|Travis Kelsey: Yes||Bill Taylor: Yes|
|Angie Ramirez: Yes||Chris Wood: Yes|
|Kenneth Ehlers: Yes||Corey Carothers: Yes|
|Curtis Seebeck: Yes||Randy Bryan: Yes|
|Carter Morris: Abstain|
San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission members on Tuesday unanimously rejected San Antonio developer Darren Casey’s vision for a landmark retail and residential complex across Sessom Drive from Texas State University.
With planning commissioner Carter Morris abstaining and absent from the dais, all eight of his colleagues voted to recommend denial of a planned development district that would have encompassed about ten of 14 acres Casey has had under contract for well over a year. The commission then voted, with commissioner Chris Wood dissenting, to deny Casey’s request that the city abandon a bundle of streets and undeveloped alleyways he needed to build his project.
“It doesn’t fit the master plan. To me, that’s the end of it. We have two different master plans and it doesn’t fit either one. So how can you support it?” planning commissioner Travis Kelsey said after moving to deny Casey’s PDD request.
Unless Casey pulls his requests from further consideration, the planned development district will still advance to the San Marcos City Council but its approval will now require a supermajority — six of seven council members — to override the planning commission’s negative recommendation.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, commissioners said opponents had raised sufficient questions about additional auto traffic on an already overloaded Sessom Drive; the encroachment on nearby neighborhoods such as Ridgeway/Hillcrest; and the environmental impact on the San Marcos River, the headwaters of which are less than a mile away from the hilltop site.
Citing contradictory engineers’ reports from Casey’s representatives and from the San Marcos River Foundation, planning commissioner Curtis Seebeck said he was not going to risk giving his approval to a development that could cause environmental harm to Sessom Creek, the rivers’ uppermost tributary.
“I’ve been swimming in that river since I was a kid. I’m not willing to flip a coin and take a gamble on who’s right. I’m going to err on the side of caution,” Seebeck said.
Casey‘s supporters, including Winstead P.C. attorney Steve Drenner and former State Rep. Patrick M. Rose, told commissioners that their choice was not between the property as it exists now and Casey’s proposed showcase development but between Casey’s proposed showase and a 48-lot subdivision called Sessom Court comprised of tightly spaced single-family homes likely to become college rentals. The planning commission approved the preliminary plat for that project last March.
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COVER: San Marcos Planning & Zoning commissioners listen to James Garber, a Texas State anthropology professor who has led opposition to Darren Casey’s plans for a high-end retail/residential complex on Sessom Drive, during their May 14 meeting. On May 28, the panel voted unanimously to recommend denial of a planned development district that would have allowed for the five-floor, Mediterranean-style complex. Planning commissioners pictured are, left to right, Chair Bill Taylor, Angie Ramirez, Randy Bryan, Travis Kelsey and Kenneth Ehlers. SAN MARCOS MERCURY PHOTO by JON SHAPLEYEmail | Print