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Update

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.

Earlier

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.”

Downloads

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

Hooters building site plan

Hooters vicinity zoning map

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.

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40 thoughts on “Sunset Acres neighbors take aim at proposed Hooters in San Marcos

  1. Omg..people like this NOT letting San Macros grow!…San Marcos cannot get anything good..one being an Alamo Draft house now this. I have lived here 44 years I go to New Braunfels to shop and go eat out most of the time..SAD!

  2. No matter what happens, the residents of Sunset Acres chose to purchase homes close to commercial property. As such, they run the risk of having neighbors that they may disapprove of. If the permit was issues following the guidelines, I feel the council is acting in poor judgement. Treating businesses and development in this manor is just going to continue to push development, jobs, and tax revenue else where, as has happened multiple times before. Ie. Alamo Draughthouse, Amazon Distribution Center. Meanwhile we have eyesores that are not addressed. Spring town center is terrible. The old Bikini’s needs to be demolished. The building is dilapidated. How is that ok by city code? Look at the success New Nrainfels has had at Creekside center. Yet we have multiple centers with tons of space available for lease. We need to stop pushing businesses away. So disappointing.

  3. Congratulations to the people of Sunset Acres for successfully defending their homes. I wish more neighborhoods were as fortunate.

  4. Well I usually come down on the side of a neighborhood, I simply cannot agree with this decision to exclude a viable business from one of the noisiest Corredor is in San Marcos. because of the alleged noise.

    It appears to me that considerations other than noise are at the heart of the matter and that if The City Council is honest and wanted to exclude “breasturestaurants” and they should instead modify the SOB ordinance. It appears that San Marcos will be once again heading into litigation. As I recall Bikinis never had a noise issue despite being close to hotels and apartments.

    I would urge all parties to have a workshop to see what accommodations could be had to allow a vital and important employer in the community and to give us the additional economic benefit of their business.

  5. Yep…..they’d have a better argument if they didn’t, you know, LIVE RIGHT NEXT TO FRIGGING I-35!!!!! Not to mention the restaurants (Whataburger and Johnny Carino’s) that are already right there.

    Methinks there wouldn’t be a problem if it were an Olive Garden and not a Hooters….and *that’s* a problem.

  6. Those complaining about the noise live a block from I -35. Hhmm!?! There’s already a bar there. Hhmm!? I have to vote with Hooters.

  7. Who among those 17 people signing the petition has enough pull to get 6 members of Council to revoke a permit previously approved by P&Z for a development that apparently meets all the requirements of the Code as it exists?

    I understand Hughson and Prewett voting against this – after all, they basically ran on an “approve nothing” platform….but what gave the other 4 green gills?

    I agree with Counselor Sergi. The City might find itself in a legal battle over this one – and rightfully so.

  8. I wonder if Hooters will still build and provide free beer as their Arlington, TX store did years back. Hope so. It took some time, but in the end Hooters did win. They have a thriving business on I20 and Green Oaks in South Arlington where my family used to frequent and totally enjoy. I have to add at first I was not interested in visiting an establishment called “Hooters” with flirty girls waiting on tables. Let me tell you…it is nothing like that. At each Hooters I have visited everyone is treated respectfully. I have never witnessed any inappropriate behavior with the staff nor customers. Kids are treated incredible and birthday celebrations are a blast! Those whom are judging before visiting are being blindly ignorant.

  9. Wow, This is the first i have heard of this proposed hooters, and i was excited for about a minute. Its really sad if this doesn’t happen, if I’m not mistaken, this is right across the street from red lobster and Chili’s which both serve alcohol… so what is the big deal? I myself as a guy wasn’t very fond of Hooters before, but my wife loves it. So I hope the reason for the resistance isn’t some indecency or opposition to scantily clad waitresses.
    And id love to drive from my home in Kyle to san Marcos rather than Selma, or Austin to get some wings. Hopefully Hooters Won’t give up. Move to Kyle, there’s plenty of room, and its a good distance from the other two stores. Or why not tear down the remnants of bikinis and build it there?

  10. So they are ok with all the loud drunk people that go to whataburger after 2am Thursday through Saturday but won’t allow hooters to build due to “noise”? And such a small amount of signatures on the petition? Wow. This shows me that our Mayor and our council are garbage. We need new people in office if this is all it takes. SMH.

  11. Wonder how many people would sign a petition to support Hooters? Looks like we’d have 8 just based on replies here…..my guess is that it would take about 5 minutes to pass and 20 minutes to triple the number of signatures as those who opposed it.

  12. Having been to both I can testify that Hooter’s is very different than what Bikini’s was. Bikini’s was nearly a topless bar – you had the sense that on the right night, in a dark corner, it could have been. Hooter’s is much more conservative. I doubt that information would change how the neighbors feel but I wonder what they would experience if the hung out in the parking lot of a Hooter’s for a while. I think it would be pretty tame. Not any more rowdy than a Chili’s. Probably less noise than Plucker’s.

  13. The City Council got it right. Just because you buy a piece of property doesn’t mean your the only one that decides what goes on it. If it doesn’t fit then it doesn’t get the permit.

  14. Bob, you must have missed the part where it said that city staff noted that the restaurant met all guidelines and requirements under current code. In fact, the article noted that the planners had agreed to several times the required setback *and* to make sure the patio was built away from the neighborhood. Not required concessions, but signs of a responsible development just the same. As is usual in this town, the unreasonable parties are the NIMBY crowd that apparently thinks restaurants don’t belong along the interstate.

    And the rest of your comment invites further discussion. How many of other people’s properties do you think you have the right to decide what they can do with them? Do I get to decide what color you can paint your house? Or are you the property king of San Marcos? If so, when’s the next election? Because I didn’t vote for you.

  15. But Bob, it does fit. And BTW, Mr. Jett was incorrect in his objection, front door to front door is well over 300′

  16. If Mr Jett was incorrect in his objection, does it not follow logically that Council was incorrect in its decision to even hear the appeal, much less its decision to reject the permit?

    If so, what is the restaurant’s recourse against this inappropriate action taken by our Council? Lawsuit, as Mr Sergi suggested?

  17. Lawsuit would be my thought, and I suspect the City would lose. Perhaps the City Attorney should do their job and advise the Council.

  18. Dano & Winchester read the following, Section 1.5.7.7 – Appeals & Section 1.5.7.5 – Criteria for Approval

    So you can at least speak intelligently about this matter. I am absolutely against any type of HOA privately or City endorsed, but its about compatibility. Let them put it where the burnt out building for Bikinis still sits. Build something there that closes somewhere near the time all the other restaurants close.

  19. The question has become may a property owner develop their property within the confines of the existing codes as determined by City Staff and P & Z or do the codes not mean anything and the citizens are left to the whims of the City Council? I tend to side with the rule of law.

  20. So your saying those who have lived in that neighborhood for decades just have lump it when a developer comes in and wants to put a incompatible business? Those who have made a huge investment and helped make San Marcos what is today. Who would have ever thought the Ford Dealership would move? No one! The council did what is should have done and that is to stand up for those who can & do vote and live in this city. Funny how the developer brags about how they have done so much for San Marcos and how great it is but yet calls San Antonio home. They are more interested in the money than they are about this city or it’s residents. They have all but one earned my vote.

  21. How is it an “incompatible business”? it’s going to be right next door to another freaking restaurant (Carino’s), forcryingoutloud!

    Methinks that biggest problem that people are having with this particular place is the fact that the waitresses wear tight shirts and short shorts…..but considering I see more scandalous attire every time I drive by any school or neighborhood in town (including the one doing all of the complaining, ironically), even that argument feels hollow….

  22. If a property owner can not make long term plans based upon the existing development code, zoning, etc, you do not have planned growth; it is chaos.

  23. Dano, Carino’s & Hooters are completely different oriented business. Carino’s has no outdoor patio, no party atmosphere, and no traffic through to the neighborhoods. 😉

  24. I notice the one in Schertz closes at midnight except Sunday when they close at 11pm. I see the homes have a chain link fence between them and the Ford dealer today – the article says there will be a screening fence so that may be an improvement. I think it will be an improvement. My vote is with Hooter’s. And the current land development code.

  25. It appears that you’re basing your opinion of what Hooters is based on a (rather prudish) personal opinion that’s likely formed via prejudice rather than personal experience. So strike one for claiming it’s a “different orientation” and a “party atmosphere”. If you had actually been to one, you’d know it’s pretty much exactly like any other restaurant.

    Strike two comes when you complain about the patio, since the developer has already announced that the patio would be oriented toward the highway and away from the neighborhood….plus, the patio will only seat 36 people so it’s pretty small.

    Finally, the article specifically stated that there would be no direct access from the restaurant to the neighborhood….so strike three and you’re out.

    Bottom line….the locals relied on an incorrect reading of the Code to file their appeal, the City Council wrongly agreed to hear the appeal and then wrongly decided to deny the permit. This is not my opinion, but rather the law as put forth by our Code. There will be a Hooters there and they will get their permit…..it’s just a matter of how much of our tax money the City is willing to waste if they insist on taking this whole sorry affair through the court system.

  26. Property owner files suit.

    City files a general denial.

    Property owner requests summary judgment.

    Summary judgment granted.

  27. That’s probably about it, but you forgot: “City tells residents ‘we tried’ so they might still get those 18 votes come election day”
    +
    I just don’t get how Council approved so many other deals in the past over the objections of many more residents than there were protesting in this case who had much better arguments than they do in this case….and then they denied this one.
    +
    Someone of that 18 must have some dirt on someone or something.

  28. Timing is everything. This reversal comes right on the heels of the “egg on face” circumstances of The Woods apartment/dam fiasco. This is a desperate attempt by certain council members to re-establish their “Pro Neighborhood” credibility.

  29. “Finally, the article specifically stated that there would be no direct access from the restaurant to the neighborhood” Look at the plans and you will see your wrong. I am done with this conversation as all you want to do is be a internet Troll and throw out incorrect venom.

    *Drops Mic…………………….

  30. From the article:
    +
    “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.”
    +
    Don’t drop the mic too hard, you might break your toes.

  31. The site plan could use a legend, but I thought the staff memo and article were clear.

    let he who is with out sin cast the first stone

  32. I heard from Zoning that Hooters will be going over near Luby’s. So it’s not killed just not going in next to Sunset Acres.

  33. So it seems that Hooters will “settle” for a different location….and in the meantime, the original location will apparently be home to a “54th Street Grill”. Oddly enough, the 54th Street Grill proudly declares that they serve 54 different beers on tap. Has there been a peep from the surrounding neighborhoods about it though? Not that I’ve heard.
    +
    So it seems that the real issue with Hooters wasn’t “the noise from a bar” as they laughably asserted (after all the new place is much more of a bar than Hooter is), but that they simply held onto a prudish and ignorant notion of exactly what a Hooters is. It’s a darn shame.

  34. To be clear, Hooter’s was to have been in the old Griffith/Red Simon Ford building. 54th Street Grill is farther away from the complaining neighbors, on the site where Texaco once was.

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