San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 16th, 2012
Brad Rollins’ Blog: Introducing the Development Map

Click image to the San Marcos Development Map


Issues surrounding land development amount to more than dollar and cents — they cut to the core of who we are as a city and a citizenry. The back-and-forth over San Marcos’ future is not going to get easier as the economy heats back up, as a university at our heart continues to boom … as more people learn what a joy the San Marcos life is.

With the Development Map we are launching today, we hope to provide a resource that will be equally useful to those who develop, those who oppose development and everyone in between. The map as you see it today contains just some of the project either proposed, under construction, recently approved or recently completed. We will expand it over time.

We intend for this to be a dynamic service, updated regularly to change as the city does. We know it is not nearly complete, nor will it ever be, and encourage you to help us flag proposed developments by either sending an email here or leaving comments below.

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31 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ Blog: Introducing the Development Map

  1. Very neat idea. Lets some of us keep up with what’s going on around here and lets the no-growthers know where to stage their next protest.

    Is this a work in progress or has the project along the Blanco been dropped completely? At one point, they wanted to do a whole “riverwalk” thing up there….

  2. love it, altough a few folks leaving right by the proposed casey project have a pretty thorough map drawn up, we may have to get with you brad so you can use it as a starting point?.

    To Dano:
    What’s a neo-growther ? are you a pro-build anything anywhere?

    I personnally oppose the sessom creek development project: just the wrong location. but love to see other projects from the same company go forward, like the “concho commons” by N. LBJ across for the st mark church, or the propsed spring mall mixed use projects. You cannot just approve anything nor oppose everything. The petition going on around town hurts development but i signed it. Blame the PZ and some short sighted or sold out council members for messing too much with the horizon plan and missing the big picture. This city already has 75% multifamily residences, more than any other comparable size campus towm in the usa…There is plenty of space to build around here, why encroach in yet another residential neighborhood and threathen to pollute the river while these other spaces are available?

  3. An involved citizen looks at the relative merits and drawbacks of a given project and considers the cost/benefit of the project for the city as a whole. The involved citizen airs his or her concerns in the appropriate forums and is willing to work with the developer to make a project that may be personally undesirable work for the community at large.

    A no-growth protestor just wants to keep that empty piece of land nearby empty because they want their back yards a little quieter, and loudly and repeatedly denounces (using any and all outlets) *any* efforts to develop said property no matter the concessions made by the developer.

    We have a few of both types around here.

  4. I would have to agree that it is not correct/fair to categorize everyone against the Sessoms project as a no-growther, anymore than it would be to label those who criticize us who are exercising our rights to voice our opinions as “anti-democratic” or those who think we should build this project here as “a no zoning regulation-er (or however you would describe such a creature)”…arguments do have valid nuances, right?

  5. FYI, We would not have enjoyed the years of success here in San Marcos without growth, and i personally derive my income form said growth. However, growth that destroys the very thing that has made San Marcos a great place to live for many years, is no more than an abomination forced on the permanent citizens of this town! Once you destroy a beautiful ecosyatem, is is basically impossible to try and re-create it. Try fishing in the San Antonio River near the river walk sometime. Or snorkling there, or cayaking, etc. etc. Brad, I applaud your venue here for a map of where our town is headed, please overlay that with how many projects are in conflict with the previous visions of our city leaders for protection of neighborhoods, etc, so that it can be visually obvious how those plans are being scuttled! Happy Monday!JLB:-)

  6. Dano, we also have our fair share of “any development must be good development” types, wouldn’t you say?

    Some of what we have seen is more along the lines of bloat, than growth. Growth, to me, means advancement, improvement, etc.

    I’d still love to see a center turn lane on Sessom/Academy.

  7. True points, Ted and Keith. There are too many extremists on both sides…but I see 10x the amount of no growthers as I do whatever you would call those on the other extreme.

    I have *never* said that anyone who opposes a particular development is automatically a “no growther”. And I certainly have never said that every development proposed for San Marcos has been a good idea or one deserving of support. I believe that each development needs to be fairly and honestly assessed based on its individual merits.

    But there are people out there who rail incessantly against every single development proposed for this town, and they always fall back on the same tired old arguments to support their “position”. For these people, no matter how ardently the developer strives to address community concerns, mitigate environmental impact, and be a good neighbor and good citizen overall, they will be AGAINST IT.

    I wish they were just honest with everyone about their reasons for opposition to these developments – it would be a breath of fresh air to hear one of them simply say “not in my back yard” for a change.

  8. Dano, I agree, but I think the whole thing is dysfunctional, and while the no-growthers seem to be a large group, and they are certainly vocal, the other side seems to come out on top, more often than not.

    The result of the chaos and dysfunction, is a fair amount of stagnation, where we can largely only seem to attract apartments and retail employers, and often can only get those with incentives.

    The university, on the other hand, is clearly growing by leaps and bounds. Their standards are improving, as is their reputation, and ratings. They are adding more advanced degrees. Their facilities are improving. Their campus looks better every year.

    They aren’t lowering their standards, to accept any and all applicants, nor are they throwing up any building anyone dreams up, wherever the dreamer wants it, regardless of whether it makes sense, or whether it lines up with their master plan.

    Granted, they have more control, but the differences are staggering. The advancement of the university over the last 20 years, compared to that of the city, is a stark contrast. I attribute their success to a well thought-out plan, which they have stuck to fairly well.

  9. In addition to a multitude of other significant reasons, I will say, with conviction, ” Not im my dang back yard! ” Just makes no sense in the big picture, I have seen these growth spurts come and go over the years, and every single time we end up with a glut, and the unavoidable stagnant properties as a result. JLB 🙂

  10. Dano–you wrote “the involved citizen airs his or her concerns in the appropriate forums and is willing to work with the developer to make a project that may be personally undesirable work for the community at large. Please explain how the Sessoms Street project might be desirable or beneficial for the community at large.

    It sounds like an involved citizen should only voice his opinion but be willing to roll over and take it, his involvement only an attempt to lessen the screwing he’s about to get, because only development and money matter.

  11. Ive see the Rybicki (sp?) map and some others. I also have information coming from the city via public information request that should help me flesh this out further.

  12. Put me on record as against this project in this PLACE…but put it over at Springtown, and you’ll see me turning cartwheels to have it done.

    I’m NOT no -growth, I’m pro- responsible growth. No matter how many concessions Mr. Casey makes, it’s still a bad spot. Also – that word “concessions” is interesting. It’s only “concession” because our town codes are not as stringent as they might be. Perhaps the silver lining of all this is that our town Planning Department and Council realize that the town needs much stricter standards, written into law. Then we’ll no longer need “concessions” – developers will have to do the right thing by the environment or the zoning codes and that will be that.

  13. Somebody make this simple for me. I’ve lived in San Marcos 14 years and I love to drive Sessoms. Just give me three realistic reasons why to oppose this project ,and three realistic reasons to support it. Please exclude capitalism and emotion, I already get both of those and accept both as valid

  14. Oppose:

    1. More traffic on Sessom, and more traffic turning on and off.
    2. Potential damage to the river.
    3. Potential noise/trash/nuisance problems for the neighbors.


    1. Better quality development than much of what we tend to see.
    2. Mixed use so close to the university could be a good fit, and could be nice for the neighbors (above concerns aside).
    3. Might bring about some much needed bike/ped improvements for that stretch of road.

  15. I’ll preemptively disagree with anyone who says to support it because otherwise the university is going to buy it. Their master plan, which they have been following, simply does not support this. Anything is possible, but it is improbable.

  16. Given the above concerns, the concerned citizen would ask for evidence that the developer has done his homework regarding traffic, noise, and pollution concerns. They might ask that the City enforce some restrictions to ensure that their concerns are met and at least partially alleviated.

    The no growther, however, just continues to say “nope, not here, not now, not ever”.

  17. And to remain competitive in the development world, the LAST thing San Marcos needs is more restrictions on developers….this town is near legendary for being difficult to work with already…..

  18. I’d favor lifting restrictions on development of land for the purposes it is currently zoned for. Sure.

    I’d also like the city to do its own homework, rather than rely on how convincing a given developer is. There’s no reason why P&Z and Council should be making uninformed decisions.

  19. Dano,

    if you’ve been to the past P and Z, meetings you’d know that much of what you say regarding the developer’s “due homework” regarding noise, traffic,and pollution certainly has been addressed and discussed. I would really encourage you to find videos f the comment periods at the P and Z meetings and listen for yourself. They are at the Council page on the City web site.

    While the developer and the city staff have certainly been working hard to mitigate pollution concerns, there is *legitimate* concern that this might not be enough at this site to prevent a major problem.

    As for traffic – school just started back today. I would love to compare the counts through Aquarena and Sessoms the 4 times I’ve navigated it today, with the data from November 1 of last year. Many, many people have concerns that the traffic counts Mr. Casey is using are very low. And the town traffic engineer, Mr. Avila, has said that that intersection really won’t be improved at all with the right turn signal overlay proposed by the developer. (From Friday’s workshop meeting)

    I also see real problems with pedestrian safety near the development itself, even though many solutions have been discussed and dismissed.

    Listen for yourself – the info is all out there in video.

    For Mr. Marchut,

    In all the discussions however, I don’t remember anything about bike paths or pedestrian improvement on Sessom. 🙁

    Also, *are* there currently restrictions for some reason on those properties for SF-6 development? I’m not aware of any….

  20. Perhaps restrictions is the wrong word.

    In the past, I have heard that impact fees are too high, that various requirements for new developments are problematic, etc. If that is what is driving developers to buy cheaper SF property and rezone it, then I would be interested what can be done (if anything) to make it more desirable to develop what we want, where we want it.

    Making it easier to ignore what’s left of our master plan, and then ignore the new one, whenever that gets done, does not really interest me.

  21. I don’t see this development increasing traffic along Sessoms and Aquarena significantly – at least not during peak hours. Before your head explodes, hear me out:

    This development is being put right next to campus for a reason – to attract students who are there anyway.

    Yeah, some will live there – but if they live right on the edge of campus what reason is there for them to be all the way over at Aquarena during class hours?

  22. Re: the bike/ped improvements, I’ve seen comments about how to get people safely across the street. Hopefully those discussions will bear fruit. That side of Sessom desperately needs a shared use path, as well. New construction typically includes sidewalks, so I’m just hoping that the city will go a tad larger, and get a share use path in there.

    Then, rather than another sidewalk to nowhere, perhaps the city can at least extend it to Alamo, so that people on bikes/foot from the neighborhoods can safely get to this wonderful development. The idea of mixed use is, I am told, to make it easier to live/work/play in your neighborhood, and to get around without a car.

    Of course, I said “might,” not “will,” or even “probably.” The opportunity is there, though. Someone just has to seize it.

  23. Will this map also include areas rezoned. I believe that the homes at the intersection of Owens and Holland have recently had rezoning.

  24. Dano, I don’t think it will increase traffic much, but I could be wrong. It will very likely increase the number of cars turning onto and off of Sessom. It takes far fewer of those to cause a disruption, as we already see with the buses, which are insignificant in number, compare to the cars, and as we also see with the cars coming and going from the rec center.

    A center turn lane is already needed there. The level of service on that road, the last time I checked, was at D or F, and this won’t make it any better.

  25. Also, don’t rule out the possibility that this becomes a “free commuter lot,” at least temporarily. Those already spring up just about anywhere within a short walk of a shuttle bus stop. Until the owners get a good predatory towing system in place, I would not be the least bit surprised to see cars coming and going all day, driven by people who need to get on campus.

  26. Even if the students walk to school — obviously they would — do we really think they will walk everywhere else they go? To HEB? Downtown to drink? Will they even walk to their friends living on Sagewood? No, they will be driving all over the place, not to mention everyone coming there to “destination” shop. The infrastructure is simply not there for a project of this size and I’m not sure how it could be changed to make it so. In short, I don’t see how this will not dramatically increase traffic over here, despite its proximity to campus.

  27. This a planned mixed use development. Residents won’t be the only traffic. There will also be an increase in truck traffic to supply those businesses, which don’t exist there currently. As far as how much students drive, I see lots of green permit cars driving around campus to get to class on the other side. Lots of people walk to campus, but driving to class (or having their friends drive them) is seen as a right.

    This project would be fine in one of other areas Casey is developing. This project could be fine in the newly cleared area, just down the hill on Comanche. The Sessom headwaters are the wrong place for this project. Claiming that “we’d better do it now, while we have control” is a red herring.

  28. Please add the 10.75 acre proposed Hillside Ranch phase II development to the map (corner of N LBJ and Holland) – another request to rezone single family residential to high density residential.

  29. brad- could you track down whats being constructed on old bastrop between francis harris and york creek? looks industrial or warehouse. just curious and cant catch anyone there to ask.

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