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

by BRAD ROLLINS

Officers will stand guard at future town hall meetings about a controversial multimillion development near Sessom Creek after police received a tip that opponents of the project plan to stage disturbances of public forums.

“We have received some information that there are some people who are going to try to disrupt the meetings and we are planning on having some presence to make sure everything stays quiet and peaceful,” San Marcos Police Chief Howard E. Williams told the San Marcos Mercury.

Williams would not go into detail about information law enforcement has received except to say it was reported by an informant who “said they were concerned that someone might get hurt” in the course of attempts to disturb the meetings.

“We’re just working on that little bit of information and want to take steps to make sure nothing happens,” Williams said.

Williams said he called another city department head this morning to relate the warning when he was told about some sort of disturbance at a community meeting held Monday night at the Dunbar Center.

A man was reportedly forced out of the meeting by bystanders after angrily confronting real estate broker Carter Morris, who was conducting the meeting.

San Antonio developer Darren Casey wants to build a 419-unit luxury apartment and shopping development on 14.3 acres across Sessom Drive from Texas State University. The tract overlooks Sessoms Creek which feeds into the spring fed San Marcos River headwaters at Spring Lake.

Morris said a handful of the 50 people or so at the meeting were vocally and emotionally in opposition to the project but that one man in particular got in his face in an attempt to provoke a physical fight.

“At numerous occasions during the meeting it did become hostile,” Morris said.

“Our goal is to build a development like nothing that has been seen in San Marcos and we also want to go above and beyond in terms of transparency. We are having these meetings because we want to work with everyone affected by this to build the best project that we can build,” Morris said.

This is a developing story. Were you at Monday’s rowdy meeting on the Sessoms Drive development? What did you see?

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29 thoughts on “Police: Development opponents plan to ‘disrupt’ meetings

  1. The developer was more the provocateur than the concerned citizens and he could have stepped back from the fray in any moment, but chose to stand close to the citizen speaking. This is classic example of what these developers will do to get their way – turning the tables in the press. What the article fails to mention is the conflict of interest this Carter Morris guy has that makes us all suspicious of what is going on in the first place. Of course he says he will recuse himself, but who knows what behind the scene strings have already been pulled if most of the P&Z are also developers?

    The developers understand that most of the people who showed up were against them and in desperation are trying to make it look like they are just innocent little bystanders whose concern is “creating jobs” for people. Nothing is further than the truth, there is no altruism in these people’s minds, they want to take the money and run.

    Bulldozers are more than a metaphor. They will be moving into this beautiful sacred ground and there will be no “nature” for anyone to protect. The town of San Marcos must speak up now or loose something precious that brought us here together in the first place.

  2. Carter Morris arrogantly did nothing to empathize with the concerned citizens. Instead, he chose to make the situation worse by threatening to end the meeting (twice), not call on everyone in the room who had their hand up, and at one point- in response to a request for more time for this project to be further considered and explored, Morris angrily said “would any of your minds change if you did have more time?” The angry man should have checked himself but Mr. Morris’ demeanor certainly left much to be desired.

    The “tip” given to SMPD, coupled with this news story, is an obvious ploy on the part of Carter Morris to generate negative publicity about the citizen’s argument against spot zoning and to preserve a natural area. Mr. Morris is a Commissioner on the Planning and Zoning board and also the real estate broker on the pending development. Although he has recused himself from the board, he remains active on this deal. Citizens of San Marcos: the fox is guarding the hen house. Speak to your city council member and encourage them to amend the city ethics code. Members of a powerful board such as Planning and Zoning should be held to the same ethical standards as City Council. Mr. Morris: resign from the Commission immediately.

  3. The Police Chief’s announcement that there will be a law enforcement presence at a public meeting to keep things “quiet” is an unacceptable intimidation of those citizens who have a right to attend and voice their opinions.

    We don’t yet live in a police state, but considering the police actions around the country toward the Occupy Movement, it is fair to ask whether San Marcos police officers will attend the meeting armed with pepper spray to use against anyone who is not “quiet.”

    The Police Chief’s announcement may tend to discourage many people from attending for fear that they will get caught up in a police-caused melee as a result of police over-reaction. Intimidating citizens should not happen in a free society, but when the financial interests of the son of a former Mayor are at stake, it seems that the powers that be will do whatever is necessary to protect those financial interests.

    San Marcos has ample land available for apartments without destroying a single-family neighborhood in a way that violates the Master Plan, but this city council has demonstrated repeatedly that it has no respect for the Master Plan when a developer wants to make some more money.

  4. I figured it was something like that. Well, at least I hoped so, although it is hardly out of the question given the direction we seem to be headed in our relations between state and citizen in this nation. Why not just come out and say we received a call then?

  5. Good- I’m glad there was some screaming. Maybe that’s what it’ll take for the citizens who DO show up at meetings to get heard.

    Our appointed and elected officials have have blatantly ignored involved citizens’ concerns for way too long.

    In another article, P&Z Commissioner Randy Bryan defended approving the controversial golf course development over the recharge zone: “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..”

    Yep,that’s what he said “…blah,blah,blah…”

    Maybe the Commissioners should really start listening to the people.

  6. I for one was there at the meeting to learn more, and once I discovered the purpose of the meeting was interested in giving constructive feedback.

    At the current rate of our P&Z this project will get passed whether its a good or bad development. I see this as an opportunity to give input on what we like to see and set the bar for future developers (because you know its not going to stop).

    As far as how this man behaved, I personally felt uncomfortable by his actions and think that it made everyone look bad, it was also not fair for the others who were trying to be constructive. Shouting and getting into someones face in a small group setting like that is no way to get your point across, so you better learn that before you try and get anything done.

    I will be at the next meeting to share my thoughts and will be glad for the police presence to keep order.

    Cori, you’re comment made me laugh out loud!!

  7. If the developers want to do a work shop, and they open it up to the general public at a publicly owned community center, then the feedback from the public, no matter how adverse to the goals of the project, are genuine and appropriate. Nobody can make people like something if they don’t like it. Sorry! Many of the community, and specifically from the affected neighborhoods feel that they were rushed into the approval of the rezoning from single family (r1) to multi-use or multi-family(mf).
    This effectively allows a few interested parties to change the masterplan with very little check or oversite from citizens at an excellerated rate.

    This particular project (Sessoms), coupled with two projects on Chestnut and another at the intersection of Holland and N LBJ, all will impact the parking, traffic and general drivability through the area. We citizens need an overall traffic plan to cover all proposed traffic changes and costs for road improvements in order to accommodate the rezoning. We should slow the rezoning down in order for the city planners to do the proper job of traffic planning. This will give us citizens a chance to objectively review the true costs and impacts of the rezoning and the needed infrastructure changes. Then we should vote on road improvements and rezoning, not before.

  8. Good points Forrest, well said. This city consistently gives road projects short-shrift (with the exception of the Wonder World extension which was over-built). Back in the late ’90s Bishop was reconstructed to the lowest standards. LBJ from Sessoms to Holland has been “on the list” for reconstruction for years. (it badly needs sidewalks, storm sewer, curbs, traffic calming – complete reconstruction). Rio Vista was essentially gravel roads before they finally started the current work which seems to be taking forever. I honestly don’t know where the money goes but it hasn’t been for roads. This current project may be a planners fantasy come true but it shouldn’t be allowed before some traffice improvements get done. Perhaps a TIF where the tax increases from this (and maybe the two on Chestnut) go toward road improvements. Academy and Holland needs to be improved as does Sessoms & LBJ.

  9. To say nothing of the “hope” that this will not pollute the river that some of us care pretty deeply about…

  10. As a peaceful, concerned citizen, I am quite disturbed by the people D.C has teamed up with on the North Campus Housing Project. Using ones finacial power ( Carter Morris and family ) to attempt the indiscriminant rape of the most pristine part of our state, is deplorable at the very least. When people become absent of positive spiritual presence in their lies, work, and families, all that remains are crass, impudent,mean school yard bullies that must be dealt with by those of higher minds! Yes, a gentleman was obviously distressed by the handiwork of Carter Morris and his team, would you not be if it were your family that was under threat of this monster? Peace will return once again to our beautiful ” Lost World ” in the canyon, when Carter Morris and his ” GANG ” are sent home with their tails tucked between their trembling legs! JLB 🙂

  11. The disagreement that occurred at the end of the workshop provided by the developer for the public, happened practically over my head as I sat in the meeting. It was just two guys saying “don’t get in my face”, and nothing more than that. I just stood up at that point and started folding the chairs up, around me. It was time for the building to be turned over to the next scheduled event, anyway. I hope tonight’s workshop about this project will go more smoothly so we can learn as much as possible about these plans before the P&Z meeting next week.

  12. Shouldn’t folks resign from P&Z if they have active projects? Recusal isn’t enough.

    Also ask the two council candidates in the run-off where they stand on this.

  13. With all the crappy old apartment complexes in this town you think they could find some to tear down and improve.

  14. Would folks mind writing about any interesting answers to their questions at tonight’s meeting? I found the “open house” format to be very frustrating. I’m not even sure who the folks were that I overheard answering a few questions.

    I was finally told that this is intended to be, for the most part, student housing. Others are welcome, but there are no amenities for children, for example, so I doubt many families would be interested. Also, no one has any idea what type of retail might come in, but that no grocery store is planned. Not quite what I would call a “destination” project….

    Sigh.

  15. Ps. To the San Marcos Mercury, You should be ashamed to produce such inflammatory swill toward a group when your reporter wasn’t even there. Shame! You should have at least researched the event. This deliberate inflammatory article could cause an irresponsible escalation in normal politics of our small town. Shame! If you want to be taken as a serious media source and not a Fox type-hype source, then control your content to a truthful and honestly researched level.

  16. It is apparent, from comments here and at the first P&Z meeting, that those affected by this proposal don’t want it to go forward.
    Do we live in a democracy or an oligarchy?

  17. Smells and looks like a plutocracy from here…maybe if more than 5% bothered to pay attention and vote in local elections it would be different…

  18. With online news, one puts the story out there and it evolves through the participation of others, as has happened in this case. The police chief saying that he was concerned about the safety of public meetings to the point that he was dispatching officers to keep the peace seemed to me like something people would want to know about. I knew there would be alternative versions of what happened Monday which is why I invited witnesses to share what they saw. The last thing I want to do is disappoint the readers who make this enterprise go ’round but I do think we are doing a good job of covering this story with balance.

  19. In this day of ipods and HTC EVO, there was no video or photos snapped?

    No one recorded any audio of these “angry confrontations” ? Hmmmmm

    Sounds like false flag for me. This is Interesting timing with the runoff and all.

    I’ve voted for Mr. Nichols twice now!

  20. To Brad,

    I’m sorry Brad, the Police chief did’nt write the story, you did!
    You put the inflammatory title out there, and you wrote the article
    on a skewed sampling of sources. If there was a question as to the leap
    of logic from small town politics here in San Marcos to a “Group wanting to disrupt the city council meeting”, then you should personally be at the meetings and not write hazardous articles. Yes, you represent an enterprise, but does that mean that you don’t report with objectively?
    You used the word balanced. I’ve also heard the word used in the phrase
    “Fair and Balanced”. Is that what you want to become? Again, I ask you to really consider your content before publishing a one sided article.

  21. The Angels Of San Marcos, texas : Wildlife, Nature and Educational Preserve would like all people that love this town, the river, the beautiful wildlife, etc. , to get up on their chairs and let their voices scream loudly against the evil that is destroying our beautiful city! We are starting with the Sessom canyon, and will move on to other areas that are being raped by greedy, spiritually void developers, realtors, and the pawns that they have placed in our city government! Enough is enough, look for more good things to come at http://www.protectsmtx.org , we are here to stay! Jaimy L. Breihan 🙂

  22. I for one would like to say “thank you Brad”, you do a great job keeping us informed. Is there anyone out there willing to give us the other point of view, rather than the majority of what has been written in this thread? You know that old “fair and balanced” thing?

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