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January 31st, 2011
Development proposal spans Weatherford, Gilcrease tracts

013111pzBy SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

An old conflict has resumed over the fate of the Weatherford and Gilcrease tracts in northwest San Marcos, at the gateway to the Hill Country.

A 195-unit, 782-bedroom student housing development is proposed for construction on the 48.36 acres comprising the two aforementioned tracts, and many nearby neighbors appear to be up in arms about it.

On Jan. 25, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission held a public hearing on the proposed development, known as the Retreat at San Marcos. The hearing was very well-attended — the meeting room and foyer were full of people, most of whom appeared to be opposed to the development.

City staff recommended that P&Z commissioners disapprove current plans for the development. Staff said the proposal conflicts with the city’s Sector 2 plan, though the developers’ consultant, Ed Theriot, came to the opposite conclusion. City staff agreed with the developer that the Retreat at San Marcos would involve low housing unit density, though staffers said the area is intended primarily for single family residential development, not multi-family.

The Retreat at San Marcos includes 41 acres of multi-family residential units, 2.75 acres of commercial uses, and a 4.5-acre disc golf course. City staff said the commercial area proposed for the project is too small, smaller than the 10 acres recommended by the Sector 2 plan.

Of the 15 members of the public who spoke during the hearing, 12 people urged P&Z to not recommend approval of the development. The P&Z may decide on a recommendation to the city council on Feb. 8.

Those opposed to the project generally say they like the concept of it, just not the location. Those opposed to the Retreat at San Marcos said it conflicts with city plans for the area and would disrupt nearby single family neighborhoods with too much traffic, noise, and other disturbances popularly associated with masses of college students. Those opposed to the project expressed concerns about lowered property values and quality of life for nearby homeowners.

Those in favor of the development said the Retreat at San Marcos is a quality development the city needs, and it would not devalue surrounding property values. In a letter to the city dated Jan. 17, Weatherford tract owner Jack Weatherford said unreasonable neighbors have for more than 10 years prevented him and others from developing the land. Those in favor of the Retreat at San Marcos point out that the developer has met with concerned residents on four occasions, and has altered the project in several ways to accommodate their concerns.

According to city staff, the proposed student housing project includes 105 single-family cottages, 25 two-unit duplex cottages, four fourplex cottages, 821 parking spaces, and a quarter-acre amenity package with a clubhouse, tennis court, pool, and basketball court.

The four individuals who seek to buy, develop, and manage the property are member-managers of Retreat Holdings, LLC, based in Athens, GA. If the city grants the requested entitlements to the property, Retreat Holdings proposes to buy the property from Weatherford and remain the owner and manager of the Retreat at San Marcos.

Retreat Holdings member-manager Russ Crump said he and his colleagues have built nine similar projects nationwide.

Retreat Holdings seeks a planned development district (PDD) overlay for the project, which involves more collaboration with the city than a regular development agreement. City Planner John Foreman told P&Z commissioners that the developers are going above and beyond what is required by city codes in areas related to parkland dedication, parking, water quality protection, and exterior design standards.

Among the 15 people who spoke during last week’s public hearing, Crump and former city council candidate Anita Fuller expressed support for the project. Another person read two letters in favor of the project.

City staff reported receiving three letters opposed to the Retreat at San Marcos, and a letter from Weatherford in favor of the project. City staff said they received six phone calls from people opposed to the project, and one phone call from someone who requested more information. The city received another phone call from someone staff described as “very concerned” about the project.

Construction of the Retreat at San Marcos depends on the city council’s approval of various land use change requests, and its approval of the development agreement. If most P&Z commissioners vote against the PDD and related requests, a super-majority vote of councilmembers would be required to approve the project.

P&Z Commissioner Bucky Couch expressed skepticism about the safety of a proposed entrance to the development off of RR 12. P&Z Commissioner Randy Bryan asked proponents of the project to more clearly explain how it would not harm nearby residents. Representatives of Retreat Holdings said they will work with city staff and neighbors to further modify their proposal.

P&Z commissioners are expected to vote on the matter at their Feb. 8 meeting.

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71 thoughts on “Development proposal spans Weatherford, Gilcrease tracts

  1. Of those speaking in favor we have the owner, a proposed owner/developer, and their shill. I’m shocked. As for Mr Weatherford’s contact with the neighbors, once every 30 months, on average. What a guy.

    Let them develop it within the confines of the existing plan. Or are variances the rule rather than the exception?

  2. It must have been frustrating for Mr. Weatherford to watch P&Z and City Council manipulate (rewrite?) the Horizon Plan and approve the controversial Buie Tract development.

  3. Why can’t the city stick to its master plan and zoning? People purchased homes in neighborhoods surrounding this property with the knowledge and security that the area IS zoned Single Family, including the Weatherford property. Now at the potential swipe of a pen stroke due to wishy-washy politicians and money hungry developers, these homeowners will loose the sense of neighborhood that they purchased into.

    Surrounding properties WILL go down in value. Imagine driving into a neighborhood looking to buy a home and seeing this huge student housing complex right at the entrance of your potential new home… you would turn around and look elsewhere. That is a real problem homeowners will have when it comes time to sell. This project has no positive attributes for the long term, tax paying homeowners surrounding the proposed project.

    I am curious how the developers will put a positive spin on P&Z Commissioner Randy Bryan’s question on how it would not harm nearby residents.

  4. Hey I have a great idea… put “The Retreat at San Marcos” in the Stone Creek Crossing location. It will utilize the defunct property. It is close to campus. It is a convenient location for students since it’s near shopping and the highway. There are no single family neighborhoods to ruin.

  5. ooops, I said Stone Creek when I ACTUALLY meant SPRINGTOWN. I just got caught up in that article and mixexed up my locations.

  6. Rather than simply approve or disapprove this and similar developments, based on the composition of P&Z on any given day, I’d like to see more thought put into how to make these work. Not just how to keep them from hurting the neighborhoods, but how can they be developed in a way that benefits the neighborhoods? It is good that folks on P&Z are asking these sorts of questions, but I’d love to see them providing more guidance re: what would be a compatible development – how parking and traffic are addressed, adequate buffers, whatever.

    Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the problem is not the students. There are plenty of students in single-family homes (and even in apartments) who never cause a problem for anyone, and there are plenty of drunk, noisy non-students. The problem is that apartments and large rental communities are not compatible with single-family neighborhoods.

  7. @ Jake. No I don’t like the idea of The Retreat At San Marcos in my immediate area. I suppose you don’t live in this area? I’m not against the student population I would just assume multiple student population not be in my single family neighborhood. I totally agree with Ted ” The problem is that apartments and large rental communities are not compatible with single-family neighborhoods.” Yes there are respectable students whom reside in single family homes, and that is another problem all together; single family homes, that house more than R1 restrictions allow. Besides all the construction that is going on in Rio Vista have you Jake driven down Haynes St. prior to this? Council should bring back to the table the idea of landlords being held responsible for their renters. Thomides had it right and council for whatever reason voted against it. I think Bose may have been the only one who was in favor. I’m all for the Alamo Draft House at Springtown Mall. Restaurants and other retailers have a great opportunity to lease at a great rate right now. Parking and lighting all the infrastructure is there. I see no need for ” Constructive destruction” at Springtown Mall.

  8. What gets me is the description of the structures. These are basically apartment mansions that will look and function like single family homes at a density that is less than would occur with a single family neighborhood, resulting in more buffering and greenspace within and surrounding the neighborhood. I get a little annoyed when I see “the usual suspects” getting up-in-arms over development when they live anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 mile away. Lord knows I agree with them probably 8 times out of 10 when it comes to discussions about planning in this city, but I want to hear from those people that actually own homes adjacent to this project. What do they have to say? And I want to hear from them since they are the ones actually affected, not Ms. Phillips or Ms. Bilson. While I certainly admire them for their interest in the city, creating this much noise makes it difficult for the Commission to pick-out the voices of the people that actually live next door and certainly discourages them from speaking up for themselves, whether they support the project or not.

    Let’s play out this scenario… the developer builds every house as a single family home on its own lot. You still get the same number of people (perhaps more). But rather than selling them, the developer maintains ownership and leases out each house individually. Or worse yet, they sell the homes as investment properties, which are then snatched up by absentee landlords and you end up with fragmented ownership with the same net result. Under this proposal to P&Z, a single company maintains ownership and handles property management, which provides better opportunity to control issues than you have currently with single-family home landlords.

    I would love for Newstreamz to do a records request to the planning department for the concept plan and related information, and then post it to the website. The version of the site plan I saw about a month ago included 150′-200′ wide tree preservation buffers against LaRue, and a park adjacent to the other single-family area. The visual appearance of the structures looked like 1 and 2 story single-family homes with on-street parking in front within a gated community. There were no internal connections to existing neighborhoods, and the trees/vegetation are so thick that I doubt the adjacent neighborhoods will even be able to see anything from their backyards.

    I looked up the Sector 2 Plan on the City’s website. It lists a commercial corner, surrounded by a ring of medium density housing, with the remainder being low-density residential. The two-unit duplex cottages and four-unit fourplex cottages are placed in the area identified on the map as medium density residential, while the single-family cottages are placed in the area identified as low-density residential. In form, use and appearance it looks pretty consistent to me. The only real difference is that these are being maintained under single property ownership as rental units rather than doing separate lots or condo arrangements. I don’t think this is a land use issue so much as an anti-renter/anit-student issue. Also, it calls for only two access points to the development, which align with the proposal presented. The plan calls for 3 acres of parks & open space, while the project provides about five acres of parkland without even considering the tree preservation buffers. In addition, the concept plan provides the 50′ natural area landscape setbacks along Craddock and RR12, which was suggested in the Sector 2 Plan. This whole project has very low impervious cover and good water quality management, which is certainly positive as you approach the recharge zone and contributing zone. Keep in mind that these are efforts that if the property was being done as a traditional single-family neighborhood, then the city could not require any of these items except for the road alignment and minimum parkland dedication.

    I feel like I’m defending the project, when that really isn’t my intention. It just seems like it is getting a worse rap than it deserves. Personally, I’d love to see development of a walkable community retail area with 1-2 upper floors of office and residential, with a ring of attached townhouses/condos followed by open space and small-lot/zero-lot line single family homes; I think that would be a real asset to the northwest side of town. However, developers are not warming-up to these kinds of projects outside of Austin (and even there the financing is difficult) and they are difficult to get city-approved and financed in most places. I’m honestly a bit surprised that this proposed project, with the low-density, is able to cashflow enough to get financing.

    It is not a perfect project and may not even be a ‘good’ project–that is for the Commission to decide–but it seems like the other side of the story is missing here. While it may not be 100% consistent with the Sector 2 Plan, it certainly appears the existing zoning isn’t either. The report makes it sound like the project is 0% compliant with the Sector 2 Plan without considering the aspects that are present. I don’t care how the vote goes, but there needs to be a fair discussion including how the project does comply with the Sector 2 Plan along with how it doesn’t.

  9. Once again, I’d like to ask – who is going to live in all of these new apartments? There are two huuuuuuge complexes going in – the Buie tract and the corner of Hunter and Wonder World. When I look online or in the newspaper or call an apartment manager – no complex is full. As the council takes surveys and asks citizens about what they want – why don’t they listen? We need good quality single-family neighborhoods in a city that cares about quality of life. I don’t even live adjacent to any of these complexes, but I know I that San Marcos doesn’t need more multi-family housing.

  10. @Eddie Q. Oh I do live in the area, exactly 5 houses down from were the entrance is going to be on Ramona. I purchased this house for the quaint, quiet neighborhood with similar homes like the one I purchased surrounding it. It doesn’t really matter who lives in these apartments… oh excuse me “cottages”, the property will eventually run its course, get run down and the developers will sell. That’s development 101; get out before maintenance becomes a money pit. Then what happens? We have a deteriorated, ugly apartment complex sitting in our neighborhood. Great.

    Have ANY of you taken the time to look at the developers other properties? No I do not mean their websites… of course they will be beautiful with lots of happy, smiling students playing Frisbee. I mean look at Google maps, go to satellite view and see what surrounds the other 9 developments… I’ll tell you what is NOT there, single family homes. In most cases there are empty fields, woods, or other apartments. NOW go to street view in Google maps and really see how “nice” these places look after a few years. There is trash on the street, overflowing dumpsters, run-down home fronts in the older communities in Athens GA… it looks disgusting. If you want this in your neighborhood you have a screw loose.

    Just don’t be ignorant and go “with the flow” people, care about your city, neighborhood, property value, and quality of life. Seriously.

  11. Jake, if the problems are that bad and that visible, I would suggest printing out the street view shots and handing them out at Council and P&Z meetings, and perhaps forwarding them to this site. I wouldn’t count on people going and looking for themselves. They might, but if I were as passionate about this as you, I would not put all of my eggs in that basket. I’d make sure people saw those images.

  12. @Craddock’s Corner: well put.

    @Mary: There is a definite demand for ‘high quality’ rental units in San Marcos. Not sure which complexes you were calling, maybe ones that are older or aren’t as nice.
    Some rent out of area (but want to be in San Marcos) due to better quality rental options.
    My rental units stay full year round. If you have a nice offering in San Marcos, it will stay full. There are simply too many transient (students/visitng faculty) residents that have need for this type of housing.

  13. I agree, mostly. My biggest issue is that we always seem to be in a position of the developer trying to convince P&Z that their plans will be compatible with the surroundings and neighbors trying to convince P&Z that the plans are not compatible. I’d really like to hear a stronger voice from P&Z re: what they believe will work. It should not be too difficult to survey neighbors living around existing developments, to find out what is and is not working and then formulate some sort of guidelines for future cases where developers want some sort of variance.

    Perhaps that is out there and I just don’t see it or hear about it. It sure seems like the message is “we’re having a public meeting, please come and tell us why this is a good or bad idea.”

    It seems like some of the biggest issues are noise, traffic, and overflow parking. Given those three items, it would not be unrealistic to solicit some outside expertise re: sound buffers (the city did this after the fact with Sagewood), revisit the requirements for parking spaces per bedroom and exceptions to these requirements, and maybe do a bit more homework re: traffic impact (too bad the Transportation Advisory Board was never given a clear charter – this would have been right up their alley).

    Also, there are some problem properties, commercial, multi-family and mixed-use, out there, which are pretty high profile. IMO, each time one of these ideas is presented, there are some people who have a somewhat understandable reaction that they do not want to be living on top of another Sagewood, Sanctuary Lofts, etc. Fix some of those, and the negative comparisons go away.

    Solicit the expertise of some of these developers. Ask them what they think went wrong in these developments, how they will avoid that, and what they would do to mitigate these problems, if they were stuck with those properties.

    Just a thought.

  14. Ted, I see you used Sagewood and Sanctuary Lofts in the same sentence. What is wrong with Sanctuary? Besides the color?

  15. I don’t believe the retail space has ever been filled. There have been problems with things like stuff thrown off the balconies into neighboring properties and they have been a big source of noise complaints.

  16. There are other problems at other properties. Those just come to mind immediately. What we are lacking, is examples people can point to and say “I want that next door.”

  17. I looked at the other properties as Jake has suggested via Google maps, satellite view and street view. I have to say that he is very correct that the other properties do not place themselves in the middle of single family neighborhoods. Why do that here? There is plenty of property available in San Marcos that is more remote and resembles the developer’s other complexes placement. I think the developer has a nice product, but the proposed placement in one of the few remaining San Marcos single family neighborhoods is all wrong.

    Also, what is up with the minuscule 200′ boundary around a new development as large as this one? P&Z must realize that something of this size effects folks way, way beyond that tiny border? Heck, 200′ barely reaches the other side of Craddock. I personally think that this “boundary rule” is in place to purposefully exclude important input from the whole community that is being impacted.

    Lastly, from what I understand the existing student complexes are not to capacity in this town. The future Buie Tract development will add yet more apartments. Just how many dwellings does San Marcos need for its students? I think over saturating the market with too many student housing units would be bad business and hurt the existing housing properties.

    To sum it up, if San Marcos really, really needs yet another student housing complex this would be a decent one as long as its placed in a remote location such as the other Retreat properties.

  18. Thank you very much Craddock’s Corner for the very educated and informational post. It’s refreshing to see that there is someone out there who can look at things objectively. I’m not saying that this development is the best possible development for this property, but it’s the best that this City has been presented with thus far and I think it goes above and beyond what would otherwise be allowed on the property. Let’s examine this development more closely.

    So all the neighbors want single-family residential on the 48 acres. If I look at the City’s zoning map correctly and understand the City’s Land Development Code correctly, the property is already zoned SF-6. This zoning category has a maximum density of 5.5 units per acre which would result in over 250 single family units on this 48 acres. Not to mention that those units would be able to be developed with absolutely NO input from the surrounding neighbors. All someone would have to do is plat the property and they could put their 250+ single family homes (average value $125,000 or less) on the property. How would those neighbors on Larue like to have over 250 units directly backing up to their properties? If I understand the documents provided in the P&Z’s packet materials (available on the City’s website) there is over 1200 feet adjacent to the lots on Larue. That’s a lovely 24 lots (50 feet wide) with houses 20 feet from the rear property line of the homes on Larue. I’m not sure but I think I’d rather have a 150+ foot natural buffer area than I would 24 lots with 2-story single family homes right behind me.

    It’s interesting that Ted would bring up Sagewood. The biggest problem with Sagewood is that all of the lots are owned by separate individuals with a majority owned by people who don’t even live in San Marcos. They’re managed by local real estate firms who only care about making sure the units stay occupied so they continue to make their money. They don’t maintain the property, they don’t manage the tenants and they don’t care about the neighborhood. They manage their money to make sure they theirs. Do we want the same thing to happen on this property? Take a look at the adjacent Weatherford Heights Subdivision. There are about 30 lots. If you go to the Hays County Appraisal District Website and look at the ownership information, 38% of the lots are owned by people whose owner mailing address isn’t in San Marcos. Some of them are California. Sounds like rental property to me. This project at least is proposing single ownership with cohesive, on-site management. Not to mention participation in the ACT program (talk to Lisa Dvorak for details on this program).

    This is the best development proposal made on this property in the past 15 years that Dr. Weatherford has been trying to develop this property. Why don’t we ask the property owners adjacent to the Holland Park Subdivision (at Holland & Meadow Parkway)? That subdivision was originally proposed as a high quality new-urbanism type development by Chris Carson. But the neighborhoods, including some of the same characters (Ms. Phillips, Ms. Bilson) came out and opposed this development (couldn’t imagine why…can someone say Carson). So Mr. Carson threw his hands up and told the City if you don’t want a new, higher quality development than what could be built here, I’ll build what you want. So he sold it to KB Homes and we now have around 55 lots, of which around 35% are owned by people whose owner mailing address is not within San Marcos. Why don’t we ask former Council Candidate Toby Hooper how many of his neighbors are college students renting these single family homes. He lives right in the middle of this subdivision. However, I digress. Why don’t we ask the surrounding neighbors what impact these $125,000 KB Homes have had on their neighborhood and their property values. Or better yet, why don’t we ask City staff why they are not enforcing the occupancy restrictions from the City’s Land Development Code? How many times did it come up during the P&Z meeting that people already had plenty of college students living in their neighborhood? Seems like this is already a problem.

    Maybe the developer should propose 10 acres of commercial instead of the 2.75 acres. How about putting a nice grocery store on the property that would serve the surrounding neighborhoods? Hold on…if I’m not mistaken, Dr. Weatherford tried this once before. I believe it was a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (the grocery portion of Wal-Mart only)…credit to Bob for remembering this!! Would be a great addition to the neighborhood, right?!?!? Except that Ms. Phillips and Ms. Bilson (and their associated lying, misleading, uninformed, bullying tactics) opposed that development as well. Hold on…they’ve opposed EVERY development on this property. Seems to be an underlying theme here…

    Perhaps we should go with what City staff would prefer at this location. Look at what got supported on the Buie tract. First floor retail/office with apartments/residential above. Ted…does this sound like Sanctuary Lofts all over again. City staff indicated that the proposed development did not meet the Sector 2 Plan. This is a pretty strict interpretation. The Sector 2 Plan calls for a 50 foot buffer along Craddock Avenue and Ranch Road 12. The property owner is providing this in the PDD but staff says the proposed development is “inconsistent” with the Sector Plan and recommends denial. The entire property is a lower density than what would be permitted under the current SF-6 zoning (and lower than the Sector Plan’s envisioned medium density residential) but staff indicated that the development is “inconsistent” with the Sector Plan and recommended denial. Staff is recommending denial of the amendment to Medium Density Residential even though the project is restricted to Low Density Residential through the PDD.

    Of course, if you really read the Staff Reports in the P&Z packet, Staff doesn’t have a clue what they are presenting. If you look at the zoning change staff reports one says that it is a zoning change from OP to MF-12 on 2.75 acres but then indicates that the current zoning is SF-6 and the proposed zoning is CC. Another staff report indicates a zoning change from SF-6 to CC on 39.4 acres but then indicates that the current zoning is SF-6 and the proposed zoning is MF-12. But then later, the PDD indicates a total of 41.11 acres of MF-12 zoning. So which one is it? This misinformation was further conveyed in the public hearing notices that were sent out to surrounding property owners which indicated 2.75 acres of MF-12 and 39.4 acres of CC. Perhaps staff should get a grasp of the actual development being proposed on the property before they make a recommendation as to how it may or may not meet the City’s master plan and/or Land Development Code. Seems like City staff is even working to make this more difficult on Dr. Weatherford.

    Again, I’m not sure that this is the “right” development for this property. But Mr. Bryan asked the developer to prove that this development would have “no negative impact” on the surrounding neighborhoods. This request is impossible to achieve. ANY development on this property will have SOME impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Based on what I can tell, the proposed development will be far better than what could currently be developed under the existing zoning. Perhaps it’s time this City stops listening to the same rhetoric about how bad the development of this property will be and how good it would be under the current City plans and starts looking at what could actually be developed on the property (without that neighborhood input) and what the developer is committing to developing. Let’s start basing our decisions on facts rather than emotions and rhetoric…

  19. I can explain the retail not filling in Sanctuary a bit, as I looked at it for a potential business location. They had no way to prevent occupants from using the on-street parking instead of the garage, even though the garage has over a floor and a half empty. As a result, customers would not have access to on-street parking for my business. During my visit, every space was taken by a resident of Sanctuary that for some reason preferred parking their car on a public street instead of in a secure, sheltered parking garage. Also, at least when I was looking into it, the retail spaces did not have 3-phase electrical, which is a deal-killer for a lot of the types of businesses that would find that location appealing. As for Ted’s other comments, it sure sounds like Sanctuary needs to find itself a new property manager. I knew they had problems a couple of years ago with items being thrown from the balconies and noise, but thought it had been corrected. It is worth noting that the proposed project is much different than Sanctuary and Sagewood. Sanctuary is extremely dense with no buffers separating it from neighboring residential properties, plus Sanctuary is five stories tall. In contrast, the Retreat is providing wide buffers and parkland, with a mixture of 1-2 story structures designed visually to mimick large single-family homes. Sagewood is a bunch of duplex properties, each separately owned by a variety of absentee landlords. The Retreat, on the other hand, is managed by a single landlord. Also, The Retreat appears to be less dense than Sagewood. Honestly, The Retreat is the first multifamily project I’ve seen in San Marcos that makes any kind of legitimate attempt to reduce its impact on adjacent residential properties.

  20. Craddock’s Corner, you are correct that they are very different and does appear to be an attempt to come up with something compatible. I just believe it would be an easier sell, if there were some success stories to point to. It would also help P&Z to better understand whether future developments would work. For example, the large buffers are great, but will they be large enough? Does it matter what kind of vegetation is in there? Should there be a wall of some sort? What does a suitable buffer look like?

    I am not sure why people would not use the garage, either, but it seems like cutting back on parking requirements and then having overflow parking problems is a recurring theme. In fact, there is overflow parking all over Craddock and LBJ, from the apartments down there. The problem is further exacerbated, as neighborhood streets becoming ad-hoc commuter parking lots, when students (wisely, IMO) deal with the parking problems on campus, by parking on the street, near the bus stops.

    The 3-phase electrical is a new one to me, and I am not sure what the city could do there, other than to advise future developers that this had been a problem in the past. Overall, though, the problems tend to be the same, across the various properties. IMO, that’s a good thing, because we ought to be able to anticipate and mitigate those problems. If every development had a completely different set of problems, it would be much harder to attack.

    I’d really, *really*, like to see a post-mortem on some of these projects, just to see what could be done differently in the future. I think that would go a long way toward enforcing regulations that make sense, eliminating regulations that don’t make sense, and getting some good development in San Marcos.

  21. Absentee landlords. I must have read those words quite a few times here. Again council should bring back to the table the idea of “absentee landlords” being responsible for their renters. I think it was a yearly or one time fee to have the property made listed and available and if the renters trashed the property or too many violations were cited to the property “absentee lanlords” are fined could not rent said property for a set amount of time and would be required to clean and bring the property up to code. I realy hope Mr. Guerrero is reading these threads.? Oh and Craddock’s corner thanks for the info about Sanctuary Lofts. What a mess. I guess parking enforcement or TX ST can’t make students use the semi-useless garage.

  22. I would like to answer Weatherford’s due, person to person, but of course they chose to use anything but their own name. I was never involved with the KB Home’s, but I do agree if the city will enforce their SF6 Zoning the neighborhoods might have a chance. It would be nice if the City abided by their current zoning & the Sector Plans & the Horizon Master Plan rather then continually seeking outside Planners & paying enormous fees to come up with Zoning plans like the SMART Code, & then ignoring those plans to do whatever a developer wants. You buy your house based on what realitor tell you about the location, & we were assured that the SF6 protected our most valuable asset, our home. I also worked with City Council to create a zoning Marshall, & to try to get Leasing agents & leassors to have to register their rentals & be held responsible for their tenants abiding by the law. I have only talked againest Wallmart, Buie Tract, The Retreat, & putting the Convention Center at the headwaters of Spring Lake. I am proud as a citizen to have responded to the threats presented by these developements. And guess what, I was not ashamed to do it under my own name, which is more then I can say for Weatherford’s dues.

  23. Ahhhh…Mr. Haney. You sir, have finally hit a home run!! I’d like to see the City do a financial analysis on what it would cost to float the bond and purchase the property. How much would this add to the City’s property tax rate? And is it really the City’s responsibility to incur debt that will be paid back by ALL of the citizens of the City of San Marcos to protect the interest of a specific neighborhood? What would the other citizens of San Marcos say to having their property tax increased to protect these neighborhoods?

    Or here’s a grand idea, if these neighbors really care about “protecting their property values” why don’t they pool their money and purchase the property (at fair market value and not their perceived value) and then donate it to the City as a park. Or better yet, they can maintain ownership and maintain it themselves at no additional costs to the City.

    As for Ms. Bilson’s comments, you ma’am, along with Ms. Phillips have opposed EVERY development that has ever been proposed on this property. Not only did you oppose the Wal-Mart, you opposed the driving range that was proposed on this property. You opposed other multifamily developments. You have been before the P&Z and City Council to speak in opposition of EVERY project ever proposed on this property. We all know your position. I’d be interested to hear from the actual residents that abut this property and see what they say. What does Joe Schneider think of this proposed development? He also opposed all of the other developments. What does Peggy Mahelic (sp?) think of this project? She has always opposed the development of Dr. Weatherford’s property. What about representatives from the Seventh Day Adventist Church or Dr. Swart (who, though is retired, still proudly has his sign on Ranch Road 12)? All of these people actually own property directly adjacent to Dr. Weatherford’s tract and will be the ones that will be most impacted.

    So far it just seems like it’s the CONA representatives, the self-appointed authorities on neighborhood representation (who have no actual authority and aren’t even a recognized organization by the City), and the people they are able to convince with their deception and lies.

    I obtained a copy of the letter being circulated in the neighborhood that says the development will have “more college students or low income people” and “Drunk college students will be driving all around our neighborhoods.” So basically, the project is going to have a bunch of poor drunk people. That’s a great representation of our beloved college students. We don’t necessarily have to like the college students but rather than working against all of them, why not try to work with them. I certainly enjoy the month of December when they are gone and I really enjoy this City from June – September, but I’m also a realist. They’re a part of our community and we should embrace them. Let’s think hypothetically for a minute. If the University went away and took all of the college students with it, who would we have to work the minimum wage jobs in the Outlet Mall? And without the Outlet Mall, where would we get our sales tax revenue? And without our sales tax revenue, what would our property tax rate be? Let’s face it folks, we need them as much as they need us. And I think our lives would be much worse off if we didn’t have them.

    And Ms. Bilson, the SMART code was the product of your current Planning Director, Mr. Lewis. That is what he wants to put over the entire City. Smart Growth and Form Based Codes. (Research his past history in the City of Hutto where he was before he was run off and shipped to our City). Look at the mixed use first floor retail second floor residential in the Buie Tract. Really? This didn’t work with Sanctuary Lofts, why would it work at Craddock and Bishop. And don’t even get me started on the amount of traffic that is generated by this type of development. But this was done to please Mr. Lewis and get his recommendation for approval on the Buie Tract project. So let’s go ahead and let City staff determine what is appropriate rather than letting the market establish that. Staff’s got a great recent history. What about that economic incentive loan the City paid the developers of Stonecreek? That’s worked out well…the property is foreclosure/bankruptcy. Or how about providing incentives for an apartment complex off Comanche? That’s a great use of tax payer dollars. But we definitely wouldn’t want to use incentives to redevelop Springtown Mall which is sitting as a vacant eyesore at the entry of the City (that was ironically abandoned by all of the tenants that are now in Stonecreek…which, again, is in foreclosure/bankruptcy).

    So what is the solution for this project? It’s a great project but it needs to go to another location (Not In My Back Yard – NIMBY) to some undeveloped area like all of the developer’s other projects. Let’s move it to some vacant piece of property on the outskirts of town. Maybe we should create another area like Aquarena Springs east of IH 35. Move all the apartments to some location far away from campus so that the students have no alternative but to drive. Have you tried going down Aquarena anytime lately? I remember the days when you’d be able to get from Sessoms to IH 35 in just a couple of minutes. Now you need to plan 30 minutes ahead to deal with student commuter traffic and buses. Yeah…let’s do that all over again out some other major thoroughfare that is the primary access to the City. That’s genius!!!

    I agree, this may not be the best location. But it’s the last good in-fill parcel of its size left in the City, and especially in this part of the City. It’s easily within walking distance of campus, there’s already a bus route that goes out to the other apartments out Ranch Road 12 (which, OBTW, are very nice and highly maintained) and would be easily accessible to the student residents. But that’s no good. We should develop this with single family residential. How many hundreds (if not thousands) of single family lots are already planned within other existing entitled subdivisions within the city? None of which are developing very quickly. Why would this property be any different? It’d be college rental property just under the guise of “single family residential”. Just like every other single family neighborhood recently developed in the City.

  24. I don’t believe CONA circulated any letter about this development. In fact, would be shocked to learn that CONA had anything to do with the letter in question. That there are CONA members opposed to this development doesn’t mean that CONA has a position, one way or another.

  25. In fact, one of the supporters of the project is a CONA representative, at least she was the last time I checked.

  26. No one ever wants a grocery store near him. But that area needs a grocery store and the intersection if RR12 and Craddock offers a pretty convenient location for one.

    A smaller-scale, groceries-only Wal-Mart, which was proposed but rejected, just might have been a very useful addition to the area. It would help relieve traffic through the middle of town, since you have thousands of people driving every day to the big HEB or the Wal-Mart east of I-35.

  27. In every town, you have a few bitter old people who fight tooth and nail against any sort of development that might be proposed anywhere in “their area”. These people were naive – or dumb – enough to actually believe that the empty lot down the street would always be an empty lot and will fight tooth and nail to make sure it stays so.

    In San Marcos, the “boogeyman” seems to be college students. But remember, San Marcos without the University is….well, Lockhart. Say “no” to every development that comes along, and you end up more like Luling. But I guess that’s fine with some as long as they still have an empty lot down the street from THEIR house.

  28. I don’t think Ms. Bilson or the neighborhood is against development, we just need the RIGHT kind of development and not some half-assed, shoddily built apartments… oh excuse me again “cottages” that will deteriorate into dumps within 6-10 years and be sold.

    @Weatherford’s Due. Your diatribes and tirades are obviously written by the developer since you don’t disclose your name… so your opinions mean nothing. You don’t even live in San Marcos and just want to line your pockets with our money.

    @Dano. I wouldn’t call the long term taxpayers bitter old people, they just might actually CARE about the city and community and would hate to see it go downhill by some stupid decisions by a few ignorantly blind people.

    Look at the facts and don’t be lazy, look for yourselves at the other developments via Google satellite and Street View… they are NOT what they appear to be in their glossy, hype filled websites.

    The city gave away 6 million to Stone Creek, it would have been better spent by purchasing this property and making it a park as Mr. Haney suggested.

  29. It seems the developers are paying blog posters now. When did Bilson and Phillips lie as accused? Give us a specific. I think you confuse disagreement with your viewpoint as a lie. I know plenty of people in those neighborhoods who are thankful to have Bilson and Phillips notifying them of meetings and issues. They appreciate someone keeping up and letting them know. Wasn’t it Bilson and Phillips who requested the city buy Weatherford out for a park?

    The council held a joint meeting with the P&Z this week. Anybody attend? Ted, I would bet there wasn’t any discussion about whats the BEST kind of development. The P&Z is a mirror of your council. Elect a 100% pro development council person or Mayor and thats the type of planning commissioner you will get. My experience tells me that ‘how does the city make it easier for developers” would be the most likely topic of discussion at this meeting.

  30. I will be happy to send a copy of the letter we delivered to our respective neighbors to anyone who wants it. There are no scare tactics, simply an invitation to learn more information that might effect the homeowners. No one has used their titles or set themselves up as representing anyone but themselves as a citizen with the right of free speech to talk to their elected officials & their Planning Commissioners & the people who are suppose to be representing them. I firmly believe that as a city we can come up with a better solution then either a WalMart or 782 plus college students in the middle of 3 neighborhoods. I have nothing againest the students. I have worked with & talked to a lot of our student neighbors, & I have been involved in the ACT Program. No one can police themselves better then the students themselves, & most agree there are seperate lifestyles that must be appreciated in this City. It is a way of living that is called single family homes. It is the mature homeowner, the young family, & 2 students living in a home. There is multifamily 12 that allows for a whole lot more in one home. They all have their place & it should not be in each others backyards.

  31. “I wouldn’t call the long term taxpayers bitter old people, they just might actually CARE about the city and community and would hate to see it go downhill by some stupid decisions by a few ignorantly blind people.” – Jake

    I don’t doubt that they care for the City. But it’s THEIR myopic, self-centered view of what the City should be that they care about, and nothing else. The usual suspects rise up every time development is proposed on that land, and they shout it down. So instead of having something on that space that would actually benefit the community, it sits empty – and thanks to the NIMBY crowd, people out 12 still have to drive all the way in to town to buy groceries.

    You want to call development a stupid decision? Fine. But you have to understand that San Marcos is not and will never again be a “quiet little town” anymore. The train has left the station and you can be on it or under it. The zero-growth crowd loves to claim that they’re “not against growth” but then they oppose every proposed development that comes along. Can you honestly say that of all the proposals for developing the Weatherford tract, NONE of them would have benefited San Marcos? I don’t think you can.

  32. Weatherford’s Due:
    This is a quote from you: “So far it just seems like it’s the CONA representatives, the self-appointed authorities on neighborhood representation (who have no actual authority and aren’t even a recognized organization by the City), and the people they are able to convince with their deception and lies.”

    You make a broad statement about “deception and lies” without citing any specific evidence. We await your evidence.

    In the meantime, you please get your facts straight.

    I had nothing to do with the KB homes off of Holland Street.
    I did not appear before P&Z or any other group about the KB homes.

    I did not oppose the golf driving range on the land at the southeast corner of Old RR 12 and Craddock.
    My neighborhood did not oppose the golf driving range on this land.

    Mr. Lewis of the city planning department appears to support a form based code.
    The city did hire a consulting firm named Placemakers, and they gave presentations and led workshops here in SM on a form based code last year.

    At this point, the proposed development at the southeast corner of Old RR 12 and Craddock is an issue for the neighborhoods surrounding it, not an issue for the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA).

    This issue could be taken up at a CONA meeting.

    To quote someone, you are entitled to your own set of opinions, but you are NOT entitled to your own set of facts.

    Below is part of the P&Z agenda for Feb. 8. A postponement for the hearing for The Retreat has been requested. The agenda items for The Retreat are numbers 11-20. Anyone who would like to see the complete agenda can go to the city’s website, then go to the department of Planning and Development Services, and then look for P&Z videos and agendas.

    11. LUA-10-15. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request for postponement by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Low Density Residential (LDR) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for two tracts of land located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    12. LUA-10-16. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request for postponement by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Commercial (C) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for a 1.71 acre tract of land located in the 1500 Block of Old Ranch Road 12.

  33. @ Jake – You assume I work for the developer simply because I don’t disclose my name. I’m not the only one posting under an anonymous name. How about Craddock’s Corner or Voter or Gman or Winchester?

    Or perhaps it is because I actually support development in our fine City, and especially on this property. That must be the problem. I support development so I must be the developer or be getting paid by the developer. It couldn’t be that I have my own opinion and it happens to differ from the majority that post on this site.

    I’ve looked at the other websites for this developer ( and looked up the satellite views. It appears that The Retreat Alabama backs up to an existing neighborhood. Of course, the houses that are on Green Grove Lane adjacent to this project have nice tree buffer between them and The Retreat project. At The Retreat Columbia, there is an existing single family neighborhood at one of the entrances to the project off of Barnes Street. The Retreat and The Retreat 2 in Athens appear to be in a neighborhood full of multifamily mixed in with single family residential along Conrad Drive, Northcrest Drive, and Northside Drive. The Station at Milledge in Athens, GA, appears to back up to a single family residential neighborhood off Davis Estates Road. Yes, there are several of their developments that are located in what appears to be largely vacant areas, but there are also several developments located near single family residential. It’s just all about how you choose to present it.

    @ Sherri Bilson – If you’re so involved in ACT, then you must understand the impact that it has had. Ms. Dvorak spoke of this at the last P&Z meeting. If you’re going to get students (which you will get regardless), why not get students in a controlled environment in a development that is willing to participate in the ACT program and not students living in an uncontrolled single family residential neighborhood.

    @ Camille S. Phillips, I apologize if I have misrepresented your opposition of development on this property. I just remember the hundreds of people that showed up at City Hall in opposition of the driving range on this property. I was one of them and I thought I recalled you being present that night as well. Perhaps you were present and just sat on the opposite side of the aisle from me. Regardless, a golf driving range is a stupid idea for this property. And THAT got approved!!! And if you look at the City’s zoning map, that driving range still appears as a possibility.

    And I attended the presentations and workshops held by Placemakers. If I recall correctly, they mentioned the City of Hutto form based code and how Hutto was the first city in Central Texas to adopt a form based code. It peaked my interests so I went home to research it and found that Mr. Lewis also worked in Hutto. If a form based code is so great, why did Mr. Lewis leave after it got adopted. That seems like what a consultant would do and not what a staff member would do. Just look at what has happened since our “Code” got adopted. Where are the consultants that assisted our City on that project?

    @ Voter – I don’t see the P&Z as a mirror of the Council. During Commissioner Taylor’s tenure on City Council, he supported the neighborhoods on many occasions and opposed numerous development opportunites. He also has supported numerous development opportunities for our City, both as a Councilmember and a P&Z Commissioner. If you were to judge P&Z’s position regarding this development based on the last P&Z meeting, I would certainly say there was no support for this project. Even Commissioner Couch expressed opposition for this project, and his wife was a very pro-development Councilmember during her tenure. Seems to me that our P&Z is much less influenced by the developers than our City Council.

    And for everyone’s information, I do live in San Marcos. I actually live near this property. And I have lived here for many years. I can’t say it’s truly in MY “neighborhood” because I live on the opposite side of Bishop, south of Craddock, from this property. I’m just tired of having the interests of the “myopic, self-centered” few (excellent adjective Dano!!) govern the betterment of the many. This would have been a great place for a grocery store. I’ve never heard of a Wal-Mart market but if it’s the grocery only part of a Wal-Mart, I’d definitely prefer that over student housing. Then I wouldn’t have to drive all the way through town to get to HEB. (And no, I don’t count the HEB near campus…this is nothing more than the student’s restocking beer and ramen noodle supply store. A joke of a grocery store, in my not so humble opinion, of course.)

    If you want facts about what COULD be put on this property, take a look at my original post. Mr. Weatherford has been waiting to sell this property to the highest bidder. Honestly, if this doesn’t pass, I hope Mr. Weatherford sells this property to the lowest bidder and someone builds 200+ single family homes on the property. It would serve the opposition right to have to live with what gets developed and remember what could have been. Lest we forget the old addage – “Hindsight is 20/20”.

    Again, if the neighbors really want to protect their neighborhood and their property values, why don’t they purchase the property and develop it (or not develop it) as they see fit.

  34. @ Dano. “You want to call development a stupid decision? Fine. But you have to understand that San Marcos is not and will never again be a “quiet little town” anymore.”

    I did not say development of the CITY is stupid, I know San Marcos is growing up and I am happy about that. It is that the city is being planned with no thought or care about the neighborhoods future. Sure this is a college town and sure the students, who I have no problem with are going to live among us. Is is the plain and simple fact that a development of this magnitude does not belong in the middle of multiple single family neighborhoods. I don’t know why this is such a hard concept for some of you to see. Where do YOU live Dano? Let’s put this development in YOUR back yard and see how it affect YOU and YOUR property value. I bet you would be up in arms just as the endangered neighborhoods around this property are.

    As for “myopic, self-centered view” that term appropriately fits the folks who are in favor of this project…
    1.Ophthalmology . pertaining to or having myopia; nearsighted.
    2.unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted.
    3.lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded.

    Nearsighted (not looking at the long term negative effects), unable or unwilling to act prudently (that’s you guys to a “T”), lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded (this describes Weatherford’s Due doesn’t it?)

  35. @ Weatherford’s Due.
    THANK YOU for looking at the satellite images! Unfortunately your shortsighted, narrow minded uhhh… can we say myopic view didn’t paint the WHOLE picture.

    Yes, the Alabama property (Retreat at Lake Tamaha) has 8 homes on Green Grove Lane 500′ feet away from the South-East corner of the property with a thick tree buffer… The homes DON’T have the main entrance going right through their neighborhood now do they? The rest of that property is surrounded by WILDERNESS and a LAKE, nothing else for miles.

    The retreat Columbia also has 8-10 homes on Barnes and yes, by the entrance. No offense meant, but did you do a street view of those homes? In this situation the development probably increased these homes value since they are old, run-down 800 sq. foot homes. Some even appear to be double wides. The rest of the property is surrounded by businesses: a trucking company, business complexes and a church. Oh and wilderness and a vast farm.

    The Retreat and The Retreat 2 in Athens. Let’s look at The Retreat located on the corner of Ruth St. and Ruth Dr. Businesses, a huge apartment complex, a parkway, and yes a small handful (proximately 12-14) of single family homes. Also, per your own words “appear to be in a neighborhood full of multifamily mixed in with single family residential along Conrad Drive, Northcrest Drive, and Northside Drive.” These streets are NOT around the Retreat property, you were looking at some other development. The Retreat property is on the corner of Ruth St. and Ruth Dr. as stated earlier.

    The Station at Milledge in Athens, GA is surrounded by a business park, businesses, and yes what appears to be a single family neighborhood, but the main entrance is not in the neighborhood. ALSO This complex is MUCH SMALLER (45 units from what I see) than the proposed San Marcos property of 195 units.

    The retreat South in Athens (which you didn’t mention) backs up to a golf coarse, wilderness and farmland and another apartment complex.

    The Retreat Knoxville (which you also failed to mention) is in total isolation by wilderness/farmland with another apartment complex across the street.

    The Retreat at Lubbock (also conveniently not mentioned) is in the middle of what appears to be farmland to the South, A highway then farmland to the North, apartment complexes to the East, and highway to the West. Basically in the middle of nowhere.

    Now let’s all use common sense and realize that the Retreat Partners have NOT place a complex this large in a PREDOMINATELY single family neighborhood like is proposed in San Marcos.
    Wake up and smell the coffee!

    Finally, from what you say, you do not live in the neighborhoods that will be affected. Oh, and you got Dano’s quote wrong, (“myopic, self-centered” few)… he actually said “myopic, self-centered” VIEW not FEW. In fact, the neighborhood petition to keep the property single family has way more than a “few” supporters. I would say the majority of the neighbors have signed this making it into the hundreds.

    Ignorance must be bliss.

  36. Out of curiosity, how much does Dr. Weatherford want for this property?
    What is the property’s actual (fair) value?

  37. I know CAD value isn’t always accurate (I wouldn’t sell my house for what it’s listed on the rolls at, but I believe Hays County Appraisal District has the property on the tax rolls at just under $600K.

  38. “Where do YOU live Dano? Let’s put this development in YOUR back yard and see how it affect YOU and YOUR property value. I bet you would be up in arms just as the endangered neighborhoods around this property are.”

    Actually, I don’t live anywhere near this area. But I DO live in an area that is going to be severely affected by the Paso Robles development. And while I’m not fond of the idea of looking out my back door and seeing a huge development where open land used to be, I’m smart enough to recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around what *I* want.

    That side of town NEEDS a grocery store. There is currently no better place for one. With existing apartment complexes at 90%+ capacity (according to a Chamber survey from last summer), San Marcos NEEDS additional student housing. No one particularly WANTS either of those things in their immediate areas, but they have to go somewhere. Even looking beyond the grocery store and the Retreat, several other proposals have been put forth for that particular piece of property through the years, and ALL of them have fallen to the “NIMBY” crowd. Yet these people continue to say (with a straight face, no less) that they would be all for “the right kind of development” on that property. Yeah right.

  39. I went to a couple of the sites on Google maps and I like it. The old transportion master plan had Ramona cutting through the Weatherford tract and hitting RR12 at Hughson. Does that go away with this plan? I hope they make it happen so we can all stop wondering what is going to happen to the Weatherford tract. And don’t make it a park. We have more park land than we can afford already.

  40. Bob, I love parks and wish we had more, but given that our neighborhood just adopted Schulle Canyon, it is hard to argue with you re: whether we can afford more parks.

    I’m still not sure about this development. I’m curious to hear the next discussion and whether P&Z has any guidance re: how they would like to see potential problems addressed beforehand.

  41. On Feb. 8 the Planning and Zoning Commission postponed the vote on The Retreat until the Feb. 22 P&Z meeting.

  42. On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission will vote on The Retreat San Marcos.
    The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in city council chambers, 630 E. Hopkins.

    If you wish to send a comment about this proposed development to the staff or the commission, you can email John Foreman of the planning staff:

    The phone number for the planning department is 393-8230.

    The agenda items for The Retreat San Marcos begin at # 8; see below.

    LUA-10-15. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Low Density Residential (LDR) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for two tracts of land located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    LUA-10-16. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Commercial (C) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for a 1.71 acre tract of land located in the 1500 Block of Old Ranch Road 12.

    LUA-10-17. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Open Space (OS) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for three tracts of land located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    LUA-10-18 (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Commercial (C) to Medium Density Residential (MDR) for a tract of land located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    LUA-10-19 (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Future Land Use Map Amendment from Open Space (OS) to Commercial (C) for a tract of land located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    ZC-10-21 (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Zoning Change from Office Professional (OP) to Multi-Family Residential (MF-12) for a 1.71 acre tract located in the 1500 Block of Old Ranch Road 12.

    ZC-10-22 (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Zoning Change from Single Family Residential (SF-6) to Community Commercial (CC) 2.75 acre tract located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    ZC-10-23 (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Zoning Change from Single Family Residential (SF-6) to Multi-Family Residential (MF-12) for a 39.4 acre tract located at 508 Craddock Avenue.

    PDD-10-02. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for a Planned Development District (PDD) overlay with a Multi-Family Residential (MF-12) and a Community Commercial (CC) base zoning for an approximately 48.36 acre tract located at 508 Craddock Avenue and in the 1500 block of Old Ranch Road 12.

    TMA-11-01. (The Retreat at San Marcos) Hold a public hearing and consider a request by ETR Development Consulting LLC, agent for Retreat Holdings, LLC, for an amendment to the city’s Thoroughfare Plan removing the Hughson-Ramona Collector

  43. So it is going to city council. It was nice to see that p&z has some cojones when considering single-family homes or student living. Thanks for the motion to deny Mr. Bishop and those that voted to let elected officials at the least take up this bit of controversy. I know that your new chair probably saw it coming (your motion) but do you think he thought that it would carry? Mr. Couch did you really mean to “kind of say” that Sagewood has raised your property values?

  44. I apologize for my absence. I was had built up too much vacation time and they made me burn 2 weeks so I decided to get away for a while. I will attempt to address everyone that has written since my last post in due time.

    It’s a shame that there was so much confusion during the P&Z’s discussions tonight. I think the chair and the staff could have (and should have) done a much better job. It was interesting that one of the newest members of the P&Z makes the motion, doesn’t get any assistance from anyone to make sure the motion is correct, the motion “dies” because it didn’t get a second even though Commissioner Brian said he would have seconded the motion if he had understood what was being done. Not that the vote would have turned out any different but still…mass confusion…doesn’t reflect well on the staff or the P&Z as a whole.

    @Ted Marachut – I know where I live. It’s the other side of Bishop from this site. I know Castle Forrest, Oak Heights, Bishops Crossing, Franklin Square, etc. are the much more recognized neighborhoods but I live in the Westover Neighborhood. We may not be as vocal or highly recognized (since we are on the opposite side of Bishop), but we’re still here.

    @Jake – you’re absolutely correct. I only referenced the Retreat complexes that ARE adjacent to single family neighborhoods. I believe you stated at the P&Z meeting that they don’t build their projects in areas with single family residential adjacent to the site. I was simply pointing out that there are several of their complexes adjacent to single family residential.

    As for the people who signed the petition…anyone will sign any petition if you spin it the right way. My wife and I were both approached to sign this petition. What we were told is that the petition was to support keeping our neighborhood zoned for single family residential and not changing it to multifamily residential. Of course when I started asking questions, the kind person at my door would not give me any specifics as to what the City was proposing to change about my neighborhood and politely left. If I weren’t the type of person that likes to know what I’m signing before I sign it or just signed something to get people to go away, I would have signed this petition and my name would be among the “more than a few ‘supporters'”. Petitions are like statistics, they can be spun in whatever way you want them to be spun to make them sound favorable for your cause.

    @Dave J – The developers mentioned the value of the fire station site as being $1.2 million. This seems high but if this is competitive to what has been recently sold or is currently on the market at that intersection, it’s about $10 per square foot which would be $435,600 per acre. I doubt that is the actual price, again, I think it’s high. It would be interesting to know what the entire 48 acre site would cost.

    One thing that was mentioned by Dr. Weatherford’s realtor that I did find curious was that if Dr. Weatherford’s son couldn’t successfully complete a single family subdivision (with no cost to purchase land) then single family wasn’t the best use of the property. The Dolly/Archie loop is incomplete. Who knows the real reason why but I remember when there were plans to build the rest of that neighborhood and it never got done. It’d be interesting if someone with knowledge of the cost of construction of a single family neighborhood could do an analysis of what the land price would have to be to purchase and develop it for single family and still make money. Certainly Commissioners Seebeck and Wood considered this when recommending denial. I would hope Councilmember Thomason would do the same if this does move forward to City Council.

    I think the developer has done everything possible to address the concerns of the City with respect to traffic, neighborhood protection, etc. I do think the fire station site is less beneficial than a grocery store, but I also know the adjacent neighbors would oppose a zoning change that would allow a grocery store so given everything that the Fire Chief pointed out, it seems good to me.

    I’d like to thank Commissioner Brian for recognizing and acknowledging that what “could” be there could be much worse than what is guaranteed to be there with this development. At the end of the day, the issue is what it is…students. I don’t necessarily know that I’d want them in my backyard either, but I know that if the developer was proposing to keep them 200 feet away from my back yard, I’d support that over not knowing what could be developed there in the future. I know for certain that it would be better than having a 2 story single family home looking down into my back yard.

    Oh well…I guess this issue is over. Guess I’ll have to wait to fight this battle until the next time this property is up for rezoning.

  45. They have absolutely screwed the neighborhood… have you seen this strip mining looking site??? Do you live next to this eyesore???? Does your car get mud & rocks thrown at it daily because of the construction debris on the road???
    Bucky & Pam Couch aren’t you glad you don’t live here? Bill Taylor should be ashamed at himself. These people have ruined the neighborhood.
    Thank you so much.

  46. The consensus on P&Z seems to be that this is not going well, at all. I think one of them called it a disaster. It will be interesting to see what everyone thinks when it is finished.

  47. Is blight under the purview of the P&Z. Because boy do we have allot of that in this community. For example that nursing home near Springtown, not to mention Springtown. And, of course ALL OVER the South Side of town. I see that museum was never renovated. We even have blight on Belvin! Maybe before we continue the development, we fix what is already broken.
    Best Regards, LMC

  48. Well, it is most definitely a major construction site. But I have to ask….is San Marcos going to build ANYTHING other than apartments? Aren’t we already overbuilt?

    Honestly, we’re thinking seriously of shipping out. We live in the San Antonio historical district, and many properties here are going way downhill. Flophouses with an abundance of residents, vehicles and trashed yards are starting to pop up. It ain’t pretty.

    The charm of San Marcos is starting to wear off, I’m afraid. Maybe I can sell my restored 1929 bungalow to some developer and they can build a high-rise on our little lot. I’ve no doubt the city would approve it.

  49. I’m going to cross reference another newstreamz article (about city building largest subdivision)..

    “P&Z Commissioner Randy Bryan expressed strong support for Paso Robles…“We need this in San Marcos,” Bryan said on July 12. “We hear from people all the time, ‘Why are we approving all of these apartments, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.’ That’s out of our hands…”

    So that’s what a Commissioner hears when a handful of concerned people show up to speak at the meetings? “Blah blah blah” ?!?
    They don’t hear your concerns about sticking to master plans to prevent destruction of existing neighborhoods, traffic problems, future ghettos, slumlords, affordable housing, golf course built over environmentally sensitive areas during record droughts, etc…

  50. Bump.

    It looks like some of the unreasonable homeowners were right. Overflow parking, party buses unloading at 3 in the morning, fights in people’s front yards, noise, property damage, etc.

    I hope we find a solution, but what I really hope, is that we learn what makes for a compatible development.

  51. Multi-family…..what an outright abuse of the word family! We know now that these type of projects are all ” rent by the bedroom” private off-campus dorm rooms, only for use by students! Sure wish I had awaken, before this cancer was allowed….A few years back I was able to save a baby owl that fell out of the now non-exitant trees at the edge of this property. One life saved, so many disturbed now….:-( jlb

  52. Ted, I agree with the sentiment. Sadly I see little evidence that there is much effort on the part of the city to even try and seek this knowledge. I sincerely hope I am mistaken.

  53. Overflow from The Retreat is *still* bringing drunks into the neighborhoods. I was treated to emails from neighbors this morning, complaining about discarded beer bottles, drunks yelling at residents, pissing in front yards, etc.

    Quite the nice compliment to our neighborhood.

    San Marcos: a great place for homeowners who don’t know any better.

  54. Ted, I’m right down the street from ya’ll and I feel for you. I thought the city was going to help out by getting resident parking stickers or some such type of measure so that they could tow non resident cars.

  55. Maybe. Eventually.

    I just want it here, on record, for those who think the resistance to multi-family is unwarranted.

    I *STILL* have not seen any discussions about making future developments more compatible. The new one on LBJ looks like it has the potential to be a real shit-show.

    I hope I am wrong.

  56. Letter writing campaigns to city officials and bringing as many folks from your neighborhood as will come to voice their concerns during city comment periods does work sometimes. Have ya’ll turned up the heat? The squeaky wheel gets the oil in these types of situations. The city did it to you, they should bend over backwards to put things to right, or as much to right as possible.

  57. I’d love to believe that, Melissa : )) Except — the apartments at Capes Camp will bring the *exact* same parking issues to that neighborhood. This project design was signed, sealed and delivered in the midst of all the complaints form neighbors of the Retreat. It is mind boggling!!

    How, in this case, did the squeaky wheel accomplish anything? The council and city planners repeated the exact same mistake (regarding parking) while right in the middle of saying “oops, we screwed up” over at the Retreat.

    So, how can we deal with that???

  58. It is mind boggling and I would REALLY like the Mayor to address the city and explain why they approve Capes Camp. There were issues there that we were NOT privy to and it’s OUR city.

    I think getting parking stickers and the like is MUCH more likely to happen than getting a development denied in this city. Sad, but true. I wonder if someone will have to die b/4 they put up the stop light at Hughson that was part of the Retreat package?

  59. I’d love to hear some of the supporters defend this development now. As predicted, buffers are inadequate, as is parking, and problems are fairly significant.

  60. All the new restrictions on multi-family don’t increase parking one bit and that seems to be one of the biggest complaints about current complexes.

  61. Yo, Ted… which development? The Retreat? We supported Dr. Weatherford at the time despite years spent opposing previous attempts to develop his property.

    We’ve lived in this area for many, many years and gradually have seen residential properties deteriorate along Old Ranch Road 12. Therefore, given all the previous proposals we believed the Retreat would be the best use of the property. And, so far…we’ve had no regrets. They have proved to be good neighbors albeit you probably are skeptical because of the recent events (pool party). FYI, we weren’t even aware it had happened until a couple of days later and we live directly across the street.

    We are much more disturbed what is happening to the residences next to and behind us that have deteriorated remarkably in the last few years. Of course, there are exceptions but they are few. One only has to drive through this neighborhood to know who is house proud.

  62. Again I ask, directly across the street, where? Not on our side, I am sure. They have been anything but good neighbors over here.

  63. Frankly, I am liking them more, now that I understand that it is a community pool, I think I’ll start spending my time over there.

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