10:42 p.m. TUESDAY, JULY 7: The San Marcos City Council voted 6-1 to uphold an appeal filed by Sunset Acres neighborhood resident Robert H. Jett in protest of a conditional use permit to serve alcohol granted on May 25 to to the owners of proposed Hooters restaurant.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero and council members John Thomaides, Ryan Thomason, Shane Scott, Lisa Prewitt and Jane Hughson voted to reverse the Planning & Zoning Commission’s 4-3 approval of Hooter’s permit application. Their decision effectively invalidates, or nullifies, the permit. Council member Jude Prather voted against the appeal.
by BRAD ROLLINS
1:49 p.m. TUESDAY, JULY 7: A resident campaigning to block construction of a Hooters restaurant near his home in the Sunset Acres neighborhood is scheduled to make his case tonight to the San Marcos City Council.
At its closest point, Robert H. Jett’s backyard is about 183 feet from the 3.3-acre parcel where Atlanta-based Hooters of America LLC intends to open one of its establishments famous for attractive waitresses in overflowing white tank tops and orange nylon short shorts. Seven homes on Parker and Patricia streets share property lines with the Hooters tract, which is zoned for general commercial use and fronts the northbound Interstate 35 access road. The current occupant, the Griffith Ford auto dealership, plans to relocate to interstate property it bought last year in northern San Marcos.
“Myself and my neighbors are used to hearing the noise from an auto dealership during the day. Now, if Hooters is allowed to be put in its place, the noise level will increase dramatically during the evening time, nighttime and even more so on the weekends,” Jett told the San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission on May 26 when they considered Hooters’ application for a conditional use permit to serve mixed drinks.
Planning commissioners voted 4-3 to issue the permit for a one-year probationary period after Hooters general counsel Claudia Levitas agreed to a 40-foot setback from the property line — four times the ten-foot setback mandated by the municipal land development code — and to reconfigure the site plan to position the patio on the north side of the restaurant such that the building will serve as a buffer between the outdoor seating area and Parker Drive. Hooter’s plans would demolish the existing auto dealership building and replace it with a 6,660-square-foot restaurant with indoor seating for 191 indoor and outdoor patio seating for 36.
P&Z chair Chris Wood and vice chair Kenneth Ehlers were joined by planning commissioners Amy Stanfield and Shawn Dupont in voting for the permit. Commissioners Angie Ramirez, James Garber and Saul Gonzales voted against. Commissioners Brian Olson and Travis Kelsey were absent.
On June 9, Jett appealed the planning commission decision and asked the city council to invalidate Hooters’ conditional use permit. Seventeen other residents of Parker Drive and Patricia Drive signed a petition opposing Hooter’s CUP request.
Under the land development code, the council can reverse conditional use permit decisions made by its P&Z appointees. The council can also uphold planning commission decisions or “attach conditions to the CUP as necessary to mitigate adverse effects of the proposed use,” an unsigned staff memo to council members states.
Besides reasserting Jett’s belief that Hooters will erode the neighborhood’s quality of life, the appeal argues that the permit was approved in violation of the land development code which specifies that businesses within 300 feet of single-family residences are not eligible for conditional use permits to serve alcohol.
“This permit is in direct violation of the city of San Marcos land development code. The vote by the zoning commission should be nullified and the permit request should be denied for this address,” Jett wrote council members. The house at 200 Patricia Drive, for example, would be 53 feet from the restaurant footprint at their closest point.
However, the code states that distances between places serving alcohol and places protected by the 300-foot buffer zone — churches, hospitals and single-family residences — are to be measured front door to front door and along property lines at public streets.
“Measurement was not taken from the proposed Hooters directly to Patricia Drive as Patricia Drive dead ends prior to arching the property line of the proposed establishment, and the exiting fence will be replaced with a screening fence as required by code. Therefore, there will be no direct access between Patricia Drive and the proposed establishment,” the staff memo states.
San Antonio developer R.W. McDonald IV, one of the property owners, objected vigorously to council’s consideration of the appeal in a June 23 letter.
“We are under contract to lease the property to a company that will operate a Hooters brand restaurant. … Now we have found out that the conditional use permit has been appealed by the owner of a nearby house. As we understand the appeal process, the purpose of an appeal ‘is to contest an initial decision on a development application based upon alleged misapplication of the criteria for approval of the application.’ We are troubled by many of the statements in the appeal and we are concerned that the appeal was not filed in good faith,” McDonald wrote.
McDonald adds, “We have followed these rules and regulations and want to proceed with the development of the subject property in the proposed fashion. If the citizens of the city of San Marcos wish to add additional rules and regulations as it pertains to general commercial zoning next to single-family zoning, then I believe it is appropriate to attempt to revise the code rather than punish the individuals who purchased general commercial property and are in the process of permitting with a site plan that meets all code and zoning requirements.”
Staff memo on Hooters CUP appeal | 07/07/15
Developer’s letter on Hooters appeal | 06/23/15
Hooters CUP appeal petition | 06/09/15
Staff memo on Hooters CUP | 05/13/15
CORRECTION 10:37 p.m.: The story originally said a super-majority of the city council is required to overrule the planning and zoning commission on whether to grant conditional use permits to serve mixed drinks. Reversing a decision to deny a permit requires a super-majority, or six votes. Reversing a decision to grant a permit requires a simple majority, or four votes.Email | Print