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

San Marcos residents, organizations and interest groups will have the chance to voice their opinions on Interim Zoning Strategies, Park Rules and Land Development Code/ Smart Code changes at a day-long, come and go open house on Wednesday, April 18 at the Activity Center.

The open house will focus on:

  1. Developing Zoning Strategies—especially where multi-family zoning is appropriate in San Marcos–over the next several months while the new Comprehensive Plan is being developed?
  2. What park rules should the City Council adopt to improve safety, enjoyment and environmental protection at city of San Marcos parks and natural areas? Should alcohol be allowed?
  3. What amendments to the Land Development Code, San Marcos SmartCode and Architectural Standards should be considered by Planning & Zoning and the City Council?

“These are all very important concerns to our community. We want to make sure that citizens and organizations have the opportunity to understand the issues and to share their views,” said City Manager Jim Nuse. “Because of the significance of each topic, we are combining the outreach effort into one day-long open house to make it easier for residents to participate.”

The open house will take place in rooms 2 and 3 of the Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18. The public is invited to come and go throughout the day.

City staff members will set up displays summarizing key points in each issue and visit with participants. Comment cards will be available for public input. The community comments will be compiled and shared with the City boards and City Council in upcoming workshops and meetings.

Interim Zoning Strategies:

The city has embarked on a Comprehensive Plan update that will serve as an overall guide for future development, housing, environment, economic development, infrastructure, parks, facilities and sustainable resources. Led by a city -council-appointed Steering Committee and Citizens Advisory Committee, the Comprehensive Plan is slated to be adopted in January 2013.

One of the central issues facing the city in recent months has been where to locate new multi-family housing developments to accommodate the rapid growth of Texas State University.

The city council will hold a workshop on April 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at City Hall to address interim zoning strategies over the next several months while the master plan is being developed.

Park Rules:

The City Council approved an ordinance on first reading on March 20 that would enact a variety of new rules for city-owned parks and greenspaces. The proposed rules would:

  • Ban the public display and consumption of alcohol in city parks
  • Prohibit alcohol on city owned dams, spillways and bridges
  • Ban the use of Styrofoam type products in parks and the river, including coolers, ice chests, cups, plates, toys, floats, kickboards, rings or swim gear. Styrofoam liners used as floatation devices or dock supports are exempt if they are encapsulated by a water-based acrylic or latex coating or within a boat.
  • Prohibit smoking and chewing tobacco in play areas and athletic fields
  • Require  the securing of lids and covers on containers in the San Marcos River
  • Authorize the parks director to establish rules for barbecue pits
  • Prohibit all-terrain vehicles in city park areas that are not improved roadways
  • Prohibit spear guns in the San Marcos River without a permit
  • Increase fines for littering in the San Marcos River to a range of $250 to $500
  • Apply park rules in City natural areas and greenspaces

Following subsequent discussion and community comment on April 3, the City Council agreed to postpone second and final reading until May 1 so that more public input on the rules could be gathered.

Land Development Code/ Smart Code and Architectural Standards

The April 18 workshop will offer the third in a series of meetings to review proposed changes to the Land Development Code which governs development in and around San Marcos. The amendments cover commercial zones, a Hopkins Street Overlay District, the parks and open space ordinance, architectural standards for multi-family residential, and notice procedures.

Updates to the San Marcos SmartCode are also on the drawing board. The SmartCode was adopted in May 2011 covering downtown San Marcos to encourage pedestrian-friendly development, offer a variety of housing options and services, and preserve the unique San Marcos character. The proposed amendments address the rezoning process, certain building heights, mobile vendors and food cart standards, and parking in the Central Business area.

Winter & Company, a planning and design consulting firm recommended by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, has created models of the downtown architectural standards that will be displayed for public input. This is the first meeting where draft standards will be available for review. The standards are anticipated to be presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council in late spring.

The Planning & Zoning Commission also reviewed the Land Development Code amendments at its April 10 meeting and will hold a public hearing at its April 24 regular meeting.

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