The San Marcos City Council remains split – and still voting – on the Purgatory Creek Apartments project. File photo.
By ED MIHALKANIN
The San Marcos City Council began its meeting with an empty chair in the middle of the dais Tuesday evening. Mayor Susan Narvaiz is ailing from shoulder surgery and couldn’t participate in most of the meeting’s business.
But there was one vote Narvaiz wasn’t going to miss.
As a result, the controversial Purgatory Creek Apartments project that would have died on Sept. 30 appears well on its way to a reprieve until next June 30. Narvaiz voted with a 4-3 majority to provide an extension until then to Larry Peel & Company and ETR Consulting so they may keep trying to build the apartments on 22.5 acres on Wonder World Drive and Hunter Road.
The measure went on the agenda as an emergency, meaning the council could approve it in one reading with five votes in its favor. Because the measure only received four votes, the city will count Tuesday’s reading as a first reading. Narvaiz asked the city staff to schedule a meeting before Sept. 30 so the measure can pass on a second reading.
As the meeting began, Mayor Pro Tem Pam Couch presided in Narvaiz’s absence and swiftly moved the Purgatory Creek Apartments item ahead of the consent agenda, whereupon Narvaiz walked into the chambers from the side entrance to run the meeting for just a moment.
City Clerk Sherri Mashburn read the item and Narvaiz asked for any discussion. Hearing none, Narvaiz called the vote. Narvaiz, Couch, Kim Porterfield and Fred Terry voted for the extension, with John Thomaides, Gaylord Bose and Chris Jones voting in opposition.
After asking City Attorney Michael Cosentino about the steps for calling the additional meeting, Narvaiz said, “I guess I’m going home, where I need to be,” then rose and left the chambers. The council went on with the remainder of its business.
Tuesday’s events added one more twist to a saga that has split the council all year.
In February, the council voted, 4-2, against approving Peel’s request to change the land’s zoning from general commercial (GC) to multi-family (MF-18). Narvaiz promptly called a recess, which had parliamentary significance because no one was able to motion that the request be denied.
As the council voted merely to not approve the request, which isn’t the same as voting specifically to deny it, the request gained new life at the March 4 meeting. Couch, who missed the February meeting, was present on March 4 to vote in its favor. Councilmember Fred Terry, who voted against the zoning change in February, switched positions on March 4.
Thus, the council voted, 4-3, for the zoning change, enabling the developers to build an apartment complex. But there was a catch.
The ordinance passed in March said the re-zoning would be revoked if, by Sept. 30, the developers were unable to secure approval from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for the location of a curb cut onto Hunter Road and the construction plans for a center turn lane and a deceleration lane on Hunter Road.
Now, the developers say they won’t make the deadline. So, the project’s supporters on the council endeavored to give the developers another nine months.
“I’m confident that we have the votes necessary to move the project forward by giving a well-deserved extension to a well-deserved project,” Couch said.
Narvaiz said she supports the extension “because I voted for the project to begin with. It’s a good project and the extension request was a legitimate request.”
Porterfield said she still believes in the zoning change and thinks additional time for the developer is warranted.
“I certainly want it to be expedited,” Porterfield said, “but I don’t think the project should die because of a timing issue.”
Said Terry, “I voted for the project because I voted for the project to begin with. It’s a good project.”
Bose emphasized that he always has believed that the land should remain in its original commercial zoning.
“I don’t mind changing zoning, but we need to be careful when we re-zone because of its effect on the surrounding area,” Bose said. “The people near the land were against the project … For me, the procedures followed on the change were wrong.”
Jones said he remains worried about the traffic to be generated in that area by an apartment complex. Thomaides said he was remaining consistent with his votes against the project.
“There is nothing new in this project for me to be supportive of it,” Thomaides said, adding that “there is continuing opposition to the project.”
The city staff is working to confirm a date with councilmembers for a special meeting in order to have a second and final reading of the proposed Purgatory Creek Apartments time extension.Email | Print