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by SEAN BATURA
After years of delays, construction on the Preserve at Windemere single-family neighborhood could still be six to eight months off, one of the property owners said this week.
The first phase of the project is currently envisioned as 74 one-acre lots with 42.13 acres of open space around an existing flood control dam and 3.9 acres of open space and parkland for the protection of caves.
In November, the San Marcos City Council approved a planned development district that allows the developers to build narrower lots in exchange for “low-impact development standards” designed to manage runoff and prevent contamination of the Edwards Aquifer. Other environmental measures required in the district include homeowners association restrictions on pesticides and fertilizers, a ban on St. Augustine grass and the promotion of rainwater harvesting, stringent impervious cover and suspended solid removal standards on every lot.
“We’ve voted on 3,000 units-worth of apartment complexes in the last six months. It would be a shame to not be supportive of one single-family development that’s come before us,” council member Ryan Thomason said at the November council meeting.
Earlier this month, the developers cleared another procedural hurdle when the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the subdivision plat. Austin developer Vince J. Wood, who owns the property with Robert L. Haug, said on Monday that “realistically” their group does not plan to start construction of roads, drainage and other public improvements until July at the earliest.
The planned homes are the first phase of a project that would total 235 acres if it is fully built out. The development has been hotly-debated due to its location near Sink Creek in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone and less than a mile upstream from the San Marcos Springs.
The development is currently restricted to 74 lots because that is the largest the city’s land development code allows to be built in an area with a single access point. If the city built additional streets to the development, more residential units could be constructed, though the developers have not submitted plans for the two additional phases. The city’s thoroughfare plan indicates two future streets to Windemere: the extension of Craddock Avenue and a collector road between Craddock and Lime Kiln Road, though the city has not committed funding to their construction.
Windemere is zoned single family rural residential, which requires lots to be at least one acre. City staff have estimated the land is well-suited for homes priced between $225,000 and $375,000.
Originally proposed as a denser development — 210 single-family homes; 42 patio homes and 6.7 acres of townhomes plus some large commercial lots — the developers were forced to scale down their immediate plans in mid-2010 when nearby landowner Paul Geiger wouldn’t sell the developers a sliver of land they needed to build a wide, divided parkway — which would have satisfied the land development code requirement for two access points.
Instead, Haug and Wood decided to focus on getting the 74 one-acre lots built and designate the other portions of their land as “future development.”
Despite the low-impact development standards required in the planned development district, the San Marcos River Foundation has opposed the development.
“It is really bad that in a city where we see almost nothing but apartments built, that when we finally get some single family housing somewhere, it’s in an area between two gigantic, earthen flood control dams, near a creek that has a large watershed, a steep watershed, that floods sharply,” the group’s director, Dianne Wassenich, told council members in November.
The road to the development will be elevated out of the floodplain to preserve access for emergency vehicles and evacuation route for residents in the event of a 100-year flood. The development will be built with six- to eight-foot bike and pedestrian sidewalks connected to the trail system in the adjoining city-owned Spring Lake Preserve.Email | Print