San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 5th, 2009
San Marcos council looks at economic matters

By ED MIHALKANIN
News Reporter

Amid the commotion stemming from a proposed neighborhood noise ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting of the San Marcos City Council, economic development issues came from a variety of fronts to squeeze in several words edgewise.

Councilmembers discussed matters as remote as the city’s land development code and as immediate as an incentive for encouraging Texas State faculty to purchase homes in the city limits. In between, the council discussed a residential development targeted to low-income families, a comprehensive economic development plan and a possible future scenario for the Springtown Shopping Center, which is soon to be vacated as anchor tenants such as Target and J.C. Penny move to a larger shopping complex down Interstate-35.

On the last of those, Steve Metcalfe of Drenner & Golden, representing multiple property owners in the Springtown mall, presented a redevelopment proposal that would re-brand the facility as the Springtown Entertainment Center. Among the proposed attractions are a movie theater, a bowling alley/entertainment center, family entertainment venues, a sports bar and restaurants.

The property owners are requesting a conditional use permit, parking variances, sign variances and other variances as they may be needed.

Most significantly, the property owners are requesting a Chapter 380 Agreement with the city for 20 years, whereby the city would only receive 20 percent of the increase in sales tax revenue from the proposed project.

The property owners estimate that the economic impact through the first 20 years would include 451 direct and indirect jobs, with the city government receiving more than $16 million in revenues from taxes, fees, permits and other charges. The proposal will go to the Economic Development San Marcos Board (EDSM) for a recommendation before it is brought back to the council.

However, council took direct action on a $50,000 incentive program for qualified Texas State University professors to reside in the city, approving the measure by a 6-1 vote. Councilmember Gaylord Bose cast the only dissenting vote, arguing that the program assists people who don’t really need it. Under the proposal, the city would offer $5,000 towards the down payment on a home within the city.

As amended and approved by the council, all tenure or tenure track professors are eligible for the program, no matter how many years they have been employed by Texas State, so long as they haven’t owned property in San Marcos for three years.

By a 5-2 vote, council approved a petition for a development agreement with NRP Properties for Encino Point, a proposed 19.68-acre, low-income, multifamily development on Post Road just beyond the city limits. Bose and Councilmember John Thomaides voted in opposition.

Bose, Thomaides and Councilmember Chris Jones worried that a provision for a payment in lieu of property taxes would leave the city short of the amount that a for-profit corporation would pay in taxes on a similar multi-family housing development. Jones further wondered if NRP, a non-profit corporation, would be able to finish the project and make the promised payment to the city.

Speaking on behalf of NRP’s proposal, Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation partner Jim Shaw told council that  “payment is guaranteed” because it “becomes part of the trust estate. It is part of the mortgage. It is a rock solid way of setting it (the payment) up. It is a guaranteed payment.”

Shaw also responded to concerns that NRP would sell the multifamily development to a for-profit corporation, assuring council that the “property must remain affordable for a 15-year period.” Shaw added that “our goal is to create this type of quality affordable housing,” promising “we’re not interested in flipping it.”

Also Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a contract with Market Street to prepare a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan for San Marcos, following EDSM’s unanimous recommendation. Furthermore, EDSM voted unanimously to recommend that all money contributed to the plan be placed in a dedicated fund in the city budget to be used for its implementation..

The plan will include a community assessment, target business and workforce analysis, organizational review, a comprehensive economic development plan and an implementation plan. All parts of the plan are scheduled to be completed by mid-September.

Charles Swallow, the city’s director of development services, presented an update on the city’s Land Development Code (LDC), reviewing a council-requested study by Dunkin Sekor & Associates comparing the San Marcos code with those of Buda, Kyle, and New Braunfels.

The comparative study concluded that San Marcos is most restrictive or costly in the areas of impact fees, watershed protection, permit process, arterial and boundary road participation, street right of way (ROW) and pavement widths, bike lanes, utility extension reimbursement and processing times.

After receiving the report, the city council directed staff to evaluate potential changes related to impact fees, utilities reimbursement, transportation, watershed protection and reducing the number of readings for an ordinance before adoption. The city staff already is reviewing impact fees and developing a pro-rata reimbursement ordinance, while revising the capital improvement planning process. The staff also is considering reducing ROW and pavement widths requirements, expanding off-road alternates to bike lanes, and implementing a concurrent instead of a sequential review process.

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0 thoughts on “San Marcos council looks at economic matters

  1. San Marcos is making changes to their land development code based on comparisons with Kyle and Buda – give me a break. Is this the best reason they can come up with for bending to developers?

    Is this council really going to make concessions to watershed protection? Before they do that, perhaps they ought to consider that the only major stream going through the City of Kyle has been on the State’s 303d inventory since 2004 – it’s now an impaired waterway unfit for human contact.

  2. Kyle and Buda are not the models we should be emulating. More strip mall retail for commuters is not the development we need. We need jobs for people with Bachelors and Masters degrees. We have both resources and problems that they will never have and it will require different solutions.
    I think the city has made some good decisions as far as watershed protection. Prospect/Purgatory and Spring Lake Preserve were both wins. As long as we can keep any more high density development off the recharge area, things will hopefully keep moving in the right direction. We need a green development (with water cachement and solar) for all those professionals that the city is going to find a way to attract.
    As for Springtown, I’m glad someone finally is coming up with a plan for what will be our biggest example of urban blight. It should have been in place before the city gave away tax revenue to move the businesses to the outskirts of town (one of the least green moves the city could make. grrrr.) Now, if they could add a Trader Joe’s to the list of businesses, I’d be much happier…

  3. H-E-B could put a Central Market in Springtown. It would be a better place to shop and allow H-E-B more retail space with better parking and traffic flow. Then, they could sell the old H-E-B property to T$U$M, allowing the university more parking space for students and sports fans etc.., thus, hopefully alleviating some parking issues downtown and in residential neighborhoods. (Okay, so the last part might be a little far-fetched, but it could happen – I digress) A New Central Market Store in Springtown could = A better store, more retail space, easier traffic flow in & out, and more parking for TSUSM. It’s a Win-Win-Win, right? Just a thought.

  4. Well said, Lila. We are comparing our impact fees to Kyle and Buda and New Braunfels. I have no interest in emulating those cities, who are actually looking at increasing thier impact fees! The developers also want to sell wholesale lots at retail prices, and push the costs of a watershed protection plan onto the buyer. That is not going to work, as it is in the prelinminary platting process that these issues are worked out. Post-plat is too late.
    Council wants to discuss an 80% sales tax rebate, not abatement, a rebate, for Springtown Mall, after giving millions to the businesses who are vacating the Mall. huh?
    Council also voted last week to LOWER the trigger for Stage 1 water rationing (water your lawn once a week)to from 107 to 97 CFS on the San Marcos River. Lots of stuff going on under the radar at City Hall, but the issue that is getting the most attention right now is microchipping your cat! Wake up, ya’ll…

  5. should have read the whole thread. I agree with all the comments, and I used Jesse’s “emulate” again. but it’s a good word…

  6. Actually Chris, we dont go into stage 1, until the CFS is at 96, if you would have done little research you would have known that. Im not disagree with what you’re saying, Im just correcting your false (perhaps unintentional) report of the facts. You were only off by 1 CFS, but it makes a difference, especially in the planning by Tom Taggart – its all in the books.

  7. thanks for the correction. i didn’t take notes while watching the council meeting. my head was exploding.
    Mr. Taggert reported that the River was at 97 CFS at the time and had been there for a few days. anyway, they lowered the trigger when they should have raised it and it’s indicitive of the fact that our council is moving in the wrong direction.

  8. Please San Marcans. Don’t emulate Kyle. Or even Buda. We are not good role models. And if your city is doing this, it should be easy enough to embarrass them for it…

  9. Aren’t we already in Stage 1 restrictions? I thought it was Stage 2 that kicked in at 96cfs? When did they change this?

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