For more about the March 3 San Marcos City Council meeting, tune in “City Beat.”
By ED MIHALKANIN
A little noticed city charter provision is the path back to the San Marcos City Council for a proposed zoning change near Hunter Road and Wonder World Drive.
By a 4-2 vote, the council rejected a plan to change a 22.5-acre tract from commercial to mixed use zoning at its Feb. 17 meeting. According to the charter provision, however, the mere fact that the proposed Planned Development District (PDD) was not approved is not tantamount to the proposal being denied.
City charter Section 3.10 (b), the charter provision in question, states, “Four or more council members shall constitute a quorum but no action of the council shall be of any force or effect unless it is adopted by the favorable votes of four or more of the council members.”
Because the city council didn’t vote specifically to deny the proposal, City Manager Rick Menchaca placed the matter back on the agenda for March 3, with the approval of Mayor Susan Narvaiz.
Immediately after the motion to approve the rezoning and PDD failed on Feb. 17, Narvaiz called a recess. No member of the city staff pointed out during that meeting that the council’s refusal to approve didn’t amount to a final disposition of the item.
The city’s land development code states that if a proposed rezoning is denied by the city council, then the same zoning application cannot be brought back for a year unless both the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) and the city council determine that there has been a substantial change in the conditions surrounding the property and the rezoning is approved by a three-fourths vote of the council.
Although an exhaustive list has not been compiled, the San Marcos City Council has brought back a rezoning proposal after a motion to approve had failed and no motion to deny and been made three times since 1987. It is not known how many times such a motion to approve had failed without such an issue being placed on a future council agenda.
Larry Peel, President of Larry Peel & Company, developer of the land and the applicant for the rezoning, said in a Feb. 20 letter to the city manager, “This letter is to formally request the placement of our applications for the approval of a Planned development District – a zoning change to MF-18 and a Future Land Use Map amendment to High Density Residential – on the 22.5 acres near Wonder World Drive and Hunter Road.”
Opponents of the rezoning have complained that a multi-family facility will generate more traffic than the main streets in the area can accommodate. The developers suggested alterations to the original plan in communications with the city since the Feb. 17 meeting.
On behalf of the project, Ed Theriot of ETR Development Consulting, wrote to the city on Feb. 23 that “We are proposing a turn lane and a deceleration lane be constructed in connection with this access point to the property,” but he did not say what entity would pay for the construction of such lanes.
A second modification Theriot discussed dealt with a Dutton Drive Access. Said Theriot, “The Concept Plan … is being modified to reflect an additional entrance/exit onto Dutton Drive near the northeast corner of the project. This additional drive is expected to provide the preferred access point for up to 30 (percent) of the trips generated by the project.”
The posted agenda for the March 3 city council meeting does not provide a public hearing specifically to address the re-zoning proposal. However, those interested in commenting on the matter can sign in for the 30-minute citizen comment period at the start of the meeting.
The council will convene at 6 p.m. and adjourn, as is its custom, into executive session. Following the executive session, the council will hear citizens’ comments on any subject.
Opponents of the change say they are concerned, in part, about the speed with which the city council has taken action on the matter.
The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) approved the rezoning and PDD on Feb. 10. The council acted on the issue on Feb. 17, and the agenda for the March 3 meeting was posted on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Usually, at least two weeks pass between a P&Z action and that issue going on a city council agenda. Further, in two out of the three times that the council has brought back a rezoning after voting against approval, the rezoning was brought back not to the next meeting, but three meetings after the meeting in which the motion to approve failed.Email | Print