By ED MIHALKANIN
Reversing its Feb. 17 decision to turn back a re-zoning proposal to place apartments on 22.5 acres near Hunter Road and Wonder World Drive, the San Marcos City Council approved the idea Tuesday night by a 4-3 vote.
The tide turned when Councilmember Pam Couch, absent from the Feb. 17 meeting, voted in favor of the Planned Development District (PDD) Tuesday night, while Councilmember Fred Terry, who opposed the proposal on Feb. 17, changed his vote Tuesday night.
The city council addressed a proposal that was modified by developer Larry Peel & Company and ETR Consulting, then amended by Councilmember Kim Porterfield, who supported the re-zoning on Feb. 17.
The council accepted the offer from Peel and Ed Theriot of ETR Consulting to revoke the re-zoning unless, within six months, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) approves the location of a curb cut onto Hunter Road and the construction plans for the center turn lane and the deceleration lane in substantially the same format that is indicated on the PDD Concept Plan, the final plat is approved and recorded and the site preparation permit is approved.
Porterfield’s amendment requires the construction of a center lane and deceleration lane on Hunter Road, an additional entrance/exit onto Dutton Drive, a condition specifying that the units will not be rented by the bedroom, extra space for single stream recycling, developer payment for the relocations of utility poles, and a prohibition against the developer using city water to fill a proposed vanity lake/wet pond.
The amendment passed, 5-1, with Councilmember Gaylord Bose in opposition and Councilmember Chris Jones abstaining. Jones said he approved of the amendments but was going to vote against the rezoning, anyway.
That established, the council then narrowly voted to approve the re-zoning and PDD while making the attendant changes to the land use plan.
Terry explained his change of position by saying, “I voted against this because of the traffic on Hunter Road. I believe that this new connection to Dutton Drive will alleviate the traffic.”
Said Couch, “I’m seeing a developer who has given and given and given. I’ve never seen a developer … go that extra mile.” To the developer representatives in attendance, Couch said, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you wanting to move into the neighborhood.”
Porterfield said that the $24 million project would make a smaller environmental foot print than what would be allowed by commercial use, concluding, “I believe the applicant has been responsive to our concerns.”
Voting with Jones in opposition, Councilmembers Bose and John Thomaides were unwavering.
“I’m not changing my vote,” Bose said. “People who have lived here for a long time have asked us not to vote for this project.”
Said Thomaides, “It seems the council never looked at the land surrounding the proposed project. I am concerned about the precedent that may be set if this rezoning is approved. Voting for this rezoning is a mistake.”
Mayor Susan Narvaiz said she was “proud of the work of the council,” and addressed the citizens in attendance and watching over the city’s cable television channel.
“We are doing our best to listen, to take into consideration your concerns,” Narvaiz said. “We have heard from our community. What I’ve heard for years is ‘bring good development, bring good jobs.’ ”
However, the council heard differently from citizens who spoke to the issue during Tuesday’s meeting. All the citizens who spoke on the issue asked the council to vote against approving the rezoning and other land changes.
Karl Purtie said such an apartment would have a major impact on traffic in many neighborhoods.. Further, he said that if the land were rezoned multi-family, it could turn the whole area into “apartment gulch.”
Ellie Stewart pointed out that a commercial district at the site would draw residents on the west side of town and so reduce traffic in congested areas. Stewart also was concerned that rezoning the land would establish a precedent.
Rick Roark said the proposed apartment would increase traffic on an already overburdened street. He said he had seen two fatal auto accidents near the site of the proposed apartment entrance, adding that “if this is approved, there will be fatalities.”
Ollie Giles asked the council to “not vote for this mess” and noted how close the proposed apartment was to Purgatory Creek, predicting, “Purgatory will rise again.”
San Marcos City Attorney Michael Cosentino explained that the matter went on the Tuesday agenda after council turned it back on Feb. 17 because earlier council action didn’t specifically deny the request. Council voted against approval, 4-2, in February, but didn’t take up a motion to vote specifically for denial.Email | Print