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

by ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz and Carma Texas General Manager Shaun Cranston told city residents Tuesday that they will attempt to address environmental concerns with the proposed Paso Robles development.

Narvaiz said resident worries about the use of reclaimed water on the development’s 18-hole golf course have stimulated to a search for an alternative.

Several residents complained at a special city council meeting Tuesday about potential pollution to the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone from the proposed use of treated waste water on the golf course. Opponents to the project say drugs and endocrine disruptors used to treat the city’s waste water and effluent could potentially trickle into the Edwards Aquifer and compromise water quality.

Plans for the gated community’s golf course on the south edge of the city indicate that between three and five of the course’s 18 holes will be situated above the Edwards Aquifer.

Narvaiz said a possible solution is the use of potable water, as opposed to reclaimed water, thereby eliminating the chance of treated waste water components making their way to the aquifer. Narvaiz said another alternative has been brought up, adding that she will provide details once discussions begin on that option.

Cranston said he’s open to discussing possible alternatives to the use of reclaimed water.

“Carma’s commitment to the (Paso Robles) project is to make the best project that we can,” Cranston said.

For MercuryPro members only



Read the full story. Join MercuryPro today. Click here.



Email Email | Print Print

--

22 thoughts on “Mayor: City looking for new plan to water golf course at Paso Robles

  1. Thank you for reporting this information, especially since there were no updates provided by the Mayor or City Council from the dais. All of this news about Carma and the City exploring different water options (for the golf course) was conveyed after the Public Hearing, directly to the reporters, and to those in the public who happened to be in conversation with some of the principal people. That’s too bad, because there were a LOT of people in attendance (when you count the council chamber plus the general foyer) who would have appreciated knowing about this news on the water options being explored. Hopefully they are coming to San Marcos Local News to get updates and information!

  2. Here is a soft copy of the Paso Robles FAQ document that Shaun Cranston (Carma) distributed last Wednesday evening during the Information Session. I am posting it here so that more people can see the responses from Carma to the points, and then we can discuss further here, too. Also, Shaun is very open to speak directly with anybody who has further questions and input. And, yes, once I carve out some more time, I certainly have some feedback to some of the answers myself, too! Many thanks to Shaun for providing this information to us here in electronic format.

    Paso Robles FAQs

    Q: Carma tried to force 110 onto McCarty Lane. What else might they try?

    A: Carma requested that the City of San Marcos initiate a study to see the need for FM110 west of IH-35. The Transportation Impact Analysis for Paso Robles did not require FM 110 in order to develop the community. Since that request, the City Council has removed this section of FM110 from the Thoroughfare Plan.

    Q: What makes Carma feel Paso Robles will fare better than Blanco Vista?

    A: Paso Robles is a different product type in a different location than Blanco Vista. They were never designed to attract the same consumer.

    Q: Up to 1.2 million gallons per day of “reclaimed water” they will use to water the golf course along with all the fertilizer and chemicals, why do we want a golf course built on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone?

    A: A quality golf course was identified by Carma’s research as a key motivator in people who would consider moving to San Marcos. Carma has agreed to construct and operate the golf course based on the recommendations of Audubon International. This golf course is proposed to be a daily fee public course available for anyone to use and enjoy.

    Q: 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?

    A: Carma is requesting that the City consider a Tax Increment Refinance Zone (TIRZ) to help reimburse for certain infrastructure that benefit the public good for the City of San Marcos. Carma will pay for the upfront cost of this infrastructure, and has requested that the city reinvest a portion of the new property taxes generated by the development to help offset some of the costs. This plan does not spend existing tax dollars and would not use tax dollars generated from anywhere other than the Paso Robles Community.

    Q: 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?

    A: Carma has submitted a list of certain infrastructure to be considered for reimbursement. Much of this infrastructure has been previously identified by the City of San Marcos as necessary to provide additional capacity and service levels to the southern portion of the city, and the infrastructure benefits the public good.

    Q: Is Carma borrowing the money for the TIRZ, or is the City of San Marcos borrowing the money for the TIRZ?

    A: Carma will be paying for the costs to supply and install the identified infrastructure. If approved, the TIRZ will reinvest new property taxes generated within Paso Robles to pay for the installed infrastructure. Funds paid by the TIRZ are based on actual captured tax payments from within Paso Robles, and not from any existing tax source.

    Q: Are there any scenarios where the City of San Marcos would have any liability for the TIRZ money?

    A: The City Attorney has ruled in his opinion that the TIRZ obligations would not be dependent on the City’s General Obligations.

    Q: Should the recent headlines we read, “Brookfield Homes seeks merger talks with Carma Developers” pose any concern to us?

    A: Carma is currently wholly owned by Brookfield, and we do not anticipate any changes to how we will operate should the Brookfield Board of Directors decide to act on their announcement.

    Q: Has our City Finance team considered the negative implications of another TIF on our books?

    A: The City’s Finance Department has played an integral part in our discussion of any proposed TIRZ and they have indicated that this plan would not negatively impact the City.

    Q: 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?

    A: The Blanco Vista TIRZ Board is comprised of representatives from the City of San Marcos, Hays County, the general public, and Carma. All meetings are posted and all minutes and required reporting is filed with the State of Texas.

    Q: 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?

    A: Since 2006, Carma has participated in over 50 formal meetings with representatives of the City of San Marcos, and has also participated and presented in 13 Public Hearings at various Boards and Commissions, including the Parks Advisory Board, the Transportation Advisory Board, the Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council.

    Q: We now hear apartments are going to be built in Paso Robles, too. Can Carma provide more information on this latest news?

    A: The PDD as presented and recommended by the Planning & Zoning Commission has always allowed for apartment uses within the community. However, regardless of the ultimate density of the project, the total number of units for the community has been capped at 3,450.

    Q: Community members believe we are still not getting an appropriate amount of (true) parkland planned for the Paso Robles development (not even the minimum required by the Land Development Code).

    A: Paso Robles provides over 340 acres of land for open space and recreational uses. While it is true that the actual Parkland Dedication is below that as directed by the LDC, the LDC also allows this land to be dedicated to the City in an unimproved form. Carma is proposing to develop the lands we are dedicating as Parkland and have requested consideration that as a whole, the community does much more to bring recreational opportunities to the City than if we only provided 46.5 acres of unserviced, unimproved raw lands to add to the City’s inventory of tax free holdings.

    Additionally, Carma has pledged money to assist in the purchase of a 289 tract of land to be used as a regional park for all of the citizens of San Marcos to enjoy. On August 17, the Parks Advisory Board recommended adopting the Parks and Community Services staff recommendation for Paso Robles by a vote of 8-0.

    Q: What are the latest estimates for % of impervious cover in Paso Robles? What are the math details supporting that figure?

    A: All impervious cover limits are at or below the limits set by the City of San Marcos. Calculations supporting this were reviewed and approved by the City’s Engineering and Planning Departments.

    Q: How does this proposed development resonate with a properly developed Comprehensive Watershed Ordinance?

    A: Paso Robles is in conformance with the approved Watershed Protection Plan. Additionally, Carma is committed to designing water quality controls that will remove 85% of Total Suspended Solids in the Recharge Zone and 70% in the other areas of the development. Currently, the City of San Marcos has no requirements for TSS removal.

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

    A: Carma has worked on this community with City staff and administration, as well as State and Federal authorities since 2006. We believe that we have properly vetted the community and all of its aspects in a responsible and public manner.

  3. The Austin American has an online artilce also today, quoting the mayor as saying that the 3 or 4 golf course holes that are on the recharge zone will not be using treated wastewater.

  4. Their answers still seem vague and glib.

    EX: asking specifically if apartments were going to be built. Didn’t answer question and even said “regardless of the ultimate density of the project” blah blah. Well, what IS the ultimate density??? That’s set in the Horizon plan , right?

    EX:Also the question about the amount of water used for the golf course was ignored.

    EX: Didn’t answer who was borrowing the money (IMO) Carma or SM.

  5. Who says that they will keep their promises?once they get the approval to start building, then it’s there’s to do whatever they want.That’s how these big developers operate,they only care about HOW TO MAKE their millions.

  6. It’s why some cities in the game avoid projects as costly and as risky as these huge, plug-in subdivisions. If most cities “venture,” (i.e., get into the land-flippin’ game, it is usually of necessity, and hand in hand with US, State, and/or other local governments to help soak up any defect in the “dream. Also within the embrace of rigid enabling laws and stark penalties. And then there are bonds and binders and contracts–more than one way to skin a cat. A specific and legally-binding agreement would be laughed out of the house, since that isn’t the way the sophisticates play–the “High- Rollers,” that is. Can’t kill ALL the bugs maybe, but we sure might spray for them. Step on what we can.

    These folks coming through lately seem all to negotiate from a position and attitude of strength, not “applicants” or “supplicants,” but the boys who intend to drive our bus. The rumor must be pretty strong here that this is a great place to “do a deal” of ANY type and run off with a pile. Kind of like an armed robber who has a secret accomplice inside.

  7. Public Hearing, Tuesday @ 6pm at City Hall, show up, voice your concerns. The aquifer (and, consequently, the headwaters of the San Marcos River) is in serious danger of pollution here if a golf course is built. This is too serious and irreparable an issue to ignore the pollution concerns. Here is the latest update from San Marcos River Foundation’s Dianne Wassenich:

    “PASO ROBLES: Last Thursday we finally were able to meet with an aquifer expert to review the geological assessment that Paso Robles did for TCEQ. We learned that there is only a tiny corner of recharge zone on the land, but a lot of contributing zone and transition zone land, both of which are very important to the aquifer. The contributing zone funnels runoff to the recharge zone. If the tiny corner of Paso Robles recharge zone is lined under the golf course, the runoff will just be funneled past the border of Paso Robles to neighboring landowners, and the pollution will sink in to the aquifer there. This will still affect the city wells, refugium wells and private wells very rapidly. So if this community is foolish enough to locate a golf course here and water it with effluent and use pesticides and chemicals on it, then the aquifer, the wells and the springs will be rapidly polluted—even if the city does not allow effluent to be used on the recharge zone, and even if a liner is built under the corner of the land that is recharge zone. We hated to hear this.

    We also learned that the transition zone is south of the contributing zone, more toward Hunter Rd., and in this area the karst limestone rock is just below the surface soil, under anywhere from a few inches to several feet of soil. During construction and blading, if an aquifer expert is not right there watching this zone, the rock can be uncovered and opened up to immediate penetration by runoff—-just like the recharge zone. It is the same Edwards karst rock formation. So this land is pretty much covered by these three zones and the aquifer is in serious danger of pollution here, if a golf course is built. There have been some big news stories lately in San Antonio about aquifer pollution that people did not know about for decades, and so they drank polluted water from their wells, with very serious health effects. Recently three sewage spills on their recharge zone have sent e. coli into people’s wells, sickening people. This is a very easily polluted aquifer formation, and San Marcos MUST require the developer of this golf course to test annually around this golf course to avoid having people drink this pollution for long periods without knowing what they are drinking. We recommended to Council in a letter today that they find an aquifer expert they trust, who is reputable and widely recognized as an aquifer specialist, and rely on them for advice. And it should not just be someone who is paid to say what the city wants to hear. This is too serious and irreparable an issue to ignore the pollution concerns. If you wish to email your comments to Mayor and Council, send via cityhall @ sanmarcostx.gov.”

    Please show up at the Public Hearing this Tuesday, August 31, at 6pm at City Hall, to express your concerns to the Mayor and City Council. It is going to take a lot of public protest to keep bad things from happening here.

  8. Where does the runoff from the Aquarena golf course go? I’m assuming Spring Lake…just wondering.

  9. Here is a draft of what I plan to say at the 6pm Public Hearing today. Well, as much as I can squeeze it into 3 minutes of public comment!

    “Last Thursday, San Marcos River Foundation leadership met with an aquifer expert to review the geological assessment that Paso Robles did for TCEQ. While we all know there is only a tiny corner of recharge zone on the land, the big news discovered is that there exists a lot of contributing zone and transition zone land, both of which are very important to the aquifer.

    The contributing zone funnels runoff to the recharge zone. If the tiny corner of Paso Robles recharge zone is lined under the golf course, the runoff will just be funneled past the border of Paso Robles to neighboring landowners, and the pollution will sink in to the aquifer there. This will still affect the city wells, refugium wells and private wells very rapidly.

    So if this community is foolish enough to locate a golf course here and water it with treated wastewater and use pesticides and chemicals on it, then the aquifer, the wells and the springs will be rapidly polluted—even if the city does not allow wastewater to be used on the recharge zone, and even if a liner is built under the corner of the land that is recharge zone.

    They also learned that the transition zone is south of the contributing zone, more toward Hunter Rd., and in this area the karst limestone rock is just below the surface soil, under anywhere from a few inches to several feet of soil. During construction and blading, if an aquifer expert is not right there watching this zone, the rock can be uncovered and opened up to immediate penetration by runoff—-just like the recharge zone. It is the same Edwards karst rock formation.

    So this land is pretty much covered by these three zones and the aquifer is in serious danger of pollution here, if a golf course is built. There have been some big news stories lately in San Antonio about aquifer pollution that people did not know about for decades, and so they drank polluted water from their wells, with very serious health effects. Recently three sewage spills on their recharge zone have sent e. coli into people’s wells, sickening people.

    This is a very easily polluted aquifer formation, and San Marcos MUST require the developer of this golf course to test annually around this golf course to avoid having people drink this pollution for long periods without knowing what they are drinking. Mayor and City Council, you need to find an aquifer expert you can trust, who is reputable and widely recognized as an aquifer specialist, and rely on them for advice. And it should not just be someone who is paid to say what the city wants to hear.

    The EAA has very clearly stated 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.” This is too serious and irreparable an issue to ignore the pollution concerns.

    I am still surprised we are seriously considering authorizing a golf course on top of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone here in San Marcos. If it passes, then other communities will certainly question our resolve and dedication to protecting the Aquifer. We are asking other communities to practice restraint and not pump as much water as they can pump, since they are on a deeper part of the aquifer. This costs them a lot of money, and we are asking them to do it to preserve our community’s resources. We have the federal laws about endangered species on our side, but we are not protecting the species ourselves if we allow harm to come to our water quality, which definitely affects the very species that we are depending on to keep our river flowing.

    We are not opposed to growth in general or this annexation in particular, but we want any references in the service plan to reclaimed wastewater use deleted.

    Beyond the environmental concerns, taxpayers are being asked to help fund Paso Robles. The residents of Paso Robles will be paying taxes to the City of San Marcos. The TIRZ is intended to take some of that tax money. How much, we don’t know. If there is some leftover tax money after the TIRZ gets their money, we don’t know. If that remnant of tax money is enough to pay for city services, we don’t know.

    Some people say this is money we wouldn’t have had otherwise, so it should be treated as free money. But, the reason citizens pay their tax money is for the city services they need. The TIRZ will divert those tax dollars away from the city, potentially leaving the rest of the citizens to pay for COSM services provided to Paso Robles residents, in their private gated community.

    The current Mayor and most of the City Council have a track record of being willing to give away taxpayer dollars to retail developers. Our city leaders have more than doubled our long term debt and obligations during the past five years. Our currently proposed budget still has us spending beyond our means (drawing down on general funds, for example).

    I do not believe we should annex Paso Robles without knowing what the TIRZ will exactly say. Our city leaders cannot honestly tell us the answer to these two very pertinent questions, because the answers will be spelled out in the executed TIRZ:

    (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?

    All the talk and representations and suggestions in the air are just that, words in the air at this point, as it relates to these two questions. What counts is what is in writing, what counts is what is going to be executed in the TIRZ.

    For us to annex Paso Robles, with glib pronouncements that a mutually beneficial TIRZ will be executed, is not fiscally responsible. Get the TIRZ details locked down, and then the Mayor and City Council will know just what they are being asked to approve. Better yet, let the developers build this with their own money. Why do we need to a TIRZ in the first place?”

  10. Steve, felicidades once more on your endurance and persistence in getting RESPONSES, if not exactly ANSWERS, to questions. I still am in a bit of wonderment, however. Have all that plethora of “public meetings” been for political purposes, to gin up support and lessen opposition, or have they been actual educational meetings, when scripts and talking points and wiffle-balls that have filled the air at Official Public Hearings, are set aside for plain answers?

    It seems to an ardent observer that the very shape and nature of the “Project” have been changing in rather startling ways since the Baby was pronounced, with great fanfare and self-congratulations, to be ready for delivery. A person not taking careful notes would surely have lost track by now of exactly what is being discussed.

    Are we still confused about the role of Carma, Ltd., Developers? Do some of us still persist in believing the same guys will build out the thing as came in for approval? I think the common practice is for the lead guy–Developer–to get the money in the bag and the approvals signed, and then to market those things to the “next fellow”–usually an entity that wants to BUILD either all or some part of the project. There are often a lot of “next fellows” for various parts, such as the commercial, the multi-family, etc. And of course, the Course.

    I didn’t quite get the part about the approaching update of our Master Plan. Is the Plan being updated to suit the “things that need to change,” or should the Plan be driving the changes being made?

    Also, I am confused about the absolute limit on numbers of “units” being capped at 3,450. Is a R-1 single-family structure the same “unit” as one in a MF-25 building, in terms of traffic, occupancy, infrastructure need, etc.? If not, then the “security” offered by the cap is horse feathers. Seems to me that IMPACTS differ from “unit” to “unit.”

    Bless her, Ms. Moyer is just TOO ingenuous in stating that the Staff “just provides the Council with information they need to make a decision.” And Mr. Taggart had to get the word from EAA on golf courses from Steve Harvey, after the fact? Ask me, the Honorables are asking for information to SUPPORT a “decision” they are just lusting to make. But you “outside agitators” keep getting in the way, with your facts and questions. How can Council and Staff feel good about themselves when you keep giving them wedgies in public? Must be a terrible embarrassment, happening right in front of all those “to whom assurances have been given.”

  11. “Why does San Marcos feel the need to bring in a Canadian company for this kind of stuff?”

    San Marcos is not bringing in anyone. The Canadian company OWNS the land and can develop it “by right”. Land development is not a communal thing.

  12. Anybody view the results of proposed paso robles
    looks like i wasnt alone in welcoming this to our community. Alot of people are hearing about it now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

:)