Buie Tract developers Rick Coleman, left, and Gordon Muir, right, address the San Marcos City Council in support of their project. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
After continued public outcry against a controversial development in the western stretches of the city carried no weight with the San Marcos City Council Tuesday night, most of the rezoning changes approved on May 4 for the Buie Tract remain.
Councilmembers who voted for the rezoning classifications for the Buie Tract earlier this month decided to not reconsider their vote Tuesday, effectively making the changes permanent. Opponents of the changes have been quite vocal in arguing that the new designations disregard the citizen-produced Horizons Master Plan, which calls for Very Low Density Residential (VLDR) and Single-Family (SF-6) in the area.
The new zoning designations were altered from VLDR and SF-6 to Medium Density Residential (MDR), Mixed-Use (MU), and Multi-Family (MF-12).
The only portion of the development in which the changes approved earlier this month will not apply is a 12.88 acre tract fronting Franklin Street. City officials announced late last week that the developer will have to re-initiate the zoning process for that property after it was determined that the city hadn’t notified all of the property owners within 200 feet of the proposed change, as required by state law.
Residents appealed to councilmembers for or against reconsideration of the zoning changes on the other three tracts within the project during Tuesday’s citizen comment period, a process full of emotion lasting for more than an hour.
Among those speaking on behalf of the project were developers Gordon Muir, Rick Coleman and his son Chase Coleman, project consultant Ed Theriot (who use to work as an engineer for the city of San Marcos), and project engineer Steve Ramsey. Also speaking for the project were Pam Couch, who served on the city council until last December, and Economic Development San Marcos (EDSM) Executive Director Amy Madison.
“In the Buie Tract development it seems we have hit a home run,” Madison said, adding that the project has economic development pluses and pointing to developers’ measures of buffering sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge features.
The Buie Tract is on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, a crucial detail in much resident concern about the project. Opponents also say they dislike the idea of more apartments coming into San Marcos.
Opponents of the changes have named Couch in flyers questioning her integrity and called to end her right to speak in favor of the project at council meetings and at the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z).
Community activist Camille Phillips, formerly the president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), argued to councilmembers that Couch should be not be allowed to lobby council, given that she’s only recently come off the dais. Phillips said that retiring councilmembers shouldn’t be allowed to appeal to council for a year after their service.
Phillips also said that a conflict inheres in Couch lobbying the P&Z because her husband, Bucky Couch, sits on the commission. After Pam Couch decided last year to not seek re-election in the November 2009 race, she signed on as the treasurer of record for council candidate Ryan Thomason, who sat on the P&Z at the time. When Thomason won election to the city council last November, Bucky Couch was named to the P&Z.
The P&Z will take up the 12.88-tract fronting Franklin Street at its May 25 meeting. City Manager Rick Menchaca said that portion of the Buie Tract has to go through the re-zoning process over again after Franklin Street resident Joe Schneider alerted city officials of the city’s neglect in notifying six homeowners in that area. Menchaca said Tuesday that the city’s Geographic Information System (GIS) missed updated information in the appraisal district.
In light of the new development of the city’s inaccuracies, Councilmember John Thomaides pressed Menchaca for assurance that the other tracts in the Buie Tract for which rezoning requests were brought forth did not also fall victim to the computer glitches. Thomaides said residents neighboring the other tracts of the Buie property have complained that they, too, were overlooked by the city notification process concerning the proposed changes, which now have become permanent.
Menchaca said he’s confident the mistakes affecting the 12.88-acre tract didn’t permeate the whole process, adding that due diligence was put forth.
“(City) staff physically went through each one manually to make sure that others got (notification) too,” Menchaca said, adding that staff went over the information three times to avoid further mistakes.
Menchaca said two petitions have been submitted rejecting the rezoning of the Franklin Street tract from SF-6 to MU. If the owners of 20 percent or more of property within 200-feet of the tract oppose the zoning request and petition city government, then a supermajority of six councilmembers will be required to approve the changes.Email | Print