by BRAD ROLLINS
At a specially called meeting Tuesday afternoon, the San Marcos City Council gave its final go-ahead, finally, for changes to a development agreement that allows H-E-B to complete its purchase of about 17 acres at the southeast corner of Interstate 35 and McCarty Lane.
After months of negotiations between City Hall and Dallas-based Stratford Land Co., the city council suddenly and unexpectedly balked during its last regular meeting on May 21. Two weeks after they approved the development agreement unanimously, council members voted to postpone consideration of an amended McCarty Commons Planned Development District that included changes Stratford sought to accommodate H-E-B.
Approved unanimously on second reading at the May 28 special meeting, the updated agreement includes adjustments Stratford wanted on behalf of H-E-B — the rights to operate a check cashing window inside its store, build an automated car wash, use more signage than would have been allowed, etc — to the 2009 version of the agreement that created the McCarty Commons district.
At the May 21 meeting, council member John Thomaides questioned whether Stratford, or the property’s future owner, would be held to municipal development codes that place some of the burden of funding related public works on the developer.
The Mercury reported in a story published the next morning that Thomaides wanted Stratford to build all four lanes of a planned extension of Texas 21 where it would cross the McCarty Commons property, about 2,000 linear feet’s worth. Thomaides protested in a phone call to this reporter and in the Mercury’s comment section that he was not pressing to make the developer pay for more than two lanes of the road, as the agreement states. Thomaides was concerned, he said, about how soon the developer could be required to construct the two lanes for which it is responsible under the agreement.
[At the May 21 meeting, City Manager Jim Nuse, Development Services director Matthew Lewis and city council member Shane Scott all pointed out at different times that the agreement requires Stratford to donate right-of-way and allows the city to assume ownership of the right-of-way pretty much on-demand (with 90 days notice). In addition, the city can build the road without further obstacle from the landowner then bill the developer for its share of the cost. Consequently, this reporter finds it difficult to conclude that Thomaides essentially filibustered the McCarty Commons deal into uncertainty for the reason he now claims. Details of the developer’s, and the city’s, responsibility for the Texas 21 extension were stated and re-stated throughout the May 21 discussion.]