12:30 p.m. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7: According to City Clerk Jamie Lee Pettijohn, the Concho Commons “height warrant” did not die with the San Marcos City Council’s tie vote last night. The council could opt for a do-over within three months without requiring Casey Development Ltd. to start over with the application process and without requiring another P&Z vote, she said.
“When a vote is tied, it means the motion dies so it does not dispose of the item one way or the other. The item can come back [for reconsideration],” Pettijohn said. “Under our code, the item will not require another public hearing if it’s on an agenda within 90 days. So if staff and the developer work out something to bring back something in 90 days, there will not be a public hearing. It will just go to a vote.”
9:08 a.m. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7: Unable to muster a city council majority, developer Darren Casey was rebuffed Tuesday night in his request to add two floors to a residential high-rise he proposes to build between Texas State University and downtown San Marcos.
Under measures approved by the San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission in October 2012, San Antonio-based Casey Development Ltd. is already entitled to build up to 13 floors with 310 apartment units comprised of 585 bedrooms. Last month, planning commissioners voted to favorably recommend a new request from Casey to add two more floors to a reconfigured set of plans that make room for 326 living units with 766 bedrooms. Both the 2012 and 2014 versions of Concho Commons won lopsided support from planning commissioners, with all nine members approving the 13-floor version and all but one approving the 15-floor version on Dec. 9.
After more than an hour of periodically testy deliberations during a regular meeting Tuesday evening, council members tied 3-3 on a motion to approve an agreement that would have granted Casey’s “height warrant” in exchange for commitments that included requiring that Concho Commons meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards for energy conservation and environmental sustainability.
Council members John Thomaides, Lisa Pruitt and Jane Hughson voted against approval. Mayor Daniel Guerrero and council members Jude Prather and Shane Scott voted in favor.
Council member Ryan Thomason recused himself from the vote because the general contracting business he co-owns with Planning & Zoning Commission chair Chris Wood is engaged in the construction of a different Casey project, the Uptown apartment development on Thorpe Lane.
By right, property owners can build up to five floors in areas of downtown designated for future high density development under the 2011 “form-based” SmartCode, a set of ordinances that replaces traditional land use-based zoning in the 240-plus acre Central Business District. If they want to build higher, property owners must request a “height warrant” from P&Z and, as of amendments made earlier this year, from the city council as well.
It was not immediately clear where Tuesday’s split vote leaves prospects for Casey’s “height warrant.” The city charter specifies that four votes are required to approve or deny a motion before the council, regardless of whether a meeting is attended by a bare quorum of five members or a full dais of seven. Consequently, Casey’s height warrant was neither approved nor denied and council members offered differing assessments after the meeting about the conditions under which it could be reconsidered.
Memo to San Marcos City Council on P&Z recommendation [pdf] | 12/10/14
Staff analysis recommending approval height warrant [pdf] | 12/04/14