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

April 29th, 2010
Letter to the editor: Land use planning doesn't mean a thing

To the editor:

If you live close to the corner of Bishop and Craddock where the extension of Craddock will connect to the new Wonder World Drive extension, then pay attention. All that neighboring open land out there that the city planners proposed would be a single family neighborhood, well, guess what? Now it may be apartments and commercial.

On April 13, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 8-1 and 7-2 to rezone this tract, called the Buie Tract, which is approximately 50 acres adjoining both sides of the new Craddock extension. The land use and zoning on this tract was changed from Very Low Density Residential and Single-Family (SF-6) to Medium Density Residential and Multi-Family (MF-12) and Mixed Use.

As changed, this could mean 453 apartments on one side of Craddock and businesses along the side of Craddock that backs up to end of Franklin Street. The buildings are proposed to go straight up at least three stories from the sidewalk on Craddock like the apartments close to the little H-E-B on Hutchison. So, Craddock Street is this nice wide open boulevard between Ranch Road 12 and Bishop Streets, and then, for the last few blocks between Bishop and the new Wonder World extension, there will be apartments and commercial space crammed right up next to the street. What kind of continuity is that?

The proposed new development will most probably involve a major increase in traffic through the surrounding area and have other impacts like noise and lighting. The San Marcos Horizons Master Plan does not recommend apartments in this location. Also, the plan policies state that traffic from different densities should not “mix within the neighborhood” and should not “increase the load on existing roadways.” These apartments would be adjacent to single family neighborhoods; Oak Heights, Westover, and Southwest Hills have been here for decades. Franklin Square is newer.

About 10 people spoke against this change at the Planning and Zoning meeting. Nearly all the homes on Franklin south of Bishop are owner-occupied, and 14 of them signed a letter against this zoning change. One neighbor told the commission that when they bought their homes, they were not expecting to look out their front door at apartments and at the back side of businesses which front on Craddock. The city staff considers Franklin Street an adequate buffer between their homes and the business that will be across the street.

New apartments next to old neighborhoods might tell potential home buyers that their investment in a home in San Marcos would not be protected. What good is it to work on long-term planning like the Horizons Master Plan if the city planners, Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council are just going to throw it out window? Beware citizens of San Marcos. Land Use designation and Zoning of vacant tracts near your neighborhood don’t mean a thing. Tomorrow apartments and commercial could be your neighbor.

The city council will be voting on this change to the Buie Tract at their meeting on May 4. This is just the first phase of a bigger tract which lies outside the city limits and is proposed to be developed and taken into the city. Progress is good when it is good for everybody, not just the landowner/developer and the city coffers.

If you wish to contact city council, you can do so by e-mail: cityhall@sanmarcostx.gov. Letters can be sent to Mayor Susan Narvais and the city council at 630 E. Hopkins, San Marcos TX 78666. The main number at city hall is 393-8000.

Joe and Laura Schneider
San Marcos

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0 thoughts on “Letter to the editor: Land use planning doesn't mean a thing

  1. The main legal justification for a zoning change that does not conform to the Master Plan is if the city discovers that there is inadequate land in the city to accommodate the type of zoning requested. In other words, if the city does not have sufficient space planned within the city for the kind of multi-family zoning that is requested, a zoning change might be justified. So far as I can tell, there is plenty of multi-family land within the city that could be zoned MF-12. Consult “Texas Municipal Zoning Law” if you want the citations to the caselaw. The Planning and Zoning Commission has inadequate training about the law of zoning and land use and seems completely unconcerned about learning about the law that governs its work. This is primarily because citizens will not sue them for malfeasance and they will not avail themselves of the referendum process to enforce the Master Plan. At present, the City Council is dominated by the developers, who are more than pleased to take advantage of the P & Z commissioners’ ignorance and their propensity to do whatever developers want, rather than honor the plans the citizens decided were best for the city, which is what the Master Plan represents.

  2. Come on SMLN / Newstreamz, where is the coverage of the P&Z meeting? It took a letter to the editor to get this info out? What got passed, and what is the city council going to be voting on? This will be a “door buster” meeting on next Tuesday, and you all are quiet? Thanks to the Schneider’s for their letter.
    Folks in Precinct 116, 330, and 336, I hope you are meeting and coordinating your opposition before Tuesday. There were some good points made, and some very good passionate speakers, but the opposition did not seem coordinated. Make sure you are writing your council members, and talking to them about how you want them to vote before Tuesday. Yes the developers have momentum, hired lobbyists, and their money at stake on this. But, the citizens of the neighborhoods have their voices, their internet, their phones, and the power of the ballot.

  3. “New apartments next to old neighborhoods might tell potential home buyers that their investment in a home in San Marcos would not be protected.”

    At least the city would be sending an honest message, then.

  4. The San Marcos Horizon Master Plan has become a worthless piece of paper since our city council shows they have no intention of protecting it.

    The P&Z Commission (Is this right?- Sherwood Bishop- Chair,Bill Taylor , Vice-chair,Curtis O. Seebeck, Randy Bryan, Jim Stark, Allen Shy, Bucky Couch, Chris Wood, Jude Prather)- maybe they should be educated about the law?

    But didn’t home owners in Franklin Square (newest development) take the bait of a new “private” park from developers to sit down and shut up when the s***storm started? People will sell their souls for a cheap price. Which is why the Master Plan should be protected at any costs.

  5. Am I missing something here or does anything really matter when big money and players are involved? Why does council make it seem that citizens input and opposition to these things matter. All we need to see are the Carson and Gilmore names dropped in here and well there you have it . What a crock.

    “One of the partners, Gordon Muir, took in with a jovial hand-holding moment with former Councilmember Pam Couch.
    Pam Couch’s husband, Bucky Couch, recently was elected onto the P&Z just after Pam Couch’s term on the council expired.
    Mr. Coleman reiterated that the property will be left as ranch land. Less than three years later, the property that was cleared for ranch land is now in the process of being developed for proposed mixed use.
    When the city council approved a development agreement for the proposed project in December, Mayor Susan Narvaiz touted the Buie Tract owners’ diligent work in having documents in order.”

  6. I think maybe the goal, since we can’t raise the income level in San Marcos, is to lower property values, so that more people will be able to afford to buy houses.

    It’s a bold, out of the box, strategy.

  7. I don’t know but have you seen the prices that new homes start at? How do sell that ? My home value went down but my taxes went up. I know nothing new, but come on. Ted you need to get on that council but I know your waiting for school board, and I hope you get it soon! We need a real bold out of the box person on board! Vote Ted 🙂

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