by BRAD ROLLINS
After its attorney pointed out an obscure provision in local codes, the San Marcos City Council on Wednesday postponed until early next year consideration of a controversial upscale $63 million apartment and retail campus above Sessom Creek.
Opponents and supporters of San Antonio developer Darren Casey’s efforts were locked and loaded for a marathon city council meeting on the project proposed for 14.3 acres across Sessom Drive from Texas State University.
But before the meeting got underway in earnest, the council went into executive session to hear advice from City Attorney Michael Cosentino. When they re-emerged later, they voted 6-1 without discussion to postpone consideration of Casey’s planned development district until the next regular council meeting. Council member Ryan Thomason cast the lone vote against waiting.
Council members told The Mercury their private discussions centered around a provision of the city’s Land Development Code that specifies, “The city council may vote only on a specific proposed [zoning map] amendment that has been recommended for approval or denial by the Planning and Zoning Commission.”
According to several people familiar with the closed door portion of the meeting, City Attorney Michael Cosentino told council members it would be questionable for the city council to vote on a rezoning request without an up or down recommendation from planning and zoning. Meeting the night earlier, on Tuesday, dueling motions to recommend approval and recommend denial failed to secure a majority.
“We want to get this right. We need this to be transparent,” council member Jude Prather said.
Casey and his crew left the meeting shortly after the vote to postpone but San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting stayed behind to “convey [Casey's] deep disappointment at this delay.”
“I think we’re getting motion sickness trying to adhere to the rules. Mr. Casey has played by the rules that have been established by the city and has done a good job of it. … We have to adhere to the rules. We can’t let emotion rule,” said Soecthing, who said his first ancestors moved to the area in the 1850s.
Jaimy Breihan, another lifelong resident, told council members the health of the San Marcos River “needs to be strong on your conscience and strong in your minds.”
Beihan said, “I don’t feel like [Casey's] being dissed. I feel like the people of this town are being dissed by them. They thought … that this was just going to go through in a big hurry and they were just going to bring in the bulldozers and go to work. But that’s a jewel up there.”