The San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission in its Tuesday night deliberations. Photo by Sean Batura.
By ANDY SEVILLA
The controversial Buie tract development project is on hold once again, pending a geological assessment report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
At the request of Baker-Aicklen & Associates, on behalf of Craddock Avenue Partners, LLC, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tabled all items this week concerned with rezoning and amending the land use map regarding the Buie tract. Craddock Avenue Partners owns the Buie property. City staff reported to P&Z commissioners that the city and the developers are waiting for the TCEQ report.
Without discussion, commissioners unanimously voted to table the items and take them back up at their March 23 meeting. City staff said it will notify area residents and schedule a public hearing.
The Buie tract, adjacent to the Franklin Square, Oak Heights, and Westover neighborhoods in the western reaches of the city, is proposed as a mixed-use project. The project has come under strong criticism from the adjacent neighborhoods, except for the Franklin Square, where homeowners have favored the project. Much of the opposition is due to the Buie tract’s location on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and the potential damage to the area and natural features.
The Franklin Square Homeowner Association wrote a letter of support after the developers promised the neighborhood a gift of five acres to be privately used as parkland, leaving adjacent neighborhoods and the city without access to the gifted property.
The developer originally submitted an Exception Request with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on Sept. 18, but withdrew the application after TCEQ sent the developer a letter requesting clarification on the omission of a water well, as well as the omission of “more features located on the property, including a mapped cave named Anyway Cave.”
The San Marcos City Council approved a land development agreement for the Buie tract at its Dec. 1 meeting. The agreement addresses density and site design while setting triggers for annexation of property involved with the next two phases of the project, which aren’t proposed to be developed. Craddock Avenue Partners proposes to develop about 45 acres of the 174.24-acre Buie tract. The development is scheduled to go in the tract’s first phase, which has been annexed into the city in its entirety.
For the purposes of zoning, Phase One has been divided into four tracts, with two for mixed-use development and two for multi-family development. The land use map amendments, if approved by P&Z and later by the city council, would change from Very Low Density Residential (VLDR) to Mixed Use (MU) and Medium Density Residential (MDR), while the zoning changes would move from Single-Family (SF-6) and unzoned to Multi-Family (MF-12) and Mixed Use (MU) on four tracts.
According to city staff, “The proposed multi-family zoning is not as clearly consistent with the Sector 2 Plan or with the Horizons Master Plan … Due to the sensitivity of the property it is not appropriate for the entire property to be developed to a density of 12 units per acre.” However, staff also said that “the request to designate Tract 1 and 3 Mixed Use and Tracts 2 and 4 Medium Density Residential is a request that is consistent with both the goals/policy statements of the Horizon’s Master Plan and the Sector 2 Plan. Furthermore the change in land use designation supports the following goals of Traditional Neighborhood Design and city council’s goal of supporting environmental protection and smart growth.”
According to the city’s development agreement with Craddock Avenue Partners on the Buie tract:
• The tract in its entirety is permitted to a project density of 459 units – 453 units for Phase 1, Phase 2 would receive any remaining units not utilized in Phase 1, and Phase 3 has a total of four units,
• Buildings in Phase 1 MF-12 must be a minimum of three stories,
• Sensitive natural features discovered on the site are to be protected and preserved,
• Existing creeks must be maintained in their natural undisturbed condition,
• More than 50 percent of the property is to be preserved in its natural undisturbed condition,
• The property owner is required to enter into an agreement with a private company or organization for the purpose of securing the identified significant natural recharge features of the site, and
• The majority of the development on Phase 1 will be clustered along each side of Craddock Avenue.
I sure am glad we have people throughout the community who are concerned about protecting our natural resources. There doesn’t have to be such tension between developers and the community, especially if the developers will speak the truth and fulfill their commitments.
Just another example of development at the expense of nature. The action may have been slowed but the development will always win out while we have politicians and corporations that promote growth at any cost. “Growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell” -Edward Abbey