bridge is set for July 17. Details of the proposed route for a new causeway will be available at the hearing, to be held at the South Padre Island Convention Centre.More

Modern designs catching on with high-end homes
San Antonio Express-News
About five years ago, at the peak of a rustic Texas-Tuscan-Mediterranean design frenzy in San Antonio's luxury-homes market, the reaction by a neighborhood's architectural control committee to a modern design was often bafflement. "Whoa," said Adam Sanchez, president of Diamante Custom Homes, imitating committee members. "I'm not going to be neighbors with that." That's changing slowly.More

Austin seeks to rewrite onerous development rules, amid neighborhood concerns
Austin American-Statesman
Last month, as he waited for the City of Austin to issue long-awaited permits, Will Schnier got a $280,000 surprise. City officials had told Schnier, president of Big Red Dog Engineering, that he wouldn't need to pay a park-development fee for a South First Street real estate project that he was ushering through the application process.More

Number of uninsured drivers on Texas roads drops
The Associated Press via
The number of uninsured drivers in Texas has dropped more than 38 percent from a year ago, state statistics show, and officials attribute the decline to a program focused on getting those drivers either insured or off the road and a clean-up of the database of the state's licensed drivers. Statistics compiled in June indicate 13 percent of motorists, or about 2.6 million Texans, are driving without minimum insurance coverage, which is a violation of state law. One year ago, the state reported that about 22 percent of all drivers, or 4.2 million people, had no insurance.More

Austin property taxes jump 38 percent over past decade
Austin American-Statesman
The property tax bill for a typical Austin home rose 38 percent between 2000 and 2010, adjusting for inflation, while the median income remained stagnant, an American-Statesman analysis has found. For an average-value home, the bill was $5,590 in 2010, up from $4,053 a decade earlier, using 2010 real dollars, according to figures provided by the Travis County tax office. The figures also account for the tax exemptions and appraisal caps granted to most homeowners.More

Energy Star bestows leadership award to Texas new home builder Plantation Homes
Houston Chronicle
Plantation Homes has garnered commending attention from Energy Star, who recognized the homebuilder with the 2012 Leadership in Housing Award for the company's energy-efficient new homes in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.More

Singapore, US, Australia, Germany lead the way in green buildings
Reinforced Plastics
Energy security, and environmental and livability concerns drive government policy on green building technologies but eventually cost and affordability determine the extent and pace of adoption, notes Lux Research. The firm ranked 21 countries using these factors to determine the best markets for green buildings.More

Dewhurst, Cruz spending big bucks on runoff
San Antonio Express-News
With the days dwindling toward a July 31 runoff, and with temperatures going up — not to mention tempers — the two Republicans hoping to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison are spending more money than any U.S. Senate candidates in the nation. For Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the longtime front-runner in the race, and for Ted Cruz, his pesky tea party challenger, all the money comes down to persuading a small core of GOP voters to cast an early ballot or drop by a polling place on a day when most Texans are probably more concerned with beating the heat, enjoying time off or both.More

Texas ranks 8th among coastal states for water quality at its beaches
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Texas beaches and recreational bayfronts ranked eighth just below Hawaii in cleanliness among the 30 coastal states, according to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The nonprofit environmental group's annual Beachwater Quality Summary reports 5 percent of the water samples tested in Texas exceeded national standards for bacteria and other pollutants.More

Opposition grows against making marsh from ship channel sludge
Houston Chronicle
Opposition to a proposal to create a marsh from millions of cubic yards of sludge dredged from the Bayport Ship Channel started small. The initial pushback came from a few recreational boating groups protesting the loss of a 411-acre chunk of their water playground near the Harris County shore. Since then environmental groups, local governments and commercial oystermen have joined their side as the public comment period on the plan closes.More

Texas scientists regret loss of Higgs boson supercollider quest 20 years ago
The Texas Tribune
Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have unveiled the discovery of a tiny particle Wednesday that may help them understand the nature and even the origin of the universe. It's a breakthrough Texas lost its chance to try for almost two decades ago, when Congress defunded the costly project.More

Experts can't explain drop in state's special education numbers
Houston Chronicle
The Lone Star State diagnosed just 8.8 percent of its public school students as having special needs in 2011, down from 12 percent in 2000. Texas now has the lowest percentage of special education students in the nation — a full 4 percentage points below the U.S. average. Urban giants like the Houston and Dallas school districts identify even fewer children at 7.9 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.More