The San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday deadlocked 4-4 on whether to approve a planned development district for San Antonio developer Darren Casey’s proposed upscale apartment and retail project on Sessom Drive. P&Z commissioners weighed in before voting.
“This has been obviously a very contentious project from the very beginning. It’s kind of sad, some of the personal attacks that have gone on. That’s not good for this town. The reason I (made the motion to approve) is, I don’t want to see this postponed. The developers have all the rights to pull this and get more time, work with people, do this, do that. But I don’t think it’s going to change anything. So there needs to be an up or down vote, because tomorrow night they get to do all this again.”
“I’m a little concerned about this last report from the San Marcos River Foundation’s engineer. Based on that report alone, makes me believe that this project could be detrimental to the river. I know that in the public hearing phase the developer’s representatives said that they do not agree with that report and that they will be refuting it in their own way, I guess. However, I’m expected to vote tonight without having that information. I’m uncomfortable with that.”
“The whole thing about protecting the river from the runoff and the environmental impact, it’s all much more complex than I can understand it — especially because it seems like it’s changed every time I hear about what the plan is to keep sediments and other pollutants from the creek, which runs right into the river. … It seems very complicated to me and I’ll admit that I don’t quite understand all the details of it, but I don’t really think that anyone does at this point. And so I just don’t trust it; I don’t trust that it’s going to work.”
“I’ve got mixed feelings because I love this project… Up until three weeks ago, this was single family. And now, three weeks later, the city council is going to vote and potentially change this. And to me, that just seems too quick. I know this is a whole ‘nother issue, but I’d like the city council to address — people get a letter and a week later we vote on it, it goes to council, and something that’s been a house for 50 years is now a business… This is the best project I’ve ever voted against.”
“I hope you all recognize that this vote has not been easy for any of us. I hope you recognize that it doesn’t really matter what direction we take tonight — it goes to city council tomorrow night and requires a supermajority. … The demand really appears to be for multi-family. The issues are where to put it, where it’s going to go. I think these are just things that this commission and citizens, that we’re all going to have to work together on as we go forward. I don’t think this is going to get any easier. It’s going to take a concerted effort by all of us to make his work for everybody.”
“As our illustrious chair reminded, we need to vote with our conscience. And my conscience here (warns me about) the environmental impact. I did my masters thesis on the San Marcos River. I’ve done extensive work up in that watershed. And I don’t think there’s anyway that this could survive construction and after construction without having significant negative impacts to the headwaters of the San Marcos River. That’s my main issue.”
“If it was my property, I would like to see it turned into a big park. But that’s not going to happen. It just boils down to the lesser of two evils. My main concerns are traffic flow, flow of pedestrians, environmental impact (on) the river, potential geological issues. All of those are definitely issues of concern…but I would much rather see this project go down for San Marcos than something else.”Email | Print
It would be handy to have their votes listed with the comments. I know that the votes are listed elsewhere, but it is not self-evident (to me) how they voted, from the comments above, and it is kind of a pain to flip back and forth between the articles.
I already did just that, so no need to edit anything for my benefit, but I suspect others would appreciate it, when they read this piece.
Thanks for the suggestion, Ted.
Also, that’s only seven commissioners. Chris Wood had no comments?
He asked questions. I don’t remember him making a lot of declarative statements.
Mr.Taylor saying that there is a “demand” for this project and so it should go through is ridiculous. Should anybody be surprised that a developer would want to develop the property as fully as possible to make as much money as possible? But money$$$ should not be the ONLY thing that is considered. The “demand” for apartments can be met by putting apartments in locations that fit with the master plan. In my opinion, we should have a moratorium on changing ANY property in the city to apartment / multi-family that is not already in the master plan. There are hundreds and hundreds of apartments being built right now. Any new apartments should be placed in growth corridors of the city that are already designated for apartments. Just because a developer is demanding a change does not mean that the P&Z should make this change. Let’s look at all of the issues and do what is right for our city.
I’m curious if these developers are paying full retail for these properties. Or, are they paying something greater than the value of residentially zoned property, but less than the value of commercial/MF/Mixed use property, thus creating a win for the buyer and a win for the seller?
I just can’t figure out what else would cause SO MUCH rezoning. Are we out of suitably zoned property? Is the master plan THAT FAR OFF from something that makes sense for the city?
Big sigh..another decision-maker giving in to the ‘lesser of two evils’.(Ehlers)
Certainly there is a really good way to use that land that doesn’t compromise the river or the neighborhoods. I hear green space and park lands are popular attractions now for businesses relocating. It could be $$$, but in the long run a good investment for the city.
As far as our 8th commissioner is concerned, I would’nt mind knowing what his questions were, and how he voted…
He voted for it, which is why I thought it was odd that he had no comments, with so many people there to voice their opposition. The others seemed to feel a certain sense of obligation, to explain to the citizens they work for, why they were voting against their wishes.
@ Bucky…I would like to see the “Evidence” to back up the claims made by some, that they have been personally attacked with phone calls and emails! The truth is, these claims are just one fabricated weapons that some people, of limited intelligence no doubt, use to ” FORCE ” their schemes upon people to get what they want. Just saying…@ Kenneth….Good thing mankind did not simply quit, before we landed on the moon, an idea that many perhaps thought was impossible! Three things could transpire, should the government body of San Marcos choose to ignore the voices of its citizens, that are perhaps the real majority: (a)Petitions (B)Referendums (C) Recalls Something to think about in the days, months, and years ahead. Sincerly, Jaimy L. Breihan 🙂
It appears that some, with adequate intellect, get that this project has basically a snow balls chance in a hot place of ever being built! The environmental impact alone will speak for itself! I suggest that all of the players in the present sitting government do as I have recommended, and watch the factual documentary that was beautifully created by Robert Redford and others, ” The Unforseen”, and absorb what transpired in a city just north of San Marcos not too long ago. This canyon could very well be the catalist that turns the the tide of the developemental travesty, that has as of late, been forced on the citizens of this beautiful city, that are now saying CLEARLY, AND WITH EVIDENTURY FACTS, ” ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !”. I hope someday soon we can all go back to living in one of the most blessed places I have ever hung my hat,as friends! Sincerly, Jaimy L. Breihan
I understand that the plan is to extend Comanche and close off Loquat. Are there any other access points. I saw people planning sidewalks at the end of Orchard today. Are we going to have an additional 1000-2000 cars driving through the neighborhoods to bypass Sessoms? Anyone who has driven thru Sessoms and Comanche at 5pm knows how screwed up the city made this intersection.
Would like to know that actual traffic flow projections.
I agree with mary and ted. let’s not put the cart in front of the horses and stay cool. This proposed zoning change is really big and just one of many. This piece meal approach is very dangerous, called spot zoning, and not recommended in any planning policies, sometimes even deemed illegal if frivolous. The master plan is definitely old but like ted says, is it that far off ? IT is about to be modified i understand. With the current trend at the pz, council and planning office, i am very worried that a reworked master plan may wreak havoc in san marcos.
I certainly did not move here 15 years ago to find what i left behind: polluted waterways, bad traffic, empty old buildings, disregard for quality of life, disregard for watershed,…
I keep reading and hearing how commissioners and other folks in our city government love this project and wonder why. Surely it is not because of the window dressing with the bicycle rack, the proposed roof top garden, etc…it is not even leed certified project. so what is it ?
Mr. Casey has plenty of other more appropriate projects to work on. This one is just not at the right location. Approving it will just add burden to the city infrastucture and upset yet another single family home neighborhood.
Scoop (aka: Brad), once again you did a wonderful job of reporting (re: the Sessoms Creek project). Your statements were factual representations of what was said in summary. Keep up the good work. Obviously this was one of the most difficult votes taken by P&Z in recent years. I think it is noteworthy to note that as the community was split, so was the commission. The process doesn’t always work, but this time it just might have. I heard great points on both sides about this project and am glad to have been a part of it. It appears that Council did not accept our offering as a “recommendation” (for or against because of the tie) so P&Z will no doubt see this project again. Ultimately this one will have to be decided by our City Council with a Super Majority looming over the proceedings. Thanks to everyone that participated in the process, that’s what makes this such a great community.
Mr. Taylor: Is the community split? Other than those who stand to profit from this project it seems like the overwhelming majority of the community is against this project.
Indeed, it seems pretty clear that all the signs around town and people at the meetings are not there in support of the project but against something they see as inimical to this town. Indeed, I would call it pretty much a slap in the face to the bulk of this community if this project is rammed down our throats. It also seems quite noteworthy that the same level of opposition is not being raised about the Thorpe project, which is rather akin to the Sessoms one. In other words it is hard to dismiss this opposition as simply a “anti-development” crowd. I, for one, think the Thorpe ideas make sense and are good for this town
At any rate, since you now seem to be participating in our little debate (and I applaud you for doing so, such should be the new format of democracy within the milieu of modern media), I would love if you could explain why the city denied a change of single family usage to multi-use for two houses on 1.5 acres located at Holland and Alamo due to the potentiality that it might damage the quality of life in the adjoining neighborhood at the very same meeting (literally less than a half hour earlier, with you voting against if I recall) you deadlocked on the Casey project that is an exponentially larger development in the same neighborhood (with you voting for, as I recall)? I am really curious how the 1.5 acre change could be dangerous, but not so a giant development in a much more environmentally sensitive area literally a five minute walk away.
Please, as a stakeholder who desires to pass my house and community down to my unborn grandkids in better shape than we found it (the way us adults should pretty much consider every decision we make be it federal debt or local development if you ask me), I beg to see how the logic in the first does not apply to the second…