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Associate Editor

A standing room only crowd of San Marcos residents converged on the Mariposa Apartments Wednesday night to discuss the proposed Paso Robles development with city staff, Mayor Susan Narvaiz, and the developers.

Narvaiz and staff presented background information and the approval process for the project on the south end of the city. Residents presented concerns about traffic, wondering how local roads would lay out.

Numerous residents stormed City Hall early this month to protest against the possibility of the proposed FM 110 running through McCarty Lane. Residents argued that expanding McCarty Lane to a four-lane divided highway would adversely affect their properties. The city council ultimately voted unanimously against realigning a portion of FM 110 with McCarty Lane, and the city is set to review the matter in an upcoming transportation master planning process.

The proposed gated Paso Robles development would, at full build-out, consist of 3,427 single-family units, a daily fee golf course and club house, walking trails and parks, as well as a retail component at the southeast corner of Hunter Road and Centerpoint Road. The total acreage of the site is 1,338, built to 2.7 units per gross acre, with 50 acres dedicated to commercial development and 381 to open space, which includes the 18-hole golf course, community centers, public parks, hike and bike trails, and other open space and buffer areas.

A big concern for local environmentalists has been the proposed method for watering the golf course that is, in part, over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. The developers have said they will water the golf course with reclaimed water, troubling environmentalist with the possibility of effluent and pharmaceuticals reaching the Edwards Aquifer.

Shaun Cranston, Carma Texas General Manager, said a golf course helps protect the Edwards Aquifer, as it limits impervious cover. Reclaimed water also will be used for landscaping irrigation through the development.

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20 thoughts on “Narvaiz, Cranston discuss Paso Robles with citizens

  1. What jobs in SM pay enough to support 1,000+ homes that start at $300K? I mean legal ones.

    Oh well, fill them with retirees that always vote down school bonds so the school system will just get worse that it already is. Great plan.

  2. None, but they’ve got them in Austin and San Antonio. Turning San Marcos into a bedroom community is the wrong way to go, but developments like this will push us further that direction.

  3. Kyle, New Braunfels, Schertz, and Selma they are doing quite well as bedroom communities. Those people live there and support the local economy there. More people move in then business comes. New Braunfels was smaller than us just 10 short years ago. They are now out pacing us greatly. I read today where they are about to open a development that will at 30% to the city. People in your town are a good thing they do more than pay property taxes. When they move in they bring businesses.

  4. Bedroom community is right. We need the jobs first, then the housing plans. I think they have this backwards.

  5. Actually, SMCISD should do quite well with Paso Robles. Let’s see, the requirement are that at least 1 person has to be over 55 and that there can be no child under the age of 18 living in the home for the majority of the development. That means that these folks are going to be paying into the school system yet they will not be putting any burden on the system at all.

  6. Over 55 means a higher probability of over 65, so you have to factor inthe homestead and over 65 exemptions in the tax formula.

  7. Looks as if, now that far more information is available for public view, it all comes down to one’s judgment about the Mayor’s brief statement above about “our three major problems,” of which CARMA addresses one. Is this a SOLUTION, a WISH, a GAMBLE, or a GESTURE? What about its relationship to the ‘OTHER TWO’? Does this version of “housing variety” help or hurt a) alternative transportation and mobility; b) the “perceived struggles” of SMCISD; c) our ability to attract high-paying jobs to the community we LIVE in, rather than one just down the road; d) our water supply; and e) the voerall QUALITY OF LIFE of our fellow citizen-residents?

    Think I’ll let Selma and the “OTHER I-35 bedroom communities” worry about themselves. I don’t live there or pay taxes there.

  8. I have to agree without people and a work base you will not attract jobs. Other cities just to the north and south are attracting jobs but it was becasue they had places for people to live first. You have to show business people you have that work base before they will come. Those people that drive into your town to work are only paying taxes when that eat lunch. If they bring their lunch you are going to be paying higher taxes.

  9. It seems that the folks who would move into this community would not likely form a “work base” since it’s an upscale retirement or near-retirement community. From my perspective, it looks like the reason folks have flocked to Kyle and Buda was because you could buy there for pretty cheap, so that doesn’t seem like an apt comparison.

  10. Building this development will NOT bring a work force to San Marcos. That is, not unless our target work force is over age 55. If we want to promote work force develoment in San Marcos, then let’s plan something that encourages young professionals with families, not empty nest pre-retirees.

    Ten years from now, when that development still sits half empty and the City is paying for all the infrastructure thanks to an ill-advised tax incentive zone, we will clearly see the folly of this plan. Too bad it will be too late then.

  11. Two really big issues still exist with Paso Robles as currently proposed: (1) treated wastewater, and (2) financial incentives.

    (1) Carma wants to use up to 1.2 million gallons per day of treated wastewater for the golf course along with all the fertilizer and chemicals. Fish and Wildlife folks are worried enough that Dr. Tom Brandt showed up at P&Z to express concern from the National Fish Hatchery perspective. The refugium has much more than our local endangered species in it – they have species from all over Texas there and are growing rapidly, and doing a lot of research. Their well is absolutely essential and must be perfectly clean water for their use. So yes there is a lot of concern at the refugium about pharmaceuticals, plus the pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers.

    This land is running along the conduit that is called the San Marcos and Comal Springs faults, a dropped fault block that allows what is essentially an underground “canal” or conduit of aquifer water to flow from New Braunfels to San Marcos, the main flow path. It parallels Hunter Road. The flow path goes to Primer’s Fissure and Ezell’s Cave before it goes to the San Marcos Springs.

    Once Carma starts placing the up to 1.2 million gallons of wastewater onto the golf course situated on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, then it will be too late to protect the aquifer once the aquifer is polluted. San Marcos has to be protective of not only the springs (and consequently the San Marcos River), but our city wells, Crystal Clear wells and the many private wells, too. None of those wells have treatment facilities to remove these chemicals.

    There is no treatment on these wells, city, refugium and private, and Crystal Clear water company wells. Hundreds of wells, since this is a sweet spot in the aquifer. So people will be drinking the pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, at least, and maybe also the pharmaceuticals from the effluent used on the golf course.

    Here are a couple of blog entries from Annalisa Peace (Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance) on emerging contaminants:

    http:// /annalisapeace/2010/05/prescription-for-healthy-water.html

    http:// /annalisapeace/2009/06/no-silver-bullets-for-treating-emerging-water-pollutants.html

    (remove the spaces in the above links to take you to the webpages)

    We now hear apartments are going to be built in Paso Robles, too. Can Carma provide more information on this latest news? And, how does this proposed development resonate with a properly developed Comprehensive Watershed Ordinance?

    Citizens are not opposed to growth in general, or even this annexation in particular, but only if it is going to be developed correctly, developed in a way we can all be proud of in the future, developed with proper regard for current citizens and the environment. The City of San Marcos draft service plan (for providing city services to the annexation area) should have ALL provisions for wastewater use DELETED.

    (2) Carma wants financial incentives (money) from the City of San Marcos to help them build their high-end private gated residential community. Is that what we want our tax dollars funding? Why should we consider huge financial incentives and long-term second-order obligations that help a large number of homes densely packed together, along with a golf course, get built over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone? Carma feels the City should pay for certain infrastructure that the City says the developer (Carma) should pay for. But now it appears the city staff has been silenced on this point. What is the real answer to this question? Is it by law or regulation, or simply by whoever negotiates best? Carma’s assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, some citizens believe that in certain scenarios, the TIRZ translates into General Obligations which must be paid by the City of San Marcos taxpayers. We have now been told that the answers to the following two questions will ONLY be determined AFTER the TIRZ is negotiated and finalized:

    (a) Is Carma borrowing the money for the TIRZ, or is the City of San Marcos borrowing the money for the TIRZ?

    (b) Are there any scenarios where the City of San Marcos would have any liability for the TIRZ money?

    We should not annex this land until the details of the TIRZ have been clarified.

    Also, the City of San Marcos has more than doubled our long-term debt and certificates of obligation. Has our City Finance team considered the negative implications of another TIF on our books? Note the Center for Local Innovation article:

    http:// /site-docs/CLI/2008issueguide/taxincrementfinancing.html

    As a point of comparison, how is TIRZ #2 performing to plan? Can anybody tell us who is on the TIF board for Blanco Vista and where and when do they meet and where can we read the minutes of their meetings and get a current financial statement?

    Carma’s timetable shows they have been lobbying COSM for a TIRZ since December, 2008, and that, “Staff has briefed City Council on several occasions during Executive Sessions providing updates on the status of the discussions.” What other secret meetings have been held?

    Paso Robles is one of the biggest deals we will consider in our history. It feels like things are now getting rushed all of the sudden to get this deal done. Have we had enough time for proper public scrutiny of the deal before we rush into annexing them into the City Limits and setting up a TIRZ?

  12. You are right about the speed of annexing. Is the city prepared to serve this area? I believe a Willow Creek resident complained that they were still waiting for services promised to them. It’s a shame that SM has existing neighborhoods in need of attention, but the pricey new developments will get the tax payers’ money. Then again, the pricey new home owners will be sorely disappointed when the city moves on to the pricier, newer development next year…

    Thanks Steve for your work on this. Your entries are always very well written and concise.

  13. Yes, city services in Willow Creek would be nice. While we do have fire hydrants, there is not enough water press to use them.

  14. Steve: I wrote a post telling you my disagreement with you about the “water issue” being addressed, except for the golf course. FAR from it. But just when I punched “send,” a gnome seems to have brought my computer to its knees. If I can find t, I will send it, but don’t hold your breath. The rest of the “Water Issue” story revolves around general urban runoff, W/WW facilities and expansion, upcoming Storm Water Abatement costs, our coming “water crisis,” future alternative supplies (who will provide them, from where, and what they will cost us, etc.)–you know, all the stuff I and my fe4llow “water-heads” worry about, which are concentrated in this spot in space and time.

    Also had a couple of obnoxious questions about the Univ’s and Mayor Bob’s new tech center, which is near ground zero. They are scientific questions, asked out of curiosity and concern. But they do involve water quality guarantees, in a very sensitive area, as well.

  15. Oh, and about that other cry we hear so often: ” We just don’t have any houses fit to live in–that’s why we can’t attract executives, professionals, and high-paying jobs.” First, we should all be insulted by that. Second, I think I shall faint if I hear it from our “Towers of Power” one more–notwithstanding seeing it in endless print, which is the very worst “E.D.” announcement one could ever make to the outsider who is looking at us, as they do, secretly.

    A house JUST went on the market near me–the home of an executive professional, old and well-known San Marcos Stock. Price range: upper $3K’s. Quality: a dream home, flexible and elegant. Just re-done for sale. Like new. Realtor: Another BISM, VERY god at what he does, and very successful. A REAL “jobs-bringer” could move right in, and the trees, etc. are in place, so no “getting settled” problems. There ARE others. I read the ads.

    Then, almost anybody “in the game” will tell you you can buy and build “custom,” including choice of every variety of neighborhood, much more cheaply than just about anywhere in the world–esp. “metro” areas. We do have LOCAL people like the redoubtable Mr. Seebeck, whose JOB is doing that. And who are really good at what they do. And who are building with environmental conservation at the top of their suggestion lists.

    What we truly have, I think, is maybe not a shortage of “decent” housing, but an over-supply of eager Realtors and would-be “wealthy Realtors,” most in second careers. Our true professionals will be here long after CARMA/Casa “Rubles” is just a tear in the community eye.

    Look at the 24 Aug. City Council Agenda one more time, and see if there are not too many “golf balls, old tires, and other solid junk” to cram down the pipeline at one meeting–a carefully-planned “Junk-shot” to get the deal done, once and for all, without further interference from affected citizens ALL OVER town–the “little people” and the perennial trouble-makers who think they have some right to see the fine print in “deals” being done in their names.

    The Agenda is too big, the time simply too short, for a single meeting. If that meeting is to be an honest one.

    Slow ’em down a bit more, sez I. For a REPUTED $750M WINDFALL, surely the proponents can hang in, even until after Mayor Susan has left the building. And I must say, the terms of the “deal” keep improving, since NS blew the whistle. Don’t ask ME. Ask yourself or a neighbor. Check the Agenda. Go to the meeting. It should prove historic, if you have no other reason to pay attention. Likely also educational.

  16. New Braunfels has outpaced San Marcos because the schools are better. San Marcos is buffered between towns with better schools before you get to the major cities that have the jobs. The only thing SM offers those working in Austin or San Antonio over NB, Buda, Kyle, Schertz is a longer commute.

  17. I obtained copy of an EAA letter against treated wastewater being used by Carma in the proposed Paso Robles golf course. Email me (steve.harvey @ if you want a copy of the letter. They very clearly state that “use of reclaimed water on the recharge zone is not in the best interest of aquifer water quality,” and “incorporation of reclaimed water into the aquifer would represent a degradation of ambient water quality.”

    Perhaps our City Staff somehow forgot about this letter when they sought to reassure the P&Z Commissioners to not worry about using wastewater on the golf course? Or, is this another example where critical staff assessment of the merits is being suppressed in order to hustle the approval process before November elections?

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