COVER: Longtime planning and zoning commissioner and current chairman Bill Taylor leads a discussion of the city’s Capital Improvement Program during a meeting in 2011. MERCURY FILE PHOTO
by BRAD ROLLINS
The city council last night appointed Amy Stanfield and Brian Olson, both small business owners, and former council member Jane Hughson to fill three vacant seats on the influential San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission.
The trio will replace outgoing commission chair Bill Taylor, vice chair Carter Morris and commissioner Randy Bryan. Taylor and Bryan are barred by the city charter from serving more than two consecutive terms and Morris did not seek re-appointment.
The planning commission seats were among 64 appointments made by the council at its Feb. 18 meeting to 22 boards and commissions ranging from the Airport Commission to the P&Z’s boring junior sibling, the Zoning Board of Adjustments. But P&Z is the only such appointed body within the municipal government with a measure of autonomy and its own authority. In some limited cases, the planning commission is empowered to make critical land use decisions that cannot be over-ruled even by the city council.
Hughson, a lifelong resident whose family has deep roots in Hays County, last year chaired the Citizens Advisory Committee that helped shape a wholesale rewriting of the comprehensive master plan intended to guide future development patterns in San Marcos.
In recent years, she has frequently lent her voice in opposition to controversial developments, particularly apartment complexes or buildings proposed for construction in and near single-family neighborhoods and high-density development in historic downtown. But, Hughson said, her voting record during two terms on the San Marcos City Council, from 1996 to 2002, and for six years before that on the planning and zoning commission indicate her thinking is more nuanced on land use issues than blind resistance.
“I’ve voted for and against all kinds of development. People who have only known me for the last three or four years probably see me as” a no-growth absolutist, Hughson said, “but they would be wrong. I do think we can have growth and development and protect our neighborhoods at the same time.”
Hughson’s accumulated council and planning commission voting records suggest she will be something of a wild card on hotly contested development votes, but certainly a commissioner more likely to vote against rezoning and land use amendment applications than any of her three outgoing predecessors. Inversely, Stanfield’s and Olson’s lack of voting histories in the pressure cooker of San Marcos’ development wars mark them as wildcards, as well, despite obvious indications that their default sympathies might lie in favor of proposed new development.
Stanfield, the immediate past chair of the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce, is business manager for the San Marcos franchise of Texas State Optical, which she owns with her husband Stephen, an ophthalmologist. Last May, when she was considering a bid for city council, Stanfield spoke at a public hearing in favor of Walton Development’s proposed Gas Lamp district, a mixed-use development on 495 acres near the Premium and Tanger outlet malls on Centerpoint Road.
Stanfield currently sits on the city’s economic development board and has served on the boards of the Hays County Food Bank, the San Marcos Education Foundation and Central Texas LifeCare, according to her commission application.
Olson is the principal owner of Premier Cuts, a regional hair salon chain with locations in San Marcos, New Braunfels, Kyle and Round Rock. He has served on the boards of Sights and Sounds of Christmas, the venerable holiday festival, and on the homeowners’ association of the Pecan Creek Condominiums on San Antonio Street, according to his commission application.
Olson “would like to see positive changes and growth, done in a responsible way,” he wrote on his commission application.
Updated 3:50 p.m. FEB. 19: Appointments for the Veterans Advisory Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustments will have to be reconsidered at the San Marcos City Council’s next regular meeting. Due to clerical errors, the council appointed more members to those boards than there are vacancies, according to City Clerk Jamie Lee Pettijohn.