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

STAFF REPORT

The San Marcos City Council meets today for the first of two regularly scheduled meetings in December. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Public hearings on proposed developments start at 7 p.m. On the agenda:

• A public hearing on Lazy Oaks Ranch, a proposed residential subdivision on a 1,396-acre former ranch near San Marcos Baptist Academy and the Settlement and Fox Ridge subdivisions. The proposal would allow about 2,500 homes on 847 acres, an average of 1.79 homes per acre. About 525 acres would be designated as conservation open space. Download more information about Lazy Oaks Ranch below the live feed.

• A public hearing and vote on the Retreat at Willow Creek, a planned development district for 101.4 acres on Hunter Road near the Willow Creek subdivision. The landowner, Boerne-based Preferred Development Partners is proposing giving up rights to develop the property as apartments in exchange for single-family homes on 38.88 acres under contract to KB Home and 26.89 acres under contract to D.R. Horton. Download more information about the Retreat at Willow Creek below the live feed.

Downloads

Lazy Oaks council packet material
Lazy Oaks staff memo on development standards
Lazy Oaks letters from the public.
Lazy Oaks map

Retreat at Willow Creek council packet material
Retreat Willow Creek staff memo on development standards
Retreat Willow Creek map

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84 thoughts on “Live Feed: Lazy Oaks Ranch, Retreat at Willow Creek council discussion

  1. Lazy Oaks – Up to 3 houses per acre on the front 400, adjoining existing owners that invested in 1house per 5 or 10 acres. Truly neighborly of the developer…. I guess greed is surely one of the greatest sins, so it appears! 🙂 JLB

  2. It sure was interesting how so many people who didn’t care about our Masterplan started to care about it when a developer proposed to build a huge development in their neighborhood. It’s my hope that these same folks will now engage to protect not only their neigh hood but all neighbors and demand intelligent planning for intelligent growth. While some change is inevitable changing the character of neighborhoods by adding multifamily housing and MF 3 to MF 1 etc is simply not what this community needs. What we need to engage in host communication and reach consensus about where we want medium density, high density single family housing, multi family student housing and traditional neigh hoods.

  3. I agree with you David. A city’s Comprehensive Plan is the most important planning document they have. And too little utilized. It appears to me that people are becoming engaged – and working with each other.

  4. I agree that people need to participate in the master plan process – however many of these same people worked on the old master plan that has been ignored by P&Z. The old plan should remain in place until the new plan has been adopted.

  5. SMsince95, you’re dead wrong. An environmentalist is someone who cares about more than a 6 per cent commission, how much their sales (whether it is coffee, cars, concrete etc) will increase with additional people in town but instead looks for a community that grows in a sensible way. I am sorry that youi didn’t get here until 1995. As such you have missed some of the best years in this community’s long history. I encourage others to recount some of their memories of earlier San Marcos. How about starting swimming in the San Marcos Riber just below the ice hoiuse when it was deep enough to dive off the bridge and three times wider than it is now.

  6. The Settlement/For Ridge sits where it sits. The lots are up to 20 acres. We draw out of the Glen Rose but our conduct would affect the Edwards. It is all about natural features. Should we be the last development west of 35? Of course not, but not a single one as poorly planned and located as this should be allowed.. In my mind the easiest part of getting this deal would be bringing the water. Moving the waste out is the dangerous part and hand in glove with that is protecting the aquifer. There is an excellent reason why this property and others like it don’t develop. Wise stewards of the land, like the Robinson family understood its best use was in agriculture. Wat brought you to San Marcos in 95? Was it the university, outlet mall, public schools etc. just curious.

  7. If I lived in the Settlement I too would probably be using every argument at my disposal to prevent or amend Lazy Oaks. I believe a couple things though. One, any affluent people who can support the kinds of businesses I’d like to see in San Marcos are going to want to live on the west side. Two, development can occur over the aquifer if measures are taken to control run-off. We require it on commercial developments and it could be a part of Lazy Oaks. If we push all the new houses to the east side all we’re going to have is more Camino Real/KB Home subdivisions. We’ll be the low income suburb of Austin/San Antonio.

    I came in 95 for a job.

  8. In defining an environmentalist, the problem is where you stand politically.

    If you are “left” in the political spectrum, you like feel good terms like SMART/sustainable growth and have no problem with government taking the development rights away from owners w/o any compensation (5th Amendment takings). You promote global carbon taxes. You likely also believe Spring Lake being a UN World Heritage site is a good thing.

    If you are to the “right” you tend to believe in rugged individualism and being a good stewart of your own property. You recognize your neighbor’s right to do the same thing. When you see the word “stakeholder” you think of a third party insisting they have a right in your property or you see “sustainable” you think of the Rio Earth Summit.

    I’m sorry if anyone is offended by my comments, my intent is to preserve property rights locally, rather than label people. I believe this community can come up with it’s own solutions and should not rely on “one size fits all” environmental policies, which are dictated down to us from above. Flexibility is key. The question is: “Do we want to set an agenda or follow an existing one?”

  9. Nice try Craig. But maybe you should read your post again. You very much “labeled” people. And it’s fine if rugged individuals want to live outside municipal laws. I have no problem with that. But if so – do NOT ask for city utilities and annexation!

    Craig, Lazy Oaks is NOT being a good steward of the land. To suggest they are with this proposal is to expose your ignorance of the facts.

    It’s called a society for a reason Craig – people living together in an ordered community with shared laws and organizations. But please – feel free to leave for the back country at any time…..

  10. “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.”

    Ayn Rand 1957

  11. SMsince95,
    What do you see as the reason attractive (to the affluent buyers that you mention above) housing communities cannot be built in other areas of town?

  12. Lila-

    My comments were not intended to apply specifically to Lazy Oaks, it was a general premise. One of other posters started the definition of environmentalist thing.

    Your approach seems to be a like or leave it vision that is shared by you and your like minded communitarians.
    Why do continue to suggest I am some kind of anarchist? I believe a basic level of government, based on commonly understood property rights.

    Is there another option that Royalty like yourself could grant a poor peasant like me (who openly disagrees with you) other than banishment?

  13. Craig – since your comments were not about Lazy Oaks – would you agree that not all property owners are going to be good stewards?

    And that it is important to protect the property rights of others from encroachment into their space and their property rights? Is one person’s property rights more important than another’s?

    And if a development, totally unfettered from any laws other than the right to do what you please with your property, resulted in horrendous flooding and loss of property (potentially lives) – who do you think should be responsible? Mother Nature? Fate? Ayn Rand? No one?

    Odd that you would pigeon-hole me as a communitarian and royalty in the same breath. LOL

  14. Cori – I didn’t say they can’t be built on the east side. But looking at the history of development up and down I-35 and the Balcones Fault, people want to live in the hills if they can. I think it’s so they can brag about how many scorpions they find. Right now you see growth on Hwy 306 and in Wimberley. It’s natural that RR 12 would fit that pattern. It has easy access to I-35, proximity to Austin and SA, etc. Ideally we’d get a lot of retirees who would build very expensive homes, pay a lot of school tax and use almost no services. That describes 306 in my experience. I think we need to consider very specific remediation efforts rather than a “one size fits all” limit of 10% impervious cover.

  15. SMsince95—my point exactly. Let the developer build a quality neighborhood not the stuff that is sure to come with this proposal. I said stuff because the only other words that worked were 4 letter words. David Sergi-let me explain one thing that I know that you will understand.. There were public meetings and good luck in San Marcos learning about either through our available media. The developer was told to contact us (the neighborhood) one year ago by Commissioner Conley and he chose not to. It is my understanding that is when the developer started working with City Staff—not the county. The neighborhood did not know about this deal until neighbors heard a highway department type maintainer clearing roads. One of my neighbors and I jumped in a plane and circled overhead seeing what he was doing until the operator drove the maintainer under trees to hide it. You don’t hide unless you’re trying to hide something. ” These are not good potential neighbors…they are environmental thugs. We have been working this since the day we found out about it….prior to this there was discussion that a developer wanted to put large estate homes in, the same thing people have said about this property for years. Never anything more than it might be developed into large acreage with nice homes…….just what everyone says they would like to see. Why then did the ÊTR representative, Tom Rhodes say he wanted 1750 homes, clustered on small very small acreage? Picture The Retreat. That certainly has worked out well. Speaking of which, how long before a college student going to a party at The Retreat, parking on Sierra, gets run over crossing Old RR 12? Just tonight four young students ran across in front of traffic. It really is time for everyone to be included. We live in the county but the City controls the ETJ potentially. All we have asked for is that the developer wait for the comprehensive master plan which is nearing approval. CES

  16. I fail to see the problem with Lazy Oaks, although I must openly confess that I do not live near the property nor do I care if it develops with the 6,426 lots that have been implied…(refer to other posts that reference 4.6 units per acre…Sagewood…and the Retreat). I have a hard time evaluating this project under a logical and common sense approach without seeing the flaws in other arguments that have been made.

    The developer is proposing 1,750 units/lots on 1,397 acres. Basic mathematics says that 1,750 divided by 1,397 is 1.25268432 units per acre. How is this “high density”. I thought that “Very Low Density Residential” allowed up to 3 units per acre. Again…not sure how this is an issue.

    Cluster development has been long known and recognized by numerous reputable organizations as a successful way to preserve open space and the environment. Google search it…conservation development. Just because a developer wants to cluster development doesn’t mean they want to create a Sagewood or a Retreat. I would suggest a plan that takes 100 acres and puts 100 homes (1 unit per acre) on 25 acres of flat, treeless land. Is it better to have those 100 homes on that 25 acres of flat, treeless land (4 units per acre) than to have 1 home on an acre of land with a septic system (that is supposed to be maintained by the property owner)…(especially when the City allows developers to destroy trees within the building footprint and driveway).

    The Retreat…Sagewood…this has been offered up numerous times as what this will be. How can a development with only single family residential structures allowed become equated with a student housing project?!?! Find me another subdivision in San Marcos that doesn’t have other builders involved. Blanco Vista has 6 builders…Cottonwood Creek has 3. What’s the issue with this development.

    Environmental thugs…City staff complimented them on the minimal impact they had when grading their ranch roads. The letter was in the packet. Did they fail to notify the City…yes. Did they do something wrong…no. It says so in the City’s letter and the TCEQ file. To say otherwise would be a false representation.

    So lets wait until the comprehensive plan gets updated…which is coming soon. By whose definition of soon?!?! City staff made presentations to the P&Z and Council that public hearings and decisions on the new Comprehensive Plan would not happen until March or April. What once was January is now March. When will March become June…etc. So let’s shut down the entire City until whenever the comp plan committees decide to do their thing. Is that the right and good thing to do for San Marcos as a whole? Let’s shut down the entire City to appease the interests of a few good men!!

    You Cant’ Handle the Truth…

    Neither can most the people out there…that’s why the facts are the facts and fiction is fiction…

  17. Well said Charles.I don’t think any of us who live in Foxridge are anti-growth per se. In fact IF the developer were planning to put in 5 to 10 acre homesites with $400,000+ homes on them, (which would amount to less than 5% impervious cover btw), and IF the developer had been open and forthright about their plans and IF this were not an extremely environmentally sensitive area and IF this parcel of land were not guaranteed to cause severe flooding in San Marcos at the 40% to 80% impervious cover the developer is asking for and IF the habitat were not considered by professional environmental consultants (who the DEVELOPER hired!) to be prime habitat for multiple federally endangered species… and the IF’s go on and on.

    Speaking as someone who worked for a developer in San Antonio in the 1980’s and who has been involved in developing several Hillcountry ranches the RIGHT way (5-10 acre homesites, strong deed restrictions, well planned roads to preserve trees and landscape, etc) I must say this is the most ill-conceived development I have ever encountered.
    The mere fact the developer thought he could get away with this sort of behaviour speaks not only to his lack of good business sense but to an apparent lack of regard for the people and the community in which they want to insert this travesty of a development. Rapacious greed coupled with shit for brains.

  18. And another thing or two… and I hope the would-be developer reads this: Here’s how you develop a ranch like this, the right way…

    Let’s say you paid $3,000 an acre for the “Lazy Oaks” property back in 2008 or 2009, at the height of the real estate collapse. Good timing there. (I don’t know the actual figure but even if it was twice that, it makes little difference in the final analysis)
    Let’s say also the roadway costs per 400 feet frontage on a 5 acre tract runs $16,000 per tract (that’s about $80 per linear foot of roadway… back in 1984 it cost $60 per foot so this is a wild guess but probably not too inaccurate) . So now your cost per tract is about $31,000. Add another $500 per tract for surveying and engineering etc. Oh heck let’s just say you have out of pocket costs of $32,000 for each 5 acre tract. You should be able to sell 5 acres of raw land in this locale, if you’ve planned a truly “up-scale” development, for about $80,000 to $90,000 which is reasonable if you plan on having true estate homes in the $400,000+ range. And that’s without having to build a single house. Just plan it and do it right and higher-end builders will be all over it. But let’s say you only get $65,000 per tract. So your profit might only be $6 million or so instead of the $20 million you had hoped for… but you know what? We would all go home happy if you did something smart and reasonable like this instead of the breathtakingly foolish and potentially dangerous project you have been trying to sneak under our communty’s radar.
    Mark my words: You will NOT prevail. We will fight you at every level from City Council to working with US Fish and Wildlife (you will NOT enjoy having USFW breathing down your necks) to community protests, online campaigns and the employment of every form of legal impediment and obstacle to your plans we can devise. I promise this.
    Do the right thing and the smart thing and don’t fight this fight.

  19. Where was this concern that so many are showing here for the sensitivity of this land back when they were buying *their* homes there??? I guess we are all to do as they say, not as they do?

  20. To “IDK…WTF”:

    There is almost 500 acres or so of land that is in the floodway and flood plain that cannot be built on. Then there is land for a park, detention ponds, and streets. Do the math again. This is NOT a low density project. But by using the gross acreage, it “appears” to be. Smoke and mirrors.

    And staff specifically said – more than once – that this is an extremely sensitive site.

  21. Seriously Dano. Are you really that blind. You can’t tell the difference between a development with 3 homes per acre versus one in which there is ONE home per 10 acres? It’s all about leaving a small footprint on the land in environmentally-sensitive areas.

    And for the record, the developers originally proposed 2,500 homes!

  22. Allowing speculators once again to utilize San MArcos taxpayers money to provide wastewater and water services for Lazy Oaks, is like me going to Vegas with a strangers money! This cart in front of the horse mentality is a fools folly. I asked the planning and developement department to share what their estimates were for the construction of the water and wastewater service and also the preliminary routing locations on a map,along with any analysis availablke from TCEQ and The Edwards Aquifer people on these issues. I did this by email on 12-4-2012, and have no answers yet. I will now proceed to an open records request, as this is the proper legal way to divine the truth on any topic of interest. I suggest any that are concerned about the detrimental impacts of this proposed project do the same. In the light of day the follies of darkness shall be illuminated for all to see. Happy Friday All 🙂 jlb

  23. @ IDK-WTF…. Some things are important enough to proceed with extreme caution and due diligence, especially when they impact the future of our water resources and the legal rights of other citizens that will be directly impacted. Will pro-developement advocates only be appeased when our pristine river is tuirned into a lifeless water feature like The San Antonio River, the lower Comal,etc ? In reality, might I ask, who overtly by all appearances does not possess the capacity TO HANDLE THE TRUTH? Try beginning with being open about who you are, and use your real name, or is that TOO TRUTHFUL FOR YA? 🙂 JLB

  24. Oh WTF, why do we care who it is. It’s obviously someone who has already made or is about to make up his mind and he said it best when he said IDK.

  25. The scope of the project isn’t the point – as mentioned before, cluster development has been shown to be a very effective strategy in areas taht are environmentally sensitive.

    The point is that now that some people have their nice multi-acre home tracts on this land, they don’t want anything else near them unless (as admitted above) it’s the kind of development that will increase their home values significantly.

    It smacks of hypocrisy to have a home on the very land that you’re now claiming is too sensitive to develop any further….it’s a classic NIMBY argument.

    If Soechting, et al, want me to take their arguments about how much they care for the land seriously, they should first abandon their own use of it. Otherwise, it sounds to me like they just don’t want them “po’ folk” around.

  26. Dano, it is apparent that you are not familiar with the topography, geography or the neighborhoods adjoining Lazy Oaks. First, we sit well above Lazy Oaks. Second, we do not have the same features as this property. Third, that is why this property has not developed. Fourth, Lazy Oaks has been telling people whatever they thought people wanted to hear to get this deal this far. BTW, the promises are mostly inconsistent when compared. As to our objection, if you knew anything about this you would know why we are unhappy with the proposal. It is a crappy plan. You ought to understand that we are a mixed neighborhood, some large homes, some small homes, but all homes. This is so typical of people trying to divert the subject from what this is all about….protecting the environment and the Edwards Aquifer. Judgmental attacks are useless. Think about what you just said…I don’t want anything around me unless it makes my property more valuable. Are you nuts??? I want to pay my fair share of taxes but I definitely do not want my property to be increased in value. I want my property values as low as possible. Yes, I have what some might call a large home (which BTW, was built with our rock, recycled woods from a school in Belmont, beams from the First Baptist Church…in other words, it is a very green house) but our neighbor is a small ranch style home and they are wonderful friends and neighbors. Across the street, same story, down the road same stories. We are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and some others. We are, however, united, Partner, don’t even try to pull this class business on me…It won’t work. You don’t even have the courage to use your name. As long as you remain anonymous you have zero credibility to talk about this. I find it amusing that you and IDK…WTF (I Don’t Know…What the F*#k )have all the answers to problems that are not yours but no courage to even state your name. I cannot even imagine living in your world. The really sad part is that unless you are a shill for a developer or a realtor you will never realize any reward for carrying the water for the Lazy Oaks bunch, water of yours that they would most likely pollute.

  27. Curious isn’t it how those opposed to this fiasco of a development are all using their real names while those favoring it are not.

  28. The use of real names or a pseudonym should not matter. This issue has been addressed many, many, oh so many times on the Mercury.
    Lazy Fox residents, I completely understand your cause and the reasons you don’t want development in the sensitive recharge zone. I understand the reasons no one should support more semi-high development in the recharge zone. Unfortunately, current citizens of San Marcos have been fighting this battle with P&Z and City Council for years. Now it’s in your neighborhood….and you care. Good for you.

    I often only read (without commenting) and rarely agree with SMsince95 and Dano. But this time, they have semi-valid points. How vocal you are when it’s your neighborhood.

    Don’t expect many people to join your fight. Where were you when people “downstream” protested against development? Lucky y’all. You bought property and take care of the land without applying pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Unfortunately, your protest smacks of “elitism”. Too late and too bad.

    What happens to our neighborhoods when we opposed rezoning based on environmental reasons? Where were you when we opposed rezoning or medium-to-high density development on natural landscapes? Is the land next to your fence more valuable than the land next to our fence?
    Thanks for showing up, but don’t expect all of us to fight the fight that’s been going on forever. We’re tired of fighting for our “downstream” dreams and some of us have no energy left to fight for your 5 acres or 20 acre happiness.

    Lila Knight had the best (and in my opinion) only valid argument of the evening. The rest of you: you claimed “environment” in lieu of stating: “I don’t want to live IN San Marcos, and I DON’T want people nearby” We understand. Next time, stand up for the people “downstream” and not when it’s in your backyard.

  29. Jumbopop, I reread the comments. Nobody on our side has asked for help. Would we accept it? Sure, but for now we are working thru the process that was well hidden for a long time.

  30. If things are ever going to change in San Marcos, it will take a number of people to make that difference. I don’t understand why people are challenging motives based on this ridiculous “NIMBY” thing. As I stated before, the first people accused of being NIMBYs were the people of Love Canal. And their efforts resulted in regulations that have benefited us all. Was that a bad thing?

    The point is – the people of this neighborhood are now engaged. And will probably stay engaged. Unless, of course, they are pushed away.

    It’s very much like a river at flood level – that keeps picking up things and dragging them along as it roars on down.

    Would some of you rather be martyrs and try to do it all by yourselves? Or are these anonymous posts by people who would sow internal conflict because it benefits their self-interests?

    Let’s stop calling each other names and focus more on working together to protect the aquifer and our water resources. And quite frankly, I don’t care who wants to pitch in and help!

  31. So now we’re elitists? I’ve never been called that before. (Heck I won’t even buy an Apple product because of their elitist attitude.)

    So who says we haven’t opposed other developments downstream? I know I have but I can’t vote on city issues because I’m not a city resident. Personally I was very much opposed to the development that took place at Craddock and RR12 known lovingly as The Retreat. How about the eyesore of a development at Holland and N LBJ? Were the San Marcans who oposed these developments elitits? Did you do your best to stop these developments? Are you an elitist too? Am I an elitist for pointing out the very significant risk of flooding due to excessive impervious cover? After all, it’s not MY home or property at risk, it’s the folks who live downstream. Perhaps your home. Is it elitist to voice concern over the risk to your drinking water? Again, it’s not MY drinking water. We draw from the Glen Rose, not the Edwards. Is it elitist to point out the negative impact on several federally endangered species? How about the massive increase in traffic on RR12 from 8,000 cars a day to a projected 18,000? How elitist of me to wonder how many people will die as a result of doubling then the traffic on a road that has already claimed many lives.
    Are we elitists to oppose such a massive development in our backyard? If so, then any citizens of San Marcos who are likewise opposed to this fiasco are deserving of the same label because on the other side of this development is San Marcos’ backyard. 4,000 new neighbors living cheek by jowl in their three-homes-per-acre subdivision. Welcome to yet another small town ruined by rampant, ill-conceived development.

  32. Wastewater, water, these two formidable issues should be at the forefront of this argument, as they are the essential PROMISES our current city leaders are selling to a speculator at the cost of environment, taxes, and wanton disregard for adjoining neighbors, etc. I want to see the numbers, the ecological evaluations( not from the developers people) and how this can actually be justified! Our infrastructure is and has been for years woefully insufficient to support massive knee-jerk additions to the systems. The lacking of vision in elected officials ( Guerrero, Conley, Neuse,and city council ) is reaching a boiling point in my book. The land grab mentallity, for the sake of projected tax revenues promised by outside financial interests, that obviously don’t give a damn about the quality of life residents expect to be maintained, must and shall be collared by citizens of all political persuasions and social-economic origins.The cumalitive energy of these voices can and must allign themselves if we are to counter the forces that, if allowed, would forever change the landscape of our community. Call me what you like, I actually have only one dog in this hunt, to maintain resonable protections of my homestead and that of my friends and neighbors, plain and simple. I have personally jeopordized, and undoutedly sacrificed, potential income from entities that I have stood against in this past year, doing what my heart and spirit moved me to do, not to mention contributing literally thousands of dollars for the cause. Why? Because dear, I do give a damn, and will passionately continue to with each and every breath I take! Happy Saturday 🙂 jlb

  33. TO ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS. PLEASE SEE ALL THE FEDERALLY MANDATED REPORATIONS FOR PAST DEVELOPMENT MISTAKES THAT THE CITY OF AUSTIN IS NOW BEING FORCED TO SUBSIDIZE AT THE TAXPAYERS EXPENSE. WATERSHED/ CREEK REPORATIONS RUN AROUND 1 MILLION PER MILE, MORE IN SENSTIVE AREAS, ETC. F.Y.I. 🙂 JLB

  34. Interesting issue and interesting comments. Mom and Dad (R.I.P.) built in the Settlement in the late 1970s on five acres. Daddy really liked St. Augustine grass and a couple of decades after drilling their domestic well, drilled a deep well just for watering his grass. Some fifteen so so years ago it got so dry that many homeowners in the Settlement and Foxridge experienced water shortages to the extent that many had to lower their wells. A Foxridge neighbor stopped by one afternoon and confronted Dad about the water he was pumping to maintain his grass. Dad exclaimed, “You are right! It is none of your business” and invited the neighbor to take a drink out his irrigation hose. Whereupon he did partake, spit the water out and said “Ppptuuii!” It was sulphur water, great for grass but expensive to treat for domestic purposes. Sooo, the biggest long term threat to all of you who remain in this region is WATER, supply and quality. If any of you allow development of substantial acreage without causing the developer to provide potable water to the area of his project at his expense, you are dumber than dirt. Good luck to all. WRH

  35. Yes, but the developer’s minions have used the threat that “we’ll develop to county standards I.e. 1 home every 6 acres with septic.” Those that know this area know that the water there is very bad, just what Bill Haney described. SMsince95, no one in our neighborhood suffers from elitism as some have suggested. We are as varied in every way as you could every imagine. What we have failed to properly convey is that no one out here knew about this project until October 3 when we heard the heavy machinery at work. I’m glad you came here in 95 for a job. We need more people who want to invest their lives in our community. What we don’t need is another Retreat, Sagewood or North LBJ/Holland project. Have a good one.

  36. I didn’t realize the developer was using a 6 acre lot size as a THREAT.
    That’s like a bank robber putting a gun to his own head and saying, “Hand over the money or I’ll shoot!”

    That tells me they CAN, in theory, make a profit following County standards and all they’re trying to do is squeeze as much money out of this project as they can at our expense and the expense of city residents.

    Of course they may run into difficulties when some of the wells the new lot owners drill produce unlimited amounts of clean Edwards water and others produce 2 or 3 gallons a minute of water unfit to drink. The geology is unpredictable in this area, to say the least. They’ll have to install rainwater capture systems then, which is a good idea anyhow.
    In fact, rainwater systems should be required on all new home construction if only to use for lawn watering. That can reduce household consumption by 50% or more. But I digress.

  37. In theory, but look at what it would take. Much higher lot prices. Cost of a well, and/or a rainwater collection system, cost of a septic system. Their market just shrunk. A lot.

  38. I guess that’s where the disconnect is in my mind. The developer claims this is going to be a very high end development but somehow they will be at a disadvantage by selling more expensive lots of larger acreage? In my mind a “higher end” development is one with homes above $400,000, so if someone wanted to build a home of that value would they not prefer it to be on a larger lot of several acres? It seems the developer is telling people whatever he thinks they want to hear. Like when they first tried to sell the property to the County touting its extreme environmental and endangered species value and then when the County declined they turn around and ask to build three homes per acre.
    Too bad the County didn’t step up to the plate and buy the property. It would have made a wonderful addition to our park system and served as perpetual buffer against development.

  39. Well, it is NIMBY pure and simple no matter ho much Lila might want to think otherwise and trying to peg the acronym as derisive is an old, withered argument. Get with it today Lila and make sense.

  40. Mr. Sargent, that’s an issue we all have with “developers” they will say anything to anyone so long as it lines their pocket. Doing a “high end development” means taking time, and it doesn’t cash flow well for a while. Doesn’t work if you are short on capital.

    And before some of you post it; I’m all for capitalism, in fact, I’m all for really good developments, and even know some real developers.

    And Intrepid, something is always in someones back yard; doesn’t make their concerns or comments any less valid, just like you and me not using our “real” names does not affect their validity.

  41. So the problem at first was purportedly with high density, but now we learn that you don’t really want multi-acreage sites there either. Keep going guys, you’ll eventually end up where I knew you would all along.

    Do us all a favor, quit hiding behind your faux environmentalist arguments and your fake concern for “the community of San Marcos”, and just admit that you don’t want anyone else to be able to live out there next to you.

    I might not agree with your message at that point, but at least I could respect your honesty.

  42. Funding infrastructure for speculators is an old tired ploy, have them pay up front for the catastrophic cost impacts of providing wqastewater service to their ” High Density” single family vision and see how far it gets. This game has been played over and over for decades now, see who benifits in the end game! Not to mention the environmental impacts, etc. 🙂 jlb

  43. San Marcos has the highest impact fees allowed by state law. Furthermore, extending infrastructure is what cities do. San Marcos needs to annex out RR12 to bring in some of that high value property. Maybe that’s a concern of Foxtail/Settlement – that they are next for involuntary annexation. Lastly, at 3 units per acre on the most dense portion this is not “High Density”. I’m not saying I support this development but let’s at least be honest.

  44. One thing, I think, is clear. If the City Council votes to approve Lazy Oaks development as currently configured, they will vote to flood the City they represent and to pollute the water they drink. Both of these outcomes are inevitable. Its not a matter of if, but when.

  45. It’s all a series of balancing acts.

    Large lot vs small lot. Amount of impervious ground cover. ROI. Build out time. Environmental engineering. Well or waterline. Sewer or septic system. Master plan or ad hoc. Compliance or variance.

    Will this property be developed? At some point in time certainly it will. By whom, how and when are different questions.

    It appears to me that there is a fair bit of disinformation going out on both pro and anti development sides. Would be nice if we could make an actual informed decision on this.

  46. Per the packet provided to council linked in the article the development agreement restricts the developer to an overall density of 1.79 units per acre and a maximum allowable impervious cover of 20%.

    I question the wisdom of having only one road in and out for many years. The packet shows “future connections” but I doubt if those roads will be build any time soon. I’d be nervous about being trapped if there ever was to be a wildfire.

    The road in is nearly a mile before you get to the first section. Presumably this will be a city street built by the developer to city spec. I’d want to be sure it was properly built as it will take a lot of traffic including heavy concrete trucks as homes are built.

    As to flooding, I just don’t see it. All the water runs into Purgatory Creek and we have that big flood control dam down close to Hunter Road.

  47. The % of impervious cover is a floating number, depending on final platting, etc. The problem with developement agreements and PDDs, etc,is that there is a undetrmined factual picture, and they can be re-designed after approval, leaving many changes to be made by the city staff and the developer, void of any further public scrutiny. Also, this particular speculator will have an extremely valuable card is their pocket if the citizens of San Marcos are committed by our elected officials( Including County Commissioners ) to providing services, you could see a much different picture when it is actually built out someday. And, what if all this speculation leaves us with a similiar scenario that the taxpayers of Austin were cursed with during their land-rush boom years ago, CIRCLE C anyone? 🙂 jlb

  48. The latest changes to the development plan now call for TWO homes per acre on half of the 500 acres west of Purgatory Creek, instead of just one house per acre. See how they do this? They are not to be trusted.
    I sense desperation. Why else would they be squeezing this as hard as they can?

  49. Funny isn’t it how the majority of the anonymous posters won’t actually come out in favor of the development. Instead they just bash those who oppose it.

  50. SM, one way in means more property to sell, less road to build; makes perfect sense to the Seller. Stubbed out roads are very rarely put in. So we agree, not a real good idea, definite safety hazard. But it can be advertised as no thru traffic.

  51. No taxpayer funded wastewater and water, no developement, easy as that. I find it quite amusing that no projected design, path, environmental impact and cost impact of the wastewater service appears to be available from those that that are tasked (San Marcos Planning and Developement Dept. ) with this project. You would think that this would be a critical factor in approvong or denying this plan. Have the speculator put the money up for this in advance, what a novel idea, it is actually done this way in some municipalities.The engineering alone will be a handsome amount of money $$$$$$. Hmmmm.. 🙂 jlb

  52. From the Development Agreement posted in this article –

    1.05 Public Infrastructure Improvements
    A. The City hereby agrees to allow the extension of City water and wastewater facilities… The property owner/developer shall be responsible for the payment of all costs
    associated with the extension of infrastructure required to properly serve the development of
    the Property.

    I’m tickled at the use of the word “Speculator”. I guess “developer” wasn’t perjorative enough. I prefer to use the word “investor”. Reading the development agreement it sounds like a pretty nice project.

  53. @SMsince 95… You’re right. The term “developer” is not perjorative enough. The term “carpetbagger” is somewhat dated but accurate. These are indeed speculators from outside our community who thought they could scoop up a piece of land at a discount, which they did, and quickly flip it to the County, which they didn’t. Now they’re stuck so they want to develop it no matter the impact or cost to our community and some, but not all, of our local leaders are falling all over themselves to make it happen. Ain’t gonna happen though, sorry.

  54. I’m not hearing compelling arguments yet. Many of the claims of the opposition are contradicted in the Development Agreement. But, like I said before, if it was my back yard I’d be fighting it just as hard or harder.

  55. I guess in this city one can agree to an unknown financial committment and everyone just smiles and says ” yes Mr Speculator, what ever works for you”. There are many factors that have not even been determined, so, how in the world can we truly know what the cost impacts are??? Other than generic footage estimates, which do not take into consideration some of the most daunting environmental challenges in central Texas, perhaps even the the entire state of Texas, please, give me a break here(SM95). We would not even be having this discussion if the proposed project were in fact a more palatable, compatible and environmentally minded design. Once again, apparently the existing residents are not even equated into the speculators formula. 3 houses per acre, I think that is what I see on the way to Austin, humanoids living within spitting distance of each other in roof-top cities, New Urbanism I believe they call it, dense and tight, Agenda 21 anyone (Matthew Lewis). 🙂 jlb

  56. For comparison, Holland/Ridgeway/Chestnut is 2.55 unit/acre measured to center of street. Lisa/Ramona is 3.87 units/acre. Some people like to live that close together. I look at these online discussions as a real learning opportunity so I appreciate the dialogue. The more specific the objections the better I can understand folks concerns.

  57. Many homes in the Holland, Ridgeway, Chestnut, Hillcrest area are actually on multiple lots, many add up to over an acre. I purposefully bought and replatted 3 lots on west Hillcrest into a 1.1 acre lot to keep them from being over-developed, etc. This is where the rubber hits the pavement, I doubt that you would see this in the Lazy Oaks scenario. 🙂 jlb

  58. Because I am interested in rainwater collection for my new place some 75 miles from San Marcos (I can hardly wait!), the cost for tanks, gutters, installation, is $1.00 per gallon. I have a friend and broadcaster from Dripping Springs who installed 50,000 gallons of storage capacity some twelve years ago. Todays cost: about $50,000.

    He lives alone and with the recent dry years, he still had to drill a well in order to insure that he did not run dry. He got very low last year in his rainwater collection tanks and did not need to resort to his well. He is okay now based on the meagerly wet spring and summer here. But his tanks are still not full. This gentleman is single, two dogs and 14 chickens. Our climate is apparently getting drier than the short period of time ago when this broadcaster made his own long term plans.

    The point to this narrative–a developer would need to install at least $50,000 of rainwater collection no matter what size of lot and drill a well with all of the attendent equipment. This area appear to be getting drier and may last for decades? Otherwise, the cost of any size of lot would not make sense to any prudent residential lot purchaser given other available projects–the beauty of that land appeals to me but may not to the typical Houstonite or Austite.

    Soon, one reaches a point that it is more economical to buy land or a house elsewhere where availability and expense of water is not so limiting.

    So, this project should collapse under its own weight–bad and limited ground (well) water, expensive and limited rain water collection, expensive surface water from Lake Dunlap, through GBRA, through San Marcos, then piped out there.

    Those persuaded similarly to me might need to bind together to inform potential land buyers to all the risks involved in buying out there.

    Again, good luck to all!

  59. Sorry Mr. Haney, I’m calling BS on this one. While the vast majority of lenders won’t make a loan on a home with rainwater collection only, the technology works. My homes footprint isn’t that big, total square footage of the house, not the footprint is 1700 square feet. I can collect water w/o a rain event, dew only. If your friend had an even remotely well planned system they would be fine. I personally know at least a dozen homes that are rainwater only, they have not had to have a drop brought in the last ten years.

  60. If however your point is that water is one of the highest priority issues a potential landowner should take into consideration; I agree.

    A well, which may have to be redrilled after your neighbors drill, rainwater collection, the additional cost of “city” water, all come to bear. Just part of the development equation. And of course, cost.

    But few comments here have been focused on the cost to the purchaser. Personally, it’s not where I’m putting investment dollars.

  61. Your friend may have misspent their money. Too much filtration/purification, not enough collection or storage. Or perhaps has not taken water management into consideration. When one uses a rainwater collection system they very soon become aware of their consumption, and manage accordingly.

  62. As a custom home builder who has done a number of sole source rainwater collection systems, I have to agree with Winchester. I have a client in that same general area with a 4,000+ SF home and sole source rainwater collection. They have a 26,000 gallon tank and only 2 people but they have never ran out of water, even during the worst drought in history a couple summers ago. If a rainwater collection system is properly designed, it can be the sole source of water for a home with great results. Also, there is no need to drill a well with a RWCS. If you do happen to run low on water, one call and you can have water delivered MUCH cheaper than you can drill a well.

  63. The high cost of RWC is the filtration/purification system, in may experience. I’ve seen one such system that ran $30K, multiple filters, UV, oxygenation, etc etc. For a hospital, perhaps, but not for a home.

    My system for the garden and animals is very simple. Gutters with leaf guards, downspout leading to tank with a valve. OK that’s for the garden and animals, but the cost was nothing.

    Would also add that putting in a grey water system is a very good idea. Again, simple and cheap.

  64. A stray thought:

    Reading through all these comments it just strikes me that you don’t realize that there is a population of people that don’t want a large lot to take care of. Lot’s of families with two proffessionals or a single parent homes, kids in sports and activities, etc don’t have the time or inclination to take care of an acre lot. They are perfectly content to live in a home that is on a quarter or 1/3 of an acre with very little yard. Nothing wrong with that and does not automatically mean that a development is a bad development.

  65. That’s the problem Brady….those who live nearby don’t want that kind of development close to them. It’s not enough for them to have chosen their particular style of homestead – they want to dictate how their neighbors down the road live too.

  66. Again Dano, you paint a false picture.

    While it is certainly true that those of us in Foxridge and The Settlement don’t want a development the size of Wimberley and Johnson City combined right next to our subdivision, we suspect the majority of San Marcos residents don’t want it either. They and we don’t want it for a multitude of reasons and none of them involve our interest in how others live. It is simply too many homes in too concentrated of an area with the area in question being directly over the recharge zone for the aquifer from which San Marcos drinks.

    The doubling or tripling of traffic on RR12 is another concern as is conveyence and disposal of sewage from this massive development.

    Then we have a little thing called the Endangered Species Act and its relation to multiple endangered animals on this land, as pointed out in their original sales pitch when they tried to sell this property to Hays County.

    Another major concern is potential for flooding due to the amount of impervious cover the developer has requested (40% to 80%).

    If you want to try to paint us all as elitists, which is laughable, go ahead. The true and undeniable issues of concern over this fiasco of a development still remain.

  67. Jeff – What is the basis for the 40% to 80% impervious cover you’re citing versus the 20% impervious cover allowed in the Development Agreement?

  68. Whether it’s for Lazy Acres or anywhere else, the city, county or state (or all three) should provide incentives for people to incorporate rainwater collection and graywater use in their new homes.

    I even read of a system that captures your home’s graywater (from sinks, showers, dishwasher and clothes washer), filters it and then routes it to the toilet for use there. The remaining graywater is used to water ornamental landscaping, with rainwater irrigating food gardens and animals.

    Whether a well is drilled or not, we should be encouraging systems like this in new construction from today forward, especially with the cycles of drought that are predicted for the years to come.

  69. It was sadly funny, at the Retreat,that they were so greedy for maximizing their square footage that the structures do not even have driveways, why waste precious impervious cover limitations on driveways, they can just park in the street, and the adjoining neighborhoods! Beware of shifting numbers, the end result may not be anything like it was “speculated” to be in the beginning! 🙂 jlb

  70. Brady I agree with you, there is a large market that doesn’t want large lots, or for that manner, any landscape maintenance. I’m fine with that. Not everyone like IPAs, some like stouts. Taste varies.

    However (always a however) doing a small lot development means either a lot of impervious groundcover, or a sizable amount of land left undeveloped. Both options have issues. The first, runoff and traffic. The second, cost to the purchaser. Again, it’s all a balancing act.

    Personally, I’ve got a chunk of land, and the only thing I actually maintain is my garden. Mother Nature takes care of the rest.

  71. SMsince95: Pages 4 and 5 of the Development Agreement Impervious Cover Maximums of between 40% and 80%. This conflicts with page 9 where it states maximum gross impervious cover will not exceed 20%. We may assume the developer is averaging the 0% impervious cover of the upper preserve section against the lower sections which have the 40% to 80% maximums. Yet, even if you do this averaging you are still well above 20%. So perhaps the developer is claiming they will stay under 20% impervious cover in the aggregate because some of the lower develped land (about 900 acres) is unsuitable for building due to slope or terrain so that will be 0% as well. But then you do the math and divide 1750 homes by 900 acres and you still get about 2 homes per acre and if each home is alloted just 40% impervious cover you end up with about 360 acres of impervious cover. So you tell me… what exactly IS the developer asking for in this Development Agreement? The numbers don’t add up by any math I am familiar with. Maybe they’re using Imaginary Numbers?

  72. Jeff, since you have some experience in the world of development you must know that’s how it’s calculated – the impervious cover of the entire project. It’s why cluster development is allowed and encouraged. I’m still not hearing any good solid reasons why this is such a bad development. Is there something about Preferred Development Partners that isn’t being said here?

  73. SM- I know that’s how it’s calculated. What I’m saying is the numbers still don’t add up no matter how you do the calculation, based on the number of homes the developer is wanting.

  74. The reasons given for this being such a bad development are substantial and numerous and have been stated multiple times. In the developer’s OWN WORDS this property is more suitable for a nature preserve than anything else, let alone a huge development like this. It was only when the county declined to buy it that the developer did an about face and decided to develop the property. That’s all I know or need to know about these guys. Carpetbaggers.

  75. It’s a not new “investment” technique. There is another property, very environmentally sensitive, where the opposite will be used. Instead of offering it first to a governmental entity, they will threaten to develop it, in order to facilitate either a governmental purchase or conservation easement.

    No comment on whether or not either technique is ethically valid. Just that they exist.

  76. Perhaps you guys don’t understand impact fees. If the city allows building a huge set of pipelines that have to be rocksawed, blasted, dug and jackhammered into the sensitive karst limestone of the recharge zone, for miles to get to this site, then the city has to maintain these lines, with all the special requirements of EAA and TCEQ. The impact fees, however large you may think they are, only cover half the cost. Developer lobbyists at the Legislature make sure there is that 50% limit. There is nothing in this development agreement that guards against lift stations malfunctioning and overflowing, no special containment, no extra liners with alarms on pipelines of raw sewage. Our city has the option of not developing our recharge zone with these dense types of “city” subdivisions. Yes, the county regs allow a less dense type of development for those who are willing to go with rainwater collection. That is a much better option, in my view.

  77. So there seems to be a definite misunderstanding about the numbers involved in the agreement. As I read it, there is a maximum of 1,750 units allowed to be developed on the property. Also, the developer could cluster smaller lots in the less sensitive areas and preserve the remaining of the property. (Not sure what’s wrong with that…) Further the developer can only put a maximum of 3 units per acre on the area closest to the Settlement (371 acres). So that’s a maximum of 1,113 (371 X 3) homes. Now let’s hypothetically say they build all of those homes on 1/4 acre lots clustered together. That will result in the use of 278.25 acres (1,113 X .25). So the remaining 92.75 acres remains undeveloped because they have maxed out their units in this area. I know there will be some additional land for streets but say it’s another 25 acres. Still leaves 67.75 acres undeveloped. That doesn’t seem too bad. More dense than the Settlement, yes. But “high density”, not hardly. High density as defined in the Comprehensive Master Plan is 18 units per acre and greater. Very low density is defined as 0-3 units per acre. Low density is defined as 0-6 units per acre. So the 4 units per acre (1/4 acre lots) would be defined as “Low Density Residential”.

    That takes care of density so let’s look at impervious cover. If all the 1/4 acre lots are built with 50% impervious cover, that would result in 139.125 (278.25 X .5) acres of impervious cover, plus the 25 acres for streets results in 164.125 acres of impervious cover. Now, the total impervious cover allowed on the site is 279.2 acres (1396 X .2). So they just used 164.125 acres of impervious cover on the 371 acres. Now they only have 115.075 acres of impervious cover left to use on the remaining 566 acres.

    I will openly profess that I’m not a developer so I have no clue how much acreage the streets will take. However, common sense says that smaller lots will require less footage of street (50 foot wide lot vs. 100 foot wide lot for example).

    As I see it, the numbers are an either/or situation. Either the density…or the impervious cover. If they use up all their density putting in a small lot product, they’ll run out of lots and be stuck with undevelopable land. If they use up all their impervious cover on a small lot product, they’ll be stuck with a bunch of land that can’t be developed. Seems like it’s not shifty, just flexible. But the maximums are maximums and can be enforced.

    So the property was proposed to the County as part of the RHCP mitigation. But the bottom line is the County didn’t buy it. So does that mean a property owner doesn’t have a right to develop it now. Seems to me both options have been available the entire time. I’m sure if the City or another entity approached the developer to buy it, they’d be open to negotiating that. The City bought a piece of property down stream adjacent to the purgatory creek greenspace for $15,000 an acre (Barker Tract). Seems like fair market value has been established.

    One could argue that it might be better to build a giant apartment complex at the maximum 24 units per acre on 73 acres (that’s the 1,750 units divided by 24 units per acre) of the property and the rest of the property (over 1,300 acres) would be preserved as undeveloped open space. Conversely, build it to County standards and have 6 acre lots with a well and septic on each lot. That’s 1,750 wells whose pumping is basically unregulated and 1,750 septics that will be owned and privately maintained. Is it better for the City to have a couple of lift stations and miles of pipe that they own and maintain or leave it to the individual property owners. I guess the argument of what is better is in the eye of the beholder.

    However this property develops, the developer (and the market) will determine how this subdivision builds out with each final plat (thanks Jaime Breihan for pointing out the process) which will also include the detailed environmental studies and other engineering items which have to be approved by the City. As Councilmember Thomason rightly pointed out, the approval of this development agreement doesn’t guarantee anything other than the right to submit another application and go through the process.

    I haven’t seen the latest rendering showing 2 units per acre as Mr. Sargent has indicated. I’d like to know where that came from…but I digress.

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