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

September 16th, 2010
Carma seeks concept plan change for Blanco Vista

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Melissa Neslund of Bury & Partners, left, and Walt Elias of Carma Texas, right, discuss proposed changes to the Blanco Vista concept plan with the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission. Photo by Sean Batura.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

Carma Texas is asking the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) to accept a new concept plan for the Blanco Vista community in northern San Marcos.

Carma’s new concept plan would remove the current cap of 70 townhomes and increase the possible amount of multi-family units from 180 to 900.

Carma has agreed to meet with city staff in the next two weeks to nail down the details. City officials are concerned that Blanco Vista residents bought their homes expecting to be surrounded by single-family homes.

“Did they buy into that neighborhood thinking that there would be no more than X number of townhomes and no apartments with college kids?” asked P&Z Commissioner Curtis Seebeck. “That’s, I guess, the bottom line that concerns me. Did they buy into a nice, peaceful, quiet, single family neighborhood where their kids could ride their bikes down the street without worrying about drunken college ki … I’m not picking on the college kids, but … drunken apartment complex tenants, let’s put it that way, speeding up and down the streets because they have no property ownership interest in the (neighborhood)?”

The proposed concept plan amendment also would allow mixed uses anywhere in the development, except where commercial and multi-family uses are specified. Multi-family uses would be relocated from the northwest corner of the development to the vicinity of arterial or neighborhood collector roads. Commercial uses would be relocated from the northeast corner of the development the vicinity of arterial or neighborhood collector roads.

The proposed amendment also would increase the development’s density from 4.9 units per acre to 5.5 units per acre, or from 2,060 units to a maximum of 2,287 units, according to city planning staff. Blanco Vista lies on about 575 acres just north of the Blanco River near Five Mile Dam Park.

Blanco Vista’s current concept plan restricts multi-family buildings to a heavily-wooded, 50.5-acre hill in the northwest corner of the development — the location that is the furthest away from roads and utility infrastructure and in the most difficult place to build. When asked by a P&Z commissioner “whose idea was that,” Bury & Partners engineer Charlie Fowler, speaking for Carma to the P&Z Tuesday, said he did not know. Fowler said moving multi-family uses from the hill would benefit the city and Blanco Vista residents.

Bury & Partners planner Melissa Neslund said the current concept plan for Blanco Vista contradicts mixed use zoning district standards and undercuts the intent of a mixed use, master planned development. San Marcos Assistant Director of Development Services Matthew Lewis said the current concept plan has resulted in administrative problems for the city and Carma. San Marcos Senior Planner Sofia Nelson said the proposed concept plan would make it easier to track impervious cover and living unit equivalents.

“We do have some problems right now, which setbacks to enforce — mixed use or the ones that are on the concept plan?” Nelson said. “In those respects, (the amendment) is an improvement. But, quite frankly, there’s a predictability problem that we have. The (proposed) concept plan is asking for a lot of flexibility, but the concept plan is also intended to be a document that a citizen or someone within the development can say, ‘This is what my subdivision’s going to look like, these are the type of uses that we’re going to have.’ And it just doesn’t provide that level of predictability.”

Some P&Z commissioners said they were not necessarily concerned about Carma building Blanco Vista in an undesirable manner, but about what the next property owner might do if Carma elected to sell the land.

“I know that ultimately we have to look down the road (and ask), ‘What if this flips hands?’ But, from a trust standpoint, you guys have gone the extra mile in putting stuff in before you even had a house on the ground,” said P&Z Commissioner Randy Bryan to Carma representatives. “We had elementary school land dedicated, the fire station land dedicated, the rec center built. I mean, they’ve gone above and beyond … and the land they dedicated for the soccer fields, that’s a huge asset, for San Marcos to have … We actually had a tournament a couple weeks ago. To be able to bring those in, that’s great for our economy … My concern, though is, if the property is sold. That would be my big concern. I see their track record over the past decades. It’s a pretty good one.”

A concept plan is usually finalized at the beginning of the development process. There are about 102 homes already built at Blanco Vista. Carma’s concept plan for Blanco Vista was first approved by the P&Z in 2004, and amended in 2005 and again in 2007.

“You’ve got 102 people that bought into a community and now plans are changing on them,” Seebeck said. “No offense to Carma, but they claim it as a master-planned community. How can you have a master-planned community if the plan changes? … If I was living in that neighborhood, and I was thinking there would be a maximum of … 70 townhomes and 180 units of what’s there, and now we’re seeing a maximum of 900 multi-family units and an unlimited number of townhomes … I would be pretty ticked-off at this commission that approved that.”

P&Z Commissioner Travis Kelsey concurred with Seebeck’s statement. Bryan then suggested that Blanco Vista residents be notified of the possible impending changes to the development’s concept plan. Bryan said he knows people living at Blanco Vista who are concerned that only 102 homes have been sold, and said they would like to see the development be successful.

Walt Elias of Carma Texas suggested inviting all the residents to the next P&Z meeting, where a new version of the concept plan will be discussed. Elias said he would pay for the cost of notifying all the residents of the meeting, and the P&Z agreed. One commissioner said he doubted whether the city could fund such a notification effort.

Neslund said the intent of Blanco Vista is to be a master-planned development to include residential uses in conjunction with nonresidential activities, all types of residential uses including single family townhomes, loft-style multi-family, central greenspaces, and traffic flows that allow people to move freely without automobiles.

Carma also is working with city officials in the attempt to win final approval of the Paso Robles development on the south side of San Marcos. Carma is asking the city to support the creation of a Tax Increment Refinancing Zone (TIRZ) that would repay the developer $20 million from the property taxes to be generated improvements in the land value.

(Editor’s note: The above story and cutline have been revised, changing most references to Charlie Fowler of Bury & Partners to Walt Elias of Carma Texas.)

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59 thoughts on “Carma seeks concept plan change for Blanco Vista

  1. Translated into english form corpdeveloer that statement means “Oh my god did we screw up, the approved plan is a disaster waiting to happen and this project is fixing to go down the toilet.”

  2. Woohoo! More apartments! I was afraid we might run out!

    It’s about time *someone* thought about the single-family homeowners who get stuck living on top of these apartments when plans change, Thanks Curtis.

    Maybe if we stopped ruining residential neighborhoods, more people would buy homes here. I wonder how many people chose not to buy in Blanco Vista, because they expected this very thing. I wonder how many will choose not to buy in Paso Robles, Windmere, or many of our established neighborhoods, for the same reason, if this is approved.

    I know I still have a hard time recommending that anyone buy a home in San Marcos and each year, when more friends and aquaintences move out of town, all I can do is sigh.

  3. BTW, it looks like one of our recent P&Z commissioners was so pleased with the results of all of the “adjustments” the commission has made to zoning in our neighborhoods, that he packed up his family and moved to Comal County.

    What a ringing endorsement that is.

  4. I can’t say much for their timing seeing as how they don’t have everything sewed up with Paso Robles. Looks like they would have waited.

  5. Bob how would the timing look if Blanco Vista goes down the toilet before everything is in place for Paso Robles? Imagine that conversation with the Council. We need this variance, and that public money but our last deal died a horrible death, this one will work, we promise, really. But we may need to have the development agreement changed later on.

  6. And the point I have made all along re: Paso Robles is validated. We have been asking for months how this developer can be selling Paso Robles to Council when their other project has been an unqualified disaster.

    NOW the question that should be in the forefront of everyone’s minds is “if they are wanting to change the Blanco Vista plan, how in the world can we count on them to do what they’re promising with Paso Robles?” Can you imagine the outcry when they sell a couple dozen “high end retirement homes” in Paso Robles and try to slap apartments up next to them later on when the rest of the lots just don’t sell?!?!?

    I don’t think we can. I hope, for this town’s sake, that our Council is smart enough to see that and pull any promise of City funding – guaranteed or contingent – from the table.

  7. Will P&Z cave on this matter? Will enough money be waived in their faces to sway the vote? Or will justice prevail? Zowie! Zonk!Kapow! Stay tuned…same sanmartian station….same sanmartian channel….!

  8. Let’s see if the votes on this home page change for the proposed Paso Robles development so far 72% of us are in favor…..?

  9. Speaking of P&Z caving, I was so pleased to see Curtis Seebeck and Travis Kelsey pushing back, that I didn’t even think to ask what Jude Prather, the commissioner running for City Council, had to say on this issue.

    Anyone know?

  10. YouTube….. Paso Robles San Marcos. It will give u an idea of the plans they have. I like it personally

  11. Thanks, Ted, for the kind words! I believe most, if not all, of the P&Z Commissioners were also concerned about changing the rules to allow apartments. I am 99% positive Jude was as well, he is just not as vocal and obnoxious as I can be!

    And EddieQ, your statement/question is completely out of line. How would money affect the P&Z Commissioners unless you are insinuating a bribe of some sort and that is disgusting for you to even hint at something like that.

  12. Thanks for the information and thanks again for looking out for the homeowners in that development.

  13. Sean…you have made a mistake on this. The gentleman shown in the picture is Walter Elias with Carma. I believe he is he project manager for Blanco Vista. Also, the 3rd paragraph from the end where it is talking about notification, Walter is the one who mentioned it and agreed to pay, not Fowler.

  14. Dream Team, sadly, the issue is whether those plans mean *anything*. There are some nice Blanco Vista plans and videos out there, too. None of them say anything about an 900 unit apartment complex, or unlimited townhomes, but here we are.

    For reference, it appears that Bishop’s Square has 134 units, Cabana Beach has 276, The Heights has 270, and Treehouse has 138. That’s 818, so take all four of those, fairly large complexes, and shoehorn them into Blanco Vista. Then upsize it by another 10%. Then add a Sagewood or two, for good measure.

    Oh, and bring them in closer to the houses, away from the edge of the development and out of those pesky, sound-deadening trees.

    Sounds lovely.

    http :// collegerentals .com/Texas/SanMarcos/ (apartment complex sizes)

  15. I was just talking about Paso Robles. And that company Sunrise co. they will be using for development, top notch. I have been out to Royal Oaks in Houston where they developed , and played their course. I did notice they took some pics from that clubhouse and course. I still 100% behind this development

  16. Yikes. Part of me feels for Carma, because they’re out there trying to make this development work and it isn’t. So they’re coming back with a plan to sell large parcels of the development to a few buyers (the Larry Peels of the world), rather than tiny parcels to lots and lots of homebuyers.

    if I were Carma, I’d jump all over that.

    But of course, I’m not. I’m just a guy who, like some folks above, has heard from many out-of-towners who might consider moving here but have opted against it. Why?
    1. Trains (no kidding people….28 blaring horns a day, all day and night, is a huge turn-off topotential buyers)
    2. Historic neighborhoods awash with rundown rentals
    3. Apartments as far as the eye can see

    My wife made an interesting observation recently. She said San Marcos is like a huge basement in your parents’ house. College students stay in the basement for four years, have their run of the place, leave their junk lying around as if they expect Mom to pick it up, and then one day they up and leave. But there’s always a new kid to move into the basement, and it starts all over again.

    Not every college town is like that, but San Marcos is. And the most influential people in town seem to be in the Basement Supply business. Their primary concern is keeping the basement rented, no matter what that means for everyone else.

    Ladies and gentlemen, looks like we’re about to do a basement add-on. And it’s gonna stretch all the way 5-Mile Dam.

    That is one big cellar.

  17. Tarl-

    Funny.

    And sad.

    And not entirely untrue, although I wouldn’t pin it on the college students, because as you said, not all college towns are like this. Also, there are plenty of college students here, who aren’t like that and plenty of non-student renters who are. I think the bigger issue is that most renters do not see this as a permanent home. They have plans to buy houses *somewhere else*, when they get jobs *somewhere else*. Also, many of the places are dumps when they move in (Sagewood), so they’re just doing as the Romans, when in Rome.

    The reality is, our elected leaders need to get *much* more serious (and much more proactive and diligent) about making San Marcos a desirable, and practical, place to live long-term.

    Dream Team –

    I don’t care if it is annexed or not. I just don’t want to see the city taking out of town (state and country) developers at their word and buying into all of the fluff about what a wonderful addition this development will be, and all of the jobs it will create (???), and the tax revenue it will generate, and how we simply *must* give in to every request for variances, concessions, money, etc., or this “once in a lifetime” development will pass us by.

  18. Ted, of course you’re right. Our daughter goes to Texas State, and I know for a fact she picks up after herself.

    I agree with your point….that the city needs to do more to make this a desirable home for people and companies that pay salary-level jobs.

  19. Ok, there you guys go again. Picking on Sagewood. Just about the time I was getting up enough nerve to ask my wife if I could move in to Sagewood for one good last semester. After that, I can go to the nursing home knowing I have missed nothing in life. I am just going to rip the garage door off and have a keg delivered every day for 4 months.

    Oh wait, my wife just looked over my shoulder and read my post. Not only has she dashed my dream of living at Sagewood with three college girl roommates but she has made an appointment with the vet to have me microchiped. Where is Lisa when I need her.

  20. Thanks Curtis.
    Not sure why others think businesses come first….you got to have customers to support businesses. and all we know is that San Marcos customers are moving to other places. Really bad timing for Carma (I’m actually surprised they didn’t wait to announce this)- I imagine they’ll lose alot of their prospective “customers” for Pablo Rosa because of bad business practice. Not that I’ll lose any sleep over it…

  21. Curtis Seebeck is spot-on. I know at least one Blanco Vista resident that is going to be making noise at the next P&Z meeting. If Carma is going to pull this kind of crap on the people that moved out there, then this “flexibility” they want needs to be firmed-up. There needs to be serious, enforceable performance standards on any multi-family that goes in out there, as well as strict standards for the form. And there needs to be discussion about who will have access to key amenities, such as the community center & pool. The people that bought in Blanco Vista bought because they thought it was far enough out that they wouldn’t have to deal with rowdy college students. The people that bought in Blanco Vista bought because it has all of the key elements for raising kids: a neighborhood elementary school, safe sidewalks, a community pool, community parks, close access to a semi-regional park with recreational facilities, and potential for development of neighborhood-compatible commercial uses.

    You want to know a reason why people bypass San Marcos when looking for a place to raise a family? It is because of crap like this. No predictability. It is impossible for a homebuyer in San Marcos to be confident they are making a good investment because this city ROUTINELY changes zonings and creates “flexibility” for incompetent, unscrupulous developers (never thought I’d say that about Carma). Hell, this city might as well just abandon zoning and go to the Houston model–they approve every damn thing that gets put in front of them anyway. That is basically what Carma is asking for in so many words.

    Mrs. Nelson is showing keen awareness of the implications of Carma’s request. The question is, can she force the issue at the staff level (something previous staff were unsuccessful in convincing administration of the need) or convince the P&Z to do the right thing? That is not an easy thing to do these days. She is 100% correct that the concept plan has issues that must be resolved, but it needs to be done right and protect those people that purchased homes to raise families in Blanco Vista.

  22. I just laughed myself into tears Mr. Sims. However the current home owners there need to be a part of the discussion. Blanco Vista right there next to 5 mile dam, the river, the hills and with all the amenities out there is a beautiful family neighborhood.

  23. Folks, I hate to break it, but this is the way bidness is done routinely in fly-by-night circles. Get it awpproved, with a little slack somewhere-anywhere–and then get gradual “ADJUSTMENTS” and “considerations.” Then go to the original plan, which is the money plan behind Plan A. Flip it, then let the later owners seek their own “adjustments” on grounds that the existing restrictions make failure inevitable. City figures, “we’re in for a penny, might as well get in for a pound.” Staff is muffled. Commissioners come and go, and you can sell the newbies anything except appearing to stand in the way of “desperately needed development.”

    Of COURSE we have too many apartments. But they are not all occupied by “students.” Many are young family types commuting out of here each day. And “students” are NOT the ones, as a rule, buying and renting to multiples. Those are your neighbors, many of them faculty members “on the Hill,” who use slum-lording as a source of serious outside income. Or consortia of locals and out-of-towners operating from “investment” or “property management.”
    offices. These are NOT charities or public service projects, but high-dollar moneymakers, usually cushioned by planning shortcuts, variances, “allowances,” tax beaks, and most recently, City incentives. As soon as the cream is skimmed, ownership passes, and original investors are “Gone With The Wind.” Sound planning? Community fit? Customer satisfaction for the first-comers? Frankly, My Dears, they don’t give a damn.

    We have a group of little-leaguers making policy as if they belonged under the Big Lights. They are, today, simply outclassed. Out-maneuvered. Out-budgeted. Neither serious enough nor experienced enough to know what “sustainable development” even MEANS. The Leader and friends have a case of HUGE eyes, little stomachs. But it is the established residents and taxpayers who get the indigestion. Of course, the Greek Chorus of real estate moguls-in-waiting help to keep us careening along this course. Which we will do until we call a halt.

    A vote of “no thank you” is the first and best answer. Takes a bit of brain and guts, but it HAS been done. And private-sector developers, while they don’t like it and don’t often lose, CAN take the consequences of poor decision-making, just like the rest of us. Thank you once more, Mr. Seebeck, deeply, for caring about the long term. That is why they call it a “Planning” Commission, not an “Approval” Commission. Everything is for tomorrow, when the bills come due, not for today, when it all seems like a board game.

    Mr. Sims: I must confess that it was I who signed the original approval for Sagewood, as one section of a very large Master Plan. When we saw it at P&Z, it was parft of a HUGE compromise–not a good or satisfactory one, but one exactly like the one being now proposed–better than the alternatives presented. After approval, it morphed.

    Now let’s hear it one more time for the incredibly weird, certain-to-be-different-than-promised Paso Rubles! I talked to a major developer in SA about the project, presenting it by duly repeating the standard talking points, just to see what I’d hear. He said, “Your grandchildren might be retiring before it is built out as you describe it.”

    And no, concerned citizens, future owners will not be greeted by agents telling them truly what to expect of their subdivision. As a rule, they neither know nor care, and at any rate they have no liability for buyer ignorance.

  24. Mr. Prather, since you’re running for city council and your vote effects the lives of hundreds of people, the question is: were do you stand?, and how you’re going to vote if the majority of the people who lives there don’t agree with the new plans?.
    In my opinion All members of the P&Z should consult with Mr. Curtis Seebeck before they vote, I think he cares about our city at the same time he’s willing to listen to people concerns on both sides of the issue.

  25. Mr. Moore is absolutely correct. The truth lies with the numbers. According to Carma they are telling us that full build out will happen within 12 years. With those numbers they are going to have to sell 25 homes per month, every single month for 12 years to live up to THEIR numbers, not our numbers. That’s an average of closing 1 home per work day. Curtis should understand and know that these numbers might not be attainable in this area along with the country’s economic predicament.

    If you break that down these numbers further they will have to sell 1 buyer at 55 years or older per day who, in this economy can afford this home along with wanting to live in a college town.. This type of housing might have been able to pass sales mustard if it was in the housing boom 5 years ago in retirement type towns such as Las Vegas or Phoenix, and look where these city’s are now with foreclosures.

    To bring in housing for economic development and to be able to raise our median income level, I believe that we should be concentrating on executive style homes with no age limit, with larger lot sizes.

    Development and change is going to happen whether you like it or not. I myself believe that we need a good, well planned, thought out and financially backed development. I’m just not sure this plan at 25 homes a month is comprehensive and attainable.

  26. It will be interesting to see what the homeowners out there think of this, and whether that results in a Buie Tract style “adjustment,” to keep the changes just a couple extra feet away from those homeowners, so that their complaints don’t need to be heard by the mayor and Council.

    Of course, I am getting ahead of myself, but this already stinks and the precedent has been set, and blessed by the dais.

  27. Good points JG, except for one thing:

    “Development and change is going to happen whether you like it or not.”

    Development, yes. Change, no.

    In the 20 years that I have been here, we’ve gone from a medium-sized, poor, college town with few good jobs, lots of apartments, and less than stellar schools, but with TONS of potential, to a slightly larger, poor, college town with few good jobs, lots of apartments, and less than stellar schools, but with TONS of potential.

    IMO, the city has a plan to change, but the leaders keep going back to the same ol’ same ol’. They like to say that there are people here who are opposed to change, and certainly there are some. What they don’t like to say, is that they, in their own way, are leading the charge for no change.

  28. So, Blanco Vista is changing to vast numbers of apartments, sprinkled with commercial throughout the subdivision. Well, this will be interesting to watch at P&Z and Council, and sure to be mentioned often during the Paso Robles discussions. Maybe they can manage to get the plan approved by leaving out certain sections that have pesky homeowners around them who could sign petitions, like the developer did on Buie Tract. Now the final portion of Buie will come before P&Z again on Sept. 28, so that will be worth watching.

    Meanwhile, we continue to try to get the message across: a golf course is not appropriate on the recharge, contributing and transition zones of the aquifer. It will pollute the hundreds of wells in that area. Even lining the golf course will just send the water/chemicals past the borders of Paso Robles, to pollute neighboring properties. Public disclosure of all poundage or tonnage of chemicals used on the golf course is the very minimum that should be required in perpetuity, with all aquifer testing paid for by the golf course managers/developers. I guess we’ll have to rely on the federal refugium folks to test the baseline, keep testing and then require that the golf course be shut down after the pollution is detected. It is not looking like our own city is not going to defend our drinking water. And let’s just contemplate all the sewer line leaks we see in the news every day, and what that would mean in the recharge zone, as San Marcos plans this building boom in the recharge zone with Paso Robles, Buie and Windemere.

    It would make so much more sense to have greenspace along those creeks and ravines, rather than a golf course, since greenspace is an amenity in demand, while golf courses go bankrupt regularly. People buy lots located next to permanently protected greenspace. I’m very impressed that Curtis Seebeck stood up and called out the emperor’s lack of clothes re the promises made to current residents of Blanco Vista. Does anybody remember that the development at the corner of Hwy. 21 and 80 had a similar change to its density plan, later, after part of the houses were built? You are correct in seeing a pattern here, that makes San Marcos unattractive to home buyers. I’d sure like to see some real numbers on how many single family homes San Marcos has, how many duplexes and how many apartment dwellings. Seems to be a state secret. We seem to be the basement of the entire IH 35 corridor, and digging deeper. DW

  29. To the Voters and Taxpayers of San Marcos:

    In the November 2008 election, I was a candidate for Mayor of San Marcos, which was a decision prompted not out of desire, but rather out of necessity, as well as a sense of duty to our community and the people and City of San Marcos.

    Although I did not win that election, I took a degree of encouragement as did many others in our city, that virtually all of the issues that I had the opportunity to bring forth for discussion, gained traction and momentum both during and after the November 2008 election.

    These very same issues were, and are here and now instrumental, toward motivating the voting public toward an inevitable shift in San Marcos political perspective and policy, which I believe that we are on the verge of realizing very soon at City Hall.

    The issues both then and now include:

    Fiscal and financial governmental accountability and spending within reasonable and responsible parameters

    A policy and practice of open government, disclosure and transparency

    The chronic and critical need for professional career growth and opportunity as well as continued job creation in San Marcos

    Management of sensible, sustainable, long term, solid physical and economic
    growth for the immediate present and on into our positive future

    Environmental and water quality concerns: protection and preservation of the San Marcos River and our water supply in the Edwards Aquifer

    Transportation and traffic concerns, which are increasing each year as we continue our inevitable growth as a city

    Preserving the unique character of our city with emphasis on the influence and integrity of our neighborhoods and the preservation and beautification of our downtown districts

    Limits to taxes and utility rates rather than the reverse trend of higher taxes and increasing utility rates with accompanying reductions in services

    Make it the exception rather than a standard policy for the expectation of taxpayer funded subsidies and financial handouts for private special interest groups

    Maintain and develop more available parking, bike lanes, green space, parkland, and seek to implement supportive quality of life features all around our city for the citizens of San Marcos

    Maintain prime focus of the obligation of loyalty and fiduciary duty by our city government and elected officials to the voters and the taxpayers of the City of San Marcos. Set into practice a philosophy of adherance to the proper negotiation and implementation of our tax dollars, with a firm acknowledgement of the binding contract of trust and responsibility to those same voters and taxpayers.

    Many of our citizens feel as though we have not seen a proper relationship between our city government and the voters and the people of San Marcos for some time now.

    I intend to change this, and make OUR city government responsive and accountable to the voters, who ultimately have the final word.

    I ask for your vital assistance in correcting what is currently broken in our city government, as well as reinforcing those many attributes that add to our love of this city, and make San Marcos a truly great place to live, to work, and to prosper.

    I respectfully ask for your confidence and for your vote this November 2nd.

    Your active involvement, as well as your part in our immediate future is crucial.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    David M. Newman
    Candidate for Place 1; San Marcos City Council
    512-216-9749
    davenewmansanmarcos . org

  30. Just a couple of points of clarification…

    The issue with Blanco Vista is a concept plan amendment and as such has to do with platting. I believe, and had it verified by someone at the planning department, we at P&Z are the FINAL SAY on this issue. It DOE NOT go to council. Because it is not a zoning case or land use change, there was no resident notification required either. That was a real concern with most of the commissioners on P&Z. In the interest of open info, most of us felt that it needed to be postponed in order to give the residents of Blano Vista a chance to voice their concerns and opinions.

    Since it is not a require notification issue, it is not appropriate for the city to expend city funds to do notification. As soon as this was mentioned, Walter Elias with Carma immediately offered to do the notification for the next meeting when we were discussing postponement and to pay for all the costs associated from their own funds. I believe this is going above and beyond as a developer and they should be recognized for their efforts.

  31. I appreciate the commissioners looking out for the best interests of the owners in Blanco Vista, I am one of them. I will certainly be at the next meeting. As stated above, we expected them to follow through with what they stated to us. It certainly wasn’t apartments and townhouses in and around our single family home . ( 180 to 900?) I love our neighborhood and feel that the nice folks I’ve met here do as well. Our expectation was to allow our kids to ride their bikes in the neighborhood and to the school, not have to worry about renters driving crazy speeds and having blowout parties because they don’t have a stake in the neighborhood. I assume that Carma’s in a pinch and they have to resort to plan B. What do the owners in Blanco Vista resort to?

  32. Mr. Newman: The trouble with policy niceties like “protecting the Aquifer” as only one of your examples is that ANYBODY can say the words, and will. Our current “leadership” can look you squarely in the eye and claim to have pursued each of the things you suggest. Just as in WDC, however, the activities that back up the policies are abstractions, both assuming and requiring no actual knowledge of the mechanics or economics. Any pilgrim who walks in the door can and WILL say he/she is all about “preserving our historical character” or “maintaining neighborhood integrity,” or for that matter, “improving local education to bring better jobs.” The bait has been irresistable. The results are somewhere between threatening and disastrous.

    (I liken our situation to that of the State of Nevada, which was the growth and money and housing leader in the nation only an eyeblink ago, and which is now reduced to penury and bottom-of-the-pile status, no matter how full of promise it all started. The “promise” was squandered by unwise giveaways/incentives, overinvestment in limited sectors, and outright profligacy in the interest of “looking good.” No consideration. No restraint. Compare with Oklahoma, which is using its bribe money to target things like Boeing, which it has landed. At the expense of others.)

    Mr. Seebeck: It requires damned little “generosity” to pass out a few notices that unorganized citizens cannot react to, especially when many of those notified have little idea what they are seeing, and more especially when they are presented with “teaching aids” manufactured for the purpose of deflecting opposition–sort of like the CARMA PR blitz/public meetings for Paso Rubles. The Blanco Vista case seems like just another classic “bait and switch,” which some also ascribed to the maneuverings surrounding the landmark “new urbanism over the recharge” of the Buie Tract.

    Ms. Wassenich and I go back a long way, to the mid-’80’s, when we both sat on the River Foundation Board. We have not always agreed. We are not terribly like-minded. But the woman is serious and truthful and maybe the most highly-educated person in the village about how to screw up our River and drinking water. The current projects surrounding our OASIS really do threaten our life as a community. Economic and otherwise. And no matter which former oilfield geologist (Dianne and I have met a herd of ’em.) says there is no problem, you can take her word to the bank. I disagree only to a mild extent: if we are to depend on the refugium as our barometer, it will take time, by which the damage will be well on the way to Aquarena. And that doesn’t even count the University’s brand new “fab lab” out by McCarty, which can be banked on to use some VERY forbidding chemicals in its “high tech and nano and chip research.” Great initiative. Really dubious place to put it. Once again, I recommend Todd Votteler’s (GBRA) Dissertation, online at Alkek: “Water From a Stone: Limits of Sustainable Development over the Texas Edwards Aquifer.” (2003)

  33. “billygmoore September 18th, 2010 2:48 am :

    Mr. Newman: The trouble with policy niceties like “protecting the Aquifer” as only one of your examples is that ANYBODY can say the words, and will.”

    Mayor Moore;

    With all due respect sir,….(and both you and I together, go a ways back on this very topic, i.e. San Marcos water issues,)….you know that I do indeed put my money where my mouth is,….as do you.

    I feel as though today (and fortunately) that you and I are both on the same side of the aisle, with regard to preservation of our local water quality as well as our stance on high-density and super-high density residential development out over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

    It is a pretty simple matter to point out those members on our P&Z Board, and also on our City Council, who have indeed cast votes that would potentially, and certainly have compromised our aquifer and therefore have ultimately threatened the continued quality of the water that we use every day in our homes.

    That is a matter of permanent and public record, and is fairly fresh on everyone’s mind as they will be casting their ballots in this November 2nd election, if such matters such as a continuous supply of pure, fresh drinking water here in San Marcos were ever a concern to them at all.

    There are however, those people who arrive in this town, and even get themselves appointed to P&Z and/or elected to City Council, who would run the risk of compromising our water quality, for the short-sighted allure of an exclusive golf course community, or perhaps to be party to the building of several square miles of mega-block apartments, or any sort of high-density dwellings out in that critical direction to the west, just to turn a quick buck here in San Marcos, and then when they are done with us, move on to the next easy deal, somewhere else.

    The very same thing happened with Barton Springs in Austin.

    Are we doomed to repeat their mistake?

    With our drinking water?

    It is imperative that our elected officials have the social conscience, and the knowledge and wisdom to make constructive decisions about future development here in our area.

    There is a delicate balance between (undesirable) no-growth and (undesirable) rampant development,…especially out over the recharge zone, and we need to examine closely and find that balance, before we make the irreversible mistake of tainting our drinking water supply with fertilizers, pesticides, gray water, oil and grease from dense neighborhood homes and traffic, and just the garbage and refuse that collects and disintegrates as a result of added human presence in an area, and then percolates and drains right down into the funnel point of the aquifer just before we tap it for our drinking water.

    That’s the crux of the problem that we face here, and whether you or I Mayor Moore, have anything to do with this in the future, it is my hope that conscientious minds will prevail in our city leadership, and make the difficult but correct decisions with respect to our future and our next generation’s future here in San Marcos.

  34. Mr. Newman: Amen and amen and amen. But I wish people would stop saying,”just wait until Emancipation Day in November. THEN we can get our house in order.” By then, most of the tornado may be over–except for the little mementos still strewn along our path, and the remaining crowd of folks who think everything is hunky-dory at full speed with a blindfold on, and all the “streamlined” processes and policies still operating in their full-out mode..

  35. As head of the Blanco Vista Community watch program, we are very involved with our community, and are trying to build up a great place to live. How unfortunate that Carma is trying to abandon the master plan they already sold us on, and are trying to sneak these changes through without letting us home owners know.

    Luckily, one of the home owners saw this article, and forwarded it on to us. We are organizing the community against the changes, and signing a petition to present to the P&Z Commission, showing our opposition.

    One of the things we really admire about Texas, is how important one’s word is to a Texan, and how they will do anything in their power to fulfill their obligations (yes, I heard it on NPR). It’s a shame that Carma from Canada just doesn’t get it.

    Scott & Sandy Dodson
    Blanco Vista
    134 Fence Line Dr
    San Marcos

  36. I am also a resident of Blanco Vista. First, thanks to Mr. Seebeck and the other members that are taking our concerns into consideration.

    I’m disappointed that Carma made the mistake of not notifying the residents of this change before requesting it from the P&Z commission. Master planned communities take time to build out and since Carma has done this a number of times I believe their well aware of this. I want to hear the whole story on this request along with all of the details and I just don’t have that information yet. While I understand that economic changes can, and do, result in necessary adjustments to long term projects, they should have been up front with the existing homeowners.

    Carma, as the party of superior means and resources, must have been well aware of many of the issues mentioned in the article so I’m a little surprised at some of the statements made. Having worked for several years at a consulting engineering firm that did residential planning, I find it a little hard to accept that no one knows who made the decisions for the location of the multi-family areas. While I support density development, when it’s done right, the increase being requested is so far above the original numbers that I’m suspicious. I realize Carma sells to the builders and they in turn sell to us the homeowners but these changes are drastic variations from the what everyone has been told.

    Plum Creek in Kyle is an example of how long a large development takes to mature. If Carma hasn’t learned that from their other developments I’m not sure we should be considering future requests that rely on their expertise in their chosen field of business. While adjustments are to be expected over the life of a project, major changes in the originally marketed concept are completely unfair to the very buyers that helped them get a development off the ground. If they’re requesting a “do over” I’d like the same option. I’m not saying I’d leave Blanco Vista because I love it here but I believe I should have the option.

    Ivan Talley
    Blanco Vista
    222 Silo Street
    San Marcos

  37. Mr.Seebeck if this is a County subdivison issue, I know that the County does require notification.

    To me the issue is one of bait & swithc. Carma tells buyers, hey, the comercial development will be over yonder, and we’re going to hide the apartments in the holler; then it’s King’s X, that’s not the way it’s going to be.

  38. We are one step away from finalizing the purchase of an existing home in the Blanco Vista Subdivision. At least we were one step away. Now, we are two. If this “adjustment” passes the P & Z, will will withdraw our contract and unfortunately we will not become residents of Blanco Vista. We are too old to buy in an area that will immediately devalue because of multi-family residential expansion.

    We chose the area because of its ambiance and the investment the developer had placed in the community to set it up as a family oriented area. Our daughter and her family also own a home in Blanco Vista, and have made a large investment in it. They had planned to raise their three children there…..

    Having owned several small businesses in the past, we can understand why Carma might be wanting to improve its bottom line. Unfortunately, it would be at the expense of the 102 current homeowners of Blanco Vista.

  39. And we wonder why homebuyers and companies are reluctant to invest in San Marcos.

    Business as usual at City Hall.

  40. I am one of the newest residents at Blanco Vista. I will certainly feel mislead by the developer and salespeople if the changes are allowed to take place. We made a decision to move to San Marcos and Blanco Vista because of the design and appeal of the Blanco Vista community plans. I commuted over 30 miles one way to San Marcos daily for nearly a decade and finally thought my family had found a great place to live. I will definitely be at the meeting tomorrow night at 6:30 at Blanco Vista Elementary with my neighbors. If any of the people that can decide in our city government are tapping into this thread, PLEASE listen to our voices.

  41. Show of hands: All who believe either Carma, LTD or their front men will be around long enough to see even a major portion built out, whether the “adjustments” get a rubber stamp or not. Same, only MUCH more so, with Paso Rubles. They appeal to the best and the worst instincts in the community for one reason: They plan to leave here with a whole bunch more money than they have to invest. And the quicker the turnaround, the better. Having more than one at a time in the same place just means they have found a “honey-hole” in the midst of economic devastation and a wild rate of foreclosures and decreased values. Including right here in Hays County. The margin is upheld by the complicity of local government, not by the law of supply and demand.

  42. Mayor and council please vote yes for annexation. Paso Robles is great for this community and us active adults

  43. We purchased a home in Blanco Vista May 28, 2010 – just a few months ago. As part of the sales promotion, we were presented with Blanco Vista’s “master planned community”. We were impressed with the plan as meeting the needs of our family, and paid good money to live in a community of this quality. We could have purchased a home a couple of miles north of Blanco Vista, with the same house plan & builder, and saved over $10,000 in home costs, but decided to invest in the better, “planned” community here in Blanco Vista!
    I regret that Carma miscalculated, and the housing market bottomed out, making their investment less than profitable. But, with their years of experience in these type of developments, they KNEW better than the average home owner just how long these communities take to build out.
    Are “master plans” non-binding, to be changed at a whim by the land owner to increase his profits “after” so many bought into their original plan? Of course, increasing multifamily dwellings (to 900 units) and increasing town homes from 70 to “unlimited” – to be mixed in with our single family units will have a major negative impact on our infrastructure and the property values of our homes, not to mention our quality of life.
    This was the 200 lb monkey in the room at the last P&Z meeting. There was a brief concern for infrastructure being stressed by the propsed plan and that the 102 residents already living in the community needed to be notified of the new changes. As of today, we have not been notified (nor personnally know of anyone else who has been notified) by Carma of the proposed change in the “master plan”.
    Does this reek of an attempt to hurry and pass the new plan before anyone in the community can have a chance to respond? Someone on the P&Z suggested having another meeting in 30 day to allow time for studies to be made on the impact of the new plan. Carma was only too quick to narrow that down to two weeks knowing that the quicker they push this idea through, the better to avoid as much controversy as possible by the home owners. I also did not witness anyone vigorously defending the rights of the current residents who already live in Blanco Vista. I am deeply saddened by this process and the lack of concern for “us” the homeowners in Blanco Vista. Does “big money” win again or do you do what is right by the Blanco Vista residents who have made their futures here. This is a sad day for justice for the ordinary man and a boon for the man of big money!
    We must make this right and I for one, who just discovered today the trashing of the original master plan, will do all in my power to bring to light the terrible injustice being perpretrated here and I would solicit the help of all the wonderful residents of Blanco Vista to stand up and be counted and not resign ourselves to defeat. We have right on our side! Time is short and we must act now. The plan will be voted on by the P&Z Committee at their next meeting on 9/28/2010 where the final decision will be made by the commission to change the master plan. It is incumbant of each of us to share our opinions of these changes. We are a small group and we need to all be respresented.
    Thank you for your help as it pertains to the very quality of our community!

    John & Rebecca Aultman
    114 Fence Line Drive
    San Marcos, Texas
    aultman31@live.com

  44. Thank you to the nearly 100 Citizens of Blanco Vista for coming out to the community meeting concerning this concept plat change. It was a great show of community that is growing out there in Blanco Vista and I will take the concerns you shared with me to the other Commissioners of the Planning and Zoning Board.

  45. Bait & switch, deceptive trade practices, misrepresentation, not a good picture of Carma at present, people on the street are saying. Residents definitely need to show up in force at the P&Z meeting. And communicate ahead of time with the P&Z Commissioners, to the extent possible.

  46. My neighborhood is adjacent to the Buie tract, which is at Bishop and Franklin/ Craddock. Part of the Buie tract was rezoned this year by the Planning and Zoning Commission and by city council for 450+ apartments and mixed use despite the protests of hundreds of neighbors.

    The San Marcos “Horizons Master Plan” had designated the Buie tract for very low density residential in 1996.
    It is over the aquifer. It is surrounded on 3 sides by single family homes.

    Due north this tract is bounded by a neighborhood that is more than 50 years old. On the east the neighborhood is more than 25 years old. On the northwest the neighborhood is also more than 25 years old. There are literally hundreds of homes within blocks of this tract.

    Planning theory states that incompatible uses, and I would consider apartments and businesses incompatible with established neighborhoods, should have a buffer between them. Our only buffer is a strip of pavement.

    I commend Mr. Seebeck and Mr. Prather for being concerned about the 102 homes in Blanco Vista that are newly built.

    However, both Mr. Seebeck and Mr. Prather exhibited no concern at all for our neighborhoods close to the Buie tract. They both voted AGAINST our neighborhoods repeatedly.

    P&Z has 9 members. The votes on the Buie tract every time were 8-1 or 7-2 against us, in other words, 8-1 or 7-2 to rezone to apartments.

    We attended a number of P&Z meetings and city council meetings over a period of six months when the Buie tract was on the agenda. We implored both P&Z and city council not to rezone this property.

    There was no reason to rezone it. San Marcos has plenty of vacant land already zoned for apartments and businesses. Not to mention the nearly 100 apartment complexes that are already built. Many of these complexes are running “move in specials.” I wonder what their occupancy rate is.

    Mr. Seebeck and Mr. Prather were deaf to our pleas.

    So was Ms. Kim Porterfield on city council. She is running for reelection with the slogan “One San Marcos.” Perhaps that slogan means that San Marcos should be one giant apartment complex.

    Mr. Prather is running for city council now. That may explain his interest in the Blanco Vista neighborhood; he wants your vote.

    Do not be fooled. He has voted against neighborhoods consistently. If he is elected to city council, he will probably do as he has done before and vote against neighborhoods.

    I do not wish to nitpick, but Mr. Prather used the phrase “Planning and Zoning Board.” Its name is actually “Planning and Zoning Commission.” He’s been on P&Z long enough to know that.

    As my dad told me, “The way you do small things is the way you do all things.”

    Ironically the last part of the Buie tract is on the agenda for rezoning on Sept. 28. It is currently zoned Single Family 6. The owner wants to rezone it to Mixed Use.

    Perhaps P&Z will have mercy on a new neighborhood, Blanco Vista. They certainly have not cared about old neighborhoods. Nor has the current majority on city council; that is Mayor Narvaiz and the folks who vote with her.

    Blanco Vista residents – you may make an open records request for all the information related to the request to change the concept plan. To do that, send an email to DHeller@sanmarcostx.gov Write “open records request” in the subject line and again in the text and describe what you want. Under state law they have 10 business days to respond. They might rush that since this is coming up at P&Z next week.

    Also, you would help yourself later if you make 2 copies for your files of any petitions or other material that you turn in to the city.

    If you are collecting signatures on a petition, you might consider collecting email addresses and cell phone numbers of all your residents.

    As I said at city council, “If you put new apartments next to old neighborhoods, you are telling people to buy a house in Kyle or New Braunfels. You are telling them that their investment in a home in San Marcos will not be protected.”

    If the city puts new apartments next to a new neighborhood, the city is also telling people to buy a house in Kyle or New Braunfels. The city will not protect their new neighborhoods either.

    Blanco Vista residents – I wish you the best on Tuesday.

  47. The agenda for the P&Z meeting on Sept. 28 will probably be posted online today or tomorrow.

  48. The agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 28 is posted on the city website.

    Blanco Vista is number 8, and this is not a public hearing.

    That means that folks interested in Blanco Vista have to talk in the public comment period, number 5 on the agenda.

    The good news is that they can just get up and talk; they do not have to sign up ahead of time.

  49. Camille, you are a good person for looking out for your neighbors. It’s too bad that most of our P&Z Commissioners and Councilmembers don’t understand that simple and decent concept.

  50. I plan to be there Tuesday to support the Blanco Vista homeowners.
    The Council and P&Z lost my support after the Buie Tract fiasco. “San Marcos Forward” my a$$.

  51. Hugh, you know that the Buie guys will be at P&Z as well tomorrow night. They are asking for a zoning change on the 2+ acres they “removed” from their plan the last time to negate the petition that was signed by the neighbors who live within 200 feet of the development. If they had not removed this portion of the development, they would have been subject to the “super-majority rule” on City Council for approval. They are now asking for Mixed Use on the 2 acres they previously said they wouldn’t develop…
    See you tomorrow night!

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