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

August 4th, 2010
Council calms residents, deletes portion of FM 110

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The San Marcos City Council deliberates at Tuesday’s meeting. Photo by Sean Batura.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

San Marcos City Councilmembers voted unanimously against re-aligning a portion of the proposed FM 110 with McCarty Lane Tuesday night after numerous citizens turned out to protest to the possibility.

Instead, councilmembers decided to delete the disputed portion of FM 110 from the city’s transportation master plan.

As a result of the deletion, the disputed portion of FM 110 will not pass through a 1,338-acre, gated community planned by Carma Development, LP. However, the deletion also relieved citizens who were concerned that an expansion of McCarty Lane to a four-lane divided highway would adversely affect their properties.

The deletion does not eliminate a request from Carma Development for a $30 million tax reimbursement to defray the costs of infrastructure improvements in the Paso Robles project.

In response to questions from San Marcos Planning & Zoning (P&Z)  commissioners last Tuesday, San Marcos Development Projects Coordinator Bill Couch said the proposed deletion and re-routing “is, in part, a response” to Paso Robles.

“This segment of (FM 110) went through (Carma’s) property, and they did not want it to go through the property, and so it’s being moved to McCarty,” Couch said. “It’s in the development agreement.”

Other motives for the proposed relocation of that segment of FM 110 were the conflicting locations of the existing San Marcos National Fish Hatchery & Technology Center and the proposed Texas State University Research and Commercialization Center.

ETR Consulting Development Consultant Ed Theriot said the creation of Paso Robles does not depend on the absence of the disputed portion of the loop from the city’s transportation plan. Theriot said Paso Robles is proposed to include 3,450 homes and 50 acres of commercial units on Hunter Road. Theriot said another 10 acres of neighborhood commercial development could be included in the project.

FM 110, also called “San Marcos Loop,” is proposed mostly to loop around the eastern portion of the city to connect Interstate-35 at McCarty Lane on the south to I-35 at Yarrington Road on the north. The portion now deleted was to begin at I-35 between McCarty Lane and Centerpoint Road and run west to the terminus of McCarty Lane.

During their transportation planning processes in the next 20 months, the city and Hays County may fill the gap in the loop with a section of roadway located somewhere else, or continue the westernmost portion of the loop along a major arterial road already found in the transportation master plan southward past the terminus of McCarty Lane.

The recently-completed Wonder World Drive extension provides a quick route from Interstate 35 to western Hays County, while McCarty Lane dead-ends in the city’s western extraterritorial jurisdiction. Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-Wimberley), who expressed support for the Paso Robles development, said the western portion of the proposed loop is “obsolete” now that the Wonder World Drive extension is open.

“Suddenly, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to have McCarty as a major arterial, Centerpoint as a major arterial, and a loop between them,” San Marcos Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer said. “So that’s where the idea of the loop or this piece moving over (to McCarty Lane arose). Was that a good idea? Obviously, it was not a good idea for us to propose that. Does it mean that the city or the county would go out and purchase right of way and create that road? No. What it means is that as property along McCarty redeveloped, additional right of way could be obtained with the redevelopment.”

Moyer said staff proposed moving a portion of the loop to accommodate Paso Robles, the fish hatchery and the Texas State commercialization facility.

The P&Z) held a public hearing on the FM 110 matter at about 11:25 p.m. on July 27, but no one from the public was still there to speak about it. About 20 citizens spoke out about FM 110 at Tuesday’s city council meeting as people crowded the council chambers and lobby.

P&Z commissioners voted 6-1 last week to recommend deleting FM 110 from the Transportation Master Plan. Commissioner Jim Stark abstained. Earlier that night, P&Z commissioners voted to delay recommending the Paso Robles development agreement and related zoning changes until their Aug. 10 meeting.

Residents said turning McCarty Lane into a four-lane divided road would negatively affect their quality of life. Some residents said building the disputed portion of FM 110 may result in environmental degradation and habitat destruction over the sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, through which much of that portion was to pass.

One common complaint among residents Tuesday was that the city had not sufficiently notified them of the proposed re-routing, and that the proposal did not appear on the agendas of the city council and the P&Z. The two agendas indicated only that the bodies would hold public hearings and consider action to remove a portion of FM 110 from the transportation master plan.

Mention of the proposed FM 110 portion relocation to McCarty Lane appeared in the lengthy backup material accompanying the agendas. The language of the relevant motion P&Z commissioners voted on last week only refers to the deletion of a portion of FM 110, not to its relocation to McCarty Lane.

The proposal to delete the disputed portion of FM 110 was bundled into one agenda item with two other unrelated transportation master plan amendments. P&Z commissioners cast one vote in favor of all three items last week. The city’s agenda refers to FM 110 as “Loop 110,” while the P&Z agenda refers to it as “CR 110.”

Moyer said the city could have utilized a “much more transparent” and “inclusive” planning process.

“I feel awful for all these people who are out here at 9:30 at night, who just heard about this,” Councilmember Kim Porterfield said. “Their lives have been disrupted, really, because of a poor communication on our part. And so, I want to apologize.”

Conley represents the residents on McCarty Lane who live west its intersection with Hunter Road. Conley is the Hays County Commissioners Court’s representative on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), which distributes millions of dollars in federal and state dollars each year. CAMPO has no funds this year for FM 110, and projects no available money in future years for the project.

Said Conley, “Even if the city — which, I know the city won’t do it — but if the city were to change your master plan and align that state highway on McCarty — as you well know, mayor, that would have to be amended at the MPO, which would be blocked by Hays County. So there are several checks and balances in our system.”

Mayor Susan Narvaiz represents the City of San Marcos on CAMPO.

Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos), who represents the McCarty Lane residents on the other side of Hunter Road, was not present at the city council meeting.

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7 thoughts on “Council calms residents, deletes portion of FM 110

  1. I went to the City circus tonight. Why should I be surprised that I saw an elephant.

    Actually I attended the “City Open House” which was billed as an opportunity to give input on the selection of a City Manager. I misread the announcement so I thought I was going to actually attend a meeting. What it was, was a drop in and leave that lasted for an hour and a half. The host, or facilitator in government speak, was Kay Stroman. Mrs. Stroman is a local San Marcos resident. She is the contractor who has been hired by the City of San Marcos for $20,000 to “facilitate”, “organize” or screen resumes for the position of City manager and City Clerk. I was under the impression that the city council had hired a recruiting firm to look for another City Manager. Kay was very nice, polite and an obvious competent woman. She was the previous VP of Human Resources at Grande. Kay started her own business about six months ago and primarily works out of her house. According to Kay’s LinkedIn profile she engages in “Leadership coaching and consulting; connecting your human resources to the bottom line. Also, certified in administering and analyzing DISC behavioral assessments and providing associated training, coaching, teambuilding workshops; professional mediation services.”

    Kay is really what most HR types would call an Organization Specialist. There in lies my confusion with the City Manager hiring process. I had assumed that Kay would be a recruiter. Kay does not claim to be a recruiter and when I asked her about how she was going to source job applicants, she said she would attempt to call around and see who was available but that was not her primary job focus.

    I discussed with Kay, the number one recruiting principal for high profile jobs. The most qualified person for the job is often the person who does not apply for the job. I learned this principal from my wife who, until her recent retirement, was a senior level recruiter (read Head Hunter) for Advanced Micro Devices in Austin and California. She tells me that for directors, V-P and super grade electrical engineers, you spend a lot of time sourcing candidates. By sourcing she means finding applicants that are happy and successful in their current job. Look for the up and comer and next years super star and then sell them on your job offer. Or you should look for an very experienced and competent person who is ready to move on for what ever reason.

    As impressed as I was with Kay Stroman, I don’t think that is the job she has signed on for and apparently that is not the job the council wants her to do. So none of my comments should be regarded as negative about Kay. She is going to do what she was hired to do and that does not seem to be to be directed to make a strong attempt to recruit a new city manager but rather take what we get in the in box and sort them for the Council. Kay did not get to be the HR director for Grande without a lot of talent but I suspect that she is being set up to be taken down the primrose path by some with an agenda to find something other than a strong city manager. It seems like the next time we need an organizational development and training consultant, we could do a lot worse that Kay and keep it local. But right now, I am uncomfortable with the whole hiring process. As Chris would say, just saying.

    I am some what disturbed by this approach to selecting a new city manager and city clerk. I can not imagine what the Mayor and Council are thinking. I would think that we would want to look for the best and brightest we could find but it appears that we are going to limit ourselves in the search. Plus, the whole thing is suppose to be over in about 55 days. When I owned my own business, I have spent more time than that looking for a staff accountant.

    Back to the open house. I left about 15 minutes before the end so I can not speak to anybody who came in after I left. Total, maybe 15 people wandered in, 20 tops. We all kind of set around the tables and visited about this and that. Attending was some of the usual suspects who already have strong opinions about how this process should play out. There were no city employees or elected officials in attendance, with the exception of a police officer who was monitoring the thing for the police union. We were each given a sheet with 4 questions such as “please briefly describe the perfect candidate for the position of City Manager, San Marcos, Texas”. I didn’t bother to fill out the questionnaire because I don’t really think anybody in City Hall really would give a damn about how I would have answered that question.

    I should have gone to last nights City Council meeting. It sounds like you guys had a lot more fun than I did. We didn’t even get cookies and Kool-Aid.

    Charles Sims
    I attend the deadly dull meetings so you don’t have to.

  2. Thank you Charles.:
    “I attend the deadly dull meetings so you don’t have to.”
    My advice is to never drink the Kool-Aid. I’m just saying….
    battle on.

  3. IMHO (and with a long historic knowledge of our planning history): This whole tempest in a teapot is and was a diversion–bringing up phony “plans” that never existed, in order to knock them down, calm the artificially-panicked McCarty residents and call attention away from the truly salient issues surrounding the CARMA proposal. Made the Honorables seem responsive to those in harm’s way, but was totally irrelevant to the real issues at hand. As Mr. Theriot was cited in the article, they weren’t really inconvenienced by the 110 discussion in any event. Then why, oh why, bring up the subject at all. There are still SOME survivors at City Hall who know the actual history. I think Ms. Laurie Moyer is one of them, but in her tenuous position, what IS a good and honest woman to do? I pray for her nightly.

    See full comments in another thread.

  4. I am truly sorry that Mr. Sims has got me upset all over. I say, based on not a little experience, both at the City and at “the Rising Star of Texas” (as well as auditing courses in public administration, business administration, management, etc–OK, I am a freak.): Any BODY who would hire a City Manager who has no formal and specialized education, no professional certification, and no experience working INSIDE the amazing complexities of city government and administration, would ride a crippled bull with a blindfold on and hands tied behind the back. The legal niceties alone, which can cost a City its literal ass, are astonishing. The functional practicalities of daily management and direction of a city staff are Byzantine in their complexity, and becoming more so every day.

    Once more, “Mayor Susan”‘s public rationale notwithstanding, to hire THAT quickly and in such a slipshod fashion is out of touch with reality. (Not to pick on her alone–she does have six Constitutional EQUALS on the SMCiCo.) Once more, just for old time’s sake: GOVERNMENT IS NOT BIDNESS, AND BEARS ONLY A PASSING RELATION TO IT, STRUCTURALLY ALONE, AND NOT FUNCTIONALLY.

    True, there are some skills in common– “getting along with others” comes to mind, a criterion invoked to terminate our last hardy CM. Of course, seeing light and hearing thunder. But bidness is practical, profit-oriented, arbitrary, and responds only to the proprietor or the Board of Directors, if it is sizable. The CEO is slave to the investors only through direction of the Board. In our Charter, we give the CEO much more power and discretion, and the stockholders (voter/taxpayers) are AT the table, and can supersede the Board. It seems as if there is enduring confusion in this town about who is the Real Boss. Just “an excellent Manager” with an impressive resume ain’t enough, Earl and Beulah. Either such a person, or this town, would be lucky to last two years.

    And having nipped off the power center from BOTH the citizens AND the City Manager, a person (anybody) cannot bequeath that power to a chosen successor. SM is not General Motors, and neither is it a hereditary monarchy. The average citizen needs to be reminded about once a week until the notion takes hold. Legally, our hierarchy goes down from the top: voter/taxpayers; City Manager; Mayor and Council. Does this confusion have anything to do with the truth about why Mr. Menchaca became so quickly “unsuitable”? He may have got confused about his role? Odd, that seems to have happened a couple of times before, in recent years. Check the Record. Doing it any differently requires a Charter Amendment voted on by the unwashed public, who still will remain the Boss. So far.

    Once more, I find myself agreeing with Mr. Sims (Argh!). The poor consultant-lady is being used as a stalking-horse. She simply does not have either the connections, the personal knowledge, the network, nor any other tool that assures she can “source” a big-league, really qualified City Manager. Could it be that there is a mysterious stranger already preparing to jump in from waiting in the wings and be hailed as some sort of new messiah? If so, could we poor loonies just find that out and give up? If we and reason are down for the count already, let’s get on with the next bout. This one seems all but over.

    By the way, I have sent my personal Manager criteria to “the Editors” and a sizable group of trusted friends. So don’t ask why I missed Charles’s nutrition-free meeting recounted above. Ask a friend or neighbor. Or two.

  5. Eureka! An early Sunday morning epiphany (No, it was not God, I think, who whispered–I lack Sister Sarah’s and Ted’s and Glen’s speed-dial connection.).

    I’m putting money on the table, bets in small increments, about Steve’s fear of the Pasa Robles “once on a lifetime deal”– small bills only, all takers:

    In our pursuit of good Christian “right-to-life policies, or $$$, it goes like this at the Council meeting:

    Near coming full term, both the baby and the Mother are in extremis. There are several signs of sickness and early-delivery syndromes. The tension is high. We refuse to abort the Thing, choosing minor surgery. The baby has a couple of minor operations, knowing they are nonetheless critical, if the deformed little monster is to live. The Mother has already guaranteed that, even in the event of her own demise, the community will go to whatever expense to make the poor bastard viable (That was in the last Episode, Homer and gay-Pearl!). The docs are determined and highly skilled. There is already a perpetual feeding system set up in tax forgiveness (bankable $$$) provided by a concerned citizens’ group called taxpayer/citizens.

    There will be no partial term abortions on our watch. That’s just wrong, and would besides ssooo disappoint the creature’s relatives and make everybody sad and guilty. The thing won’t abort on its own, yet can’t be delivered as is–too weak to survive. So the surgery is performed. Some minor pieces are altered or taken out as a bargaining concession. The Mother and the crowd are reassured that if THEY give a bit more, somehow the Devil-child will at least live until everybody goes away and forgets. Thus, another miraculous story about a genetically-deformed baby poorly conceived, given the miracle of life!

    Which is to say, Paso Robles makes some minor, symbolic concessions. The taxpayers, the taxpayers, through their valiant leaders, make some more allowances and agree to clean the O.R., sterilizing it by licking it and breathing hotlly on dirty surfaces and mopping and toting the trash, so the scene belies the seriousness of the procedures. The Godfathers, the bankers and money-men, risk nothing as usual, and seem satisfied–they WILL get theirs.

    Paso Robles is approved with mainly inconsequential modifications, and staggers off into the future, smiling and drooling and soiling itself. Steve and his posse go home disgruntled and puzzled. The Mother Superior uses the event to vault over the walls out into the money pit. There is mixed rejoicing and mourning. But the surgical team, the lesser midwives, continue to catch hell from observers long after the fact for not thinking more, trusting others, and acting less impetuously.

    Prayers of thanks are said, there is jubilee among the relatives, and everybody else stands around speaking in low tones about the victory-almost-tragedy, and wondering if the disfigured and deranged infant will be strong enough to succeed to maturity, though with heavy doubt. All this unless something changes between now and Tuesday, which hardly seems likely to happen, since most of the “closest family” could not be found for notification in time to attend the birth. They were shopping, watching fall the fall foosball season take off, or being entranced by “Mad Men” or NASCAR…or just napping. Casa Robles 1, City 0. The Mama deliberately let it get too far into term before revealing her pregnancy–AGAIN. Had we only known about the brain-damage earlier!

  6. In the end, the whole CR thing may hinge on our Joan of Arc, Ms. Dianne Wassenich, with her deep and technical knowledge of the area geology and the water dynamic therein. She has commented publicly, to a largely ignorant and apathetic public, about the existence at Casa Robles of significant recharge features, and the presence of the San Marcos Springs and Comal Springs faults, which are virtually open pipelines into our respective Rivers, and which carry as well much of our drinking water.

    The proposed development, with is size and proximity, seems to present the threat of Water waste, runoff, pollution and heavy use, not only in the underground water, which belongs under Law to whomever can suck it up fastest, but associated surface waters of the State, against which offenses are Illegal by Texas Constitutional and statutory law. Treating water like that in Texas is forbidden, and can get mammoth fines (though not with the Perry TQEC so much) and/or jail time. Dianne has already shown that these same practitioners have gone on the record with sloppy and mistaken judgments in the recent past and in a related way. Weak engineering and hydrology, to name a couple of example, with a whipped-cream topping of perjury.

    The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (Todd Votteller or Bill West), in nearby Seguin, would make interesting witness/commentators. So would our own Dr. Glenn Longley, of the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Authority, which dates back to 1973 and sits on the University Campus. So too with the “Water King,” Andrew Sansom, of the Texas Rivers Center (1999), also on campus. So too with Dr. Larry McKinney formerly TPWD here, now at the Coastal Studies/Marine Fisheries Facility at Galveston. Our own Mark Taylor, of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, which is in the last leg of establishing comprehensive Rules and DENSITY regs over the Aquifer. So, to, the US Department of the Interior, which administers the Endangered species Act, among other related things. These scientists cannot but have similar thoughts to Diane’s. Even common sense should take care of it, but usually can’t: “You neither poop nor run cattle upstream from the drinking water, or build over it and interrupt its normal flow.” All these folks may not step from Porsche’s or Lamborghini’s, may neither Gucci “pimp-pumps” nor Lucchese hand-tooled full ostrich boots or carry alligator briefcases, but they are honest and smart and ready. And able.

    Could a lawsuit or a Temporary Restraining Order from a savvy Judge slow down the runaway train? Then advocates could proceed to make their baby fit to live, if only to be smaller and less sickly. And the citizens wouldn’t have to feed it welfare for thirty or more years. Or keep its dirty diapers in our house forever, Diane has the stake for the heart, and the friends to help her drive it, should she choose. Would anybody help her? For Pete’s sake, hit the emergency cord. Slow the train. See who falls the cow-catcher. Then and only than, if it’s good, do it. If not,…

    The bottom line: if there is a deal-breaker in here, test it out, ignoring ALL the diversions and side-issues trucked out, and the glorious promises, which at best are only air–breath and palaver–and card tricks. Look@the $$$$.

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