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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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