Travis County sues developers behind 'illegal subdivision' Chaparral Woods

"I'm pretty sympathetic to the people that are out here because I don't think that they knew what was happening to them," said Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty.

Instead of going after the customers that bought non-existent lots at Chaparral Woods, Daugherty says he and the county are taking an aggressive stance against the "so-called developers" of the subdivision. According to the county, it isn't really a subdivision, it's just illegal.

"There are legal things that you have to do in order to get a permit from the county. We want to make sure, the main thing that we want to make sure is that your lot is legal because you're eventually going to have to get a septic permit," Daugherty said.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants deceived multiple families into paying more than $850,000 for something that doesn't exist: a unit in an imaginary condominium.

And because of the condominium declaration, a lie according to the county, families who purchased lots for around $60,000 didn't find out their land couldn't be developed until after closing.

The county doesn't issue permits to illegally subdivided property.

"Knowing that…them moving forward, they were never going to be able to get a septic permit. And if you can't get a septic permit, now obviously what they've gotten out here is they've gotten water delivered to them by a private water company.  They have been issued electrical poles," Daugherty said.

Still not tied to sewage though. 

Daughterty says the county should start working with private utility companies to make sure they check with them first about a lot's legitimacy.

The county installed signage Monday morning prohibiting any new construction projects due to the lawsuit.

"A number of the neighbors are really upset about what's taken place out here," Daugherty said.

Like Chad Moss who lives across the street from Chaparral Woods.

"I came out one day and I heard a chainsaw and so naturally I came down to see what they were doing on the property then.  But they weren't on the property they were on my property trying to fit a new trailer on there so they cut down some of my trees without saying anything to me," Moss said.

Alan "A.J." Shield is named in the lawsuit.  He's one of the founders of Chaparral Woods.  He says the issues are fixable and they're working with the county.  He sent FOX 7 this statement:

"We are working with our homeowners and the proper Travis County departments to correct the permitting issue.  We have had several problems with the project and we are doing everything in our power to fix it.  We will stay in the deal to get it finished, finalized and satisfy Travis County for our homesites.  We want to be clear that we have not made any money on the project and we will continue to correct and complete the project to Travis County specs.  Our ultimate goal is to provide affordable and safe homesites for families in Travis County," Shield said.

As for the new signs...

"I would like to think that people would see those signs and have second thoughts about bringing anything onto the property.  I think that would stop them," Moss said.

Commissioner Daugherty says he plans to go back out to the property in the next week or so with county legal experts and language translators to speak with the homeowners and make sure they know what's going on here.