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

February 8th, 2012
Casey now plans single family subdivision on Sessom properties

Click to download preliminary plat for Sessom Court


Residents who opposed Darren Casey’s Sessom Drive development because it required rezoning single-family properties to make way for more apartments can declare victory.

View San Marcos Development Map in a larger map

On Monday, engineers working for the developer applied to plat the property for single-family use — 52 home lots on 14.2 acres — in a less dense neighborhood of cul de sacs being called Sessom Court. The proposal would dedicate 1.2 acres as parkland.

Casey had proposed 420 apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail space in an upscale complex expected to cost about $63 million; under his earlier proposal, he would have dedicated 4.5 acres as parkland on the bank of Sessom Creek. He has five homes under contract to buy on Sessom Drive at Loquat Street, across the street from Texas State University.

His original proposal was met with gales of opposition, much of it from homeowners in the area who saw the rezoning as an encroachment of apartments into established neighborhoods. Moreover, it became a symbol of San Marcos’ ongoing apartment-building frenzy — a national trend magnified here by the presence of a booming university. Casey’s proposal sparked a petition drive insisting on a moratorium against zoning single-family property for multi-family use; at last night’s city council meeting, activists said they had collected more than 2,000 signatures representing people who live across the city.

The San Marcos City Council last month declined 3-4 to grant Casey’s rezoning request.

Assuming the plat submitted by Casey’s agents complies with technical requirements of the city’s land development code, it will not require a council vote to be enacted much less the public hearings that gave voice this winter to a potentially enduring movement in municipal politics. Residents who still oppose Casey’s efforts — despite his making the ultimate concession of switching to much less profitable single-family — appear at first blush to have few options for blocking Sessom Court.

“It’s not a negotiation. [With platting], you set your standards and if they are met, under state law, they are statutorily approved,” said Matthew Lewis, the city’s Development Services director. “They are not asking for a land use or zoning change and they say they are not asking for plat variances or subdivision variances.”

Lewis said the city’s low-density residential zoning allows six homes per acre as long as lots are at least 6,000 square feet, at least 50 feet wide and have at least 35 feet of street frontage.


» Preliminary plat for Sessom Court [pdf] Email Email | Print Print


68 thoughts on “Casey now plans single family subdivision on Sessom properties

  1. “Residents who still oppose Casey’s efforts — despite his making the ultimate concession of switching to much less profitable single-family — appear at first blush to have few options for blocking Sessom Court.”

    Does anyone oppose this? In any significant numbers? Or, is this comment just thrown in, to stir the pot a little?

  2. There was maybe a dozen or more Sessom opponents at last night’s city council meeting and word of this was circulating and, no, I don’t think it was well received. I don’t think we know yet if anyone opposes it — this is the first time it’s been reported — but given the recent history of these properties it seems possible.

  3. I oppose this. This is a hydrologically sensitve area, and the current zoning guidelines and regulations don’t adequately protect it. I hope that in the very near future this can be corrected but until then we have to depend on the integrity of the landowners and developers.

    I’m not sure any of them understand, or care, how degraded the watershed already is – and that every bit of tree and soil cover count.

  4. Yes there is REAL opposition to any project in that canyon. This is not a victory for the citizens group Protect San Marcos, and it will not be a winning situation for any citizens of San Marcos.

    The new proposed development is just a different type of trouble for the river. The developer (from Jaimy B) “plans to use the existing, however ludicrous, zoning standards that will allow them to subdivide up to 6 1/6 acre lots per acre, roughly 64 lots after allowing for the new streets, etc. presently planned. There will be no zoning change, only compliance with existing building code standards”…. which are far less restrictive on single family development than with multifamily development. This single family zoning density change was city wide and occured under our last Mayor’s watch. The the primary watershed areas that flow into our river should NOT have been rezoned in this manner if we intend to to be good stewards of the jewel that we have been gifted. This is a very disappointing turn of events for all citizens who love the river, value the aquifer and want them protected as they should be.

    This is partly true: “the public hearings that gave voice this winter to a potentially enduring movement in municipal politics” ~ take out the word potentially and that is exactly what we have in the city of San Marcos, as we have lost faith in our city to make intelligent development decisions.

  5. John Q no opportunities were missed accept the chance to destroy a neighborhood by developing a 1000 plus unit complex, causing sessoms to go from an E rating to F and total gridlock because even the city admitted they could make no changes to accomodate the increase in traffic that the development would call for, and the chance for the city to be sued for spot zoning.

    It’s nice that we don’t have to worry as MUCH about traffic and incompatible land uses between the neighboorhood and Sessom Court, but we do have to worry about the very real threat to our river, watershed area and the wild life in the canyon. I personally can’t imagine that beautiful canyon being clear cut out of our skyline and replaced by KB home type structures.

  6. The original plan in that canyon was *not* an opportunity for San Marcos — only the landowners, the realtor, and the developer.

    Yes there were consequences to protesting. One of them is that now everyone’s true colors are laid out there for us all to see. If all the professed love of San Marcos and life long stewardship of the land been *real*, and if striving for environmentally safe designs in the original project had been *genuinely* motivated by a sense to do what is right for our community, then the above plan would never have been proposed.

    This plan…if it is serious…is designed to do nothing more than squeeze every last dollar from the property. How sad.

  7. A zoning variance was not acceptable to the neighbors so they got it shot down. Now the developer has decided to put single family in there and still they bellyache. But they’re not against growth – nope, not at all. Just ask them.

    Casey still has an investment to recoup. The original plan was scrapped, and he’s on to plan b. I’m guessing plan b isn’t as beneficial to him as plan a was (otherwise it would have been plan a to begin with). As long as his plan b conforms with current zoning restrictions, I don’t know where anyone has a proper gripe here. You’ve already cost the guy money and San Marcos a top-notch development….isn’t that enough damage?

  8. Dano, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Seems like everyone is screaming “stay with the master plan”, and guess what? They are and it still is not good enough. Seems to me, they want their cake and to be able to eat to.

  9. Dano,

    It was not just “the neighbors” – well over 2000 residents from all over the city have signed a petition opposing these types of zoning changes. There is a GIS map that clearly shows it is a city wide concern.

    Don’t worry about Mr. Casey – he still has plenty of on going projects in SM that will allow him to turn a profit.

    And nope, I’m not against growth. But put it where the City said years ago it should be – away from the recharge areas – and respect the zoning codes in the Master Plan. There is PLENTY of land to develop that meet those criteria.

  10. Dano Casey was offered other areas for his development and he didn’t bite, it was spot zoning it was illegal, and the wrong place for a project of that size. His lawyers should have warned him that he was taking a gamble with his money, but they thought they would just shove it through real quick, and uh…it didn’t turn out that way ~ he lost the gamble, but he’s got enough money to play the odds. No one intentionally set out to cost Casey money, he’s a businessman, business can be risky.

    “You’ve already cost the guy money and San Marcos a top-notch development….isn’t that enough damage?”

    I don’t put the guys money before fellow citizens or the river and aquifer, and neither does anyone opposed to developing that canyon. We have and will continue to oppose any non-intelligent development in San Marcos. There are 4 MILES of multi family zoned areas in town to appease the developers who currently can only get loans for apartment complexes. And there is also plenty of space that doesn’t threaten the river, wild life and the aquifer to build muli-family housing.

  11. Well, I am happy to see single family homes going into single family property, and I am a neighbor.

    I’d still like to see that center turn lane on Sessom.

  12. JHorton,

    They don’t want anything to do with cake. What they WANT is the land to remain empty so they don’t have pesky neighbors (of any kind) to deal with.

    First, they were able to use opposition to the zoning change as their weapon of choice in their fight to keep the land empty (and their back yard a little quieter) and now that the plan doesn’t require a zoning change, it sounds like they’re about to pull the “environment” card.

    Instead of being happy that the development is single family, they’re going to continue to complain that there are plans for that land. They won’t be happy with anything short of a total restriction of development on that land – and unless they’re willing to pony up several million dollars to buy it themselves, I don’t think they’re going to get what they want. Nor should they.

  13. Those of you who are still against this project, even though it now meets the zoning ordinace and master plan, had better come up with a lot of money to make a counter offer and do it fast. I was afraid Mr. Casey would just wait a year or two and come at us again with his apartment complex. I applaud him for deciding to develop this land in accordance with the rules that exist.

  14. Yep, Larry. Anyone wanting to block development on this property (even development that fits code – isn’t that odd?) better start passing the hat and fast.

    I figure 52 lots at $40-50K per lot means that they will need to bring around around $2-2.5 million to the table. So how bad do they want to keep that land empty?

  15. You may be right Ted. I was thinking that lots out where I am run $30-40K for an acre, but we are out in the boonies. IIRC, city lots bring a premium price.

    You could also argue that saving Casey the time and expense of subdividing the lots could be a reason to negotiate the price downward. But if I were Casey, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit inclined to be cutting anyone a break on this property right now.

    It’s all speculation since we don’t even know what Casey has into the land and soft costs so far. It could be that the false start on the other project has cost him so much he can’t afford NOT to develop this property to its fullest capacity now. Of course, it’s also possible that the 1/6 acre lot plan is as much a big “F U” to the neighborhood as anything.

    Either way, it’s put up or shut up time for the naysayers.

  16. To dano and J horton,
    You really have to be a bit more nuanced. Yes you would think single family would be better that multi but apparently single family zoning is not just single family zoning. There is single family like we have now sf6, which is a very high density single family. This is not what the master plan called for but a recent change…
    Our previous mayor, mrs. Narvaez. has succeded in implementing several damaging changes, some going directly against the master plan. We, as a city, will pay for this for years to come.
    . the building of a new mall at mccarty with the developer going bankrupt, nullifying the deal for tax revenue and reimbursement to the city, while spring mall is empty.
    . modifying the single family zoning to sf6 troughout the city, which is perfect for investors building rental units, but really damaging to a real single family neighborhood.
    . creation of a new neighborhood advisory board while CONA worked perfectly well. I heard that CONA was not going in the direction that MRS. narvaez and her supporters wanted to. Cona is currently being revived.
    back to Sessoms:
    The response to “plan A” was easy: The zoning change was going against many regulations and the master plan; and the city could easily have been sued by various parties. plan B? still same location, more environmental impact, less traffic impact, less profit for the developers, less housing for campus…is it a good thing? i think not since our regs in place are way too soft for this location. That high density will also encourage rental housing very quickly: party town…

    Managing growth is difficult but not impossible. You cannot build anything anywhere. Especially not on recharge or watershed ground. We are about to be faced with many more of these projects in the hills and we are not ready for this. I am sure the planning staff would concure. The uprising of concerned citizen is there to balance out the overwhelming support the city government has given to a select group of developers, namely ETR consulting and Darren Casey (approval of quasi 100% of high density zoning changes…). These consultants and developers do try and follow the rules, are experienced and talented, but also are there to make a buck like all of us. its up to our city government to develop good rules and enforce them. The last thing we want is loosing good developers and projects, but we cant le anything anywhere go.
    Its up to us to vote. Maybe we will have more than 3% of the population voting next time…Boy, city planning is tough…

  17. At 1/6 acre per lot, I think this shows what the market will bear in San Marcos. Larger lots would have meant more upscale homes, and those probably wouldn’t fly across the street from TX State.

    That said, Lot 10 is starting to look pretty sweet….

  18. I watched this issue closely as it developed over the last several months. The only thing heard from the naysayers was “great development wrong location” and “it’s zoned single family not multifamily” and “do not change the master plan”. Well here we are. My mama always told me “be careful what ya wish for”

    Now it’s time for all involved to grow up, be an adult and take your cough syrup. Mr. Casey gave us the tougher water restrictions and was offering to give San Marcos higher standards than what is currently in use in Austin. Now, none of you have a say in what happens. Nothing like losing your ace in the hole. Hindsight is 20/20 huh?

  19. Well, why can’t those same higher standards apply for this single family neighborhood- even though they are not required, just like they weren’t last month?

    That’s what I meant when I said above that our standards are too low for these critical areas, and until they can be changed, we need to rely on the integrity of the developers and landowners. Mr. Casey’s group is clearly capable of great things, and I was impressed by what they were willing to do (though it was still not the right place for that type and scale of project.) I had hopes that all the work of our planning department and his team to set the bar higher would have carried over. To see that it didn’t even make it to the next stage is deeply disappointing….

  20. Cori
    Mr. Casey is playing by our rules that we set in place. Mr.Casey and and his company have done nothing wrong. It was us and our local officials who have set these zoning regulations in place.

    I am a very analytical individual and if this had been my neighborhood I would have played ball with this developer to get the best possible outcome for our community and river, it’s called negotiation. I would have rather been apart of the zoning changes than sit around and complain about them, just to wait for the next election.

    Always, always be one step ahead of your opponent. I have decided that the residents who opposed this development let themselves and our community down, they really had the bull by the horns and didn’t even realize it, even though some of us tried to tell them.

  21. Mr. Casey should be allowed to develop this property without citizen complaint. He is following the laws as put forth by our city council. If you disagree, your argument is with your elected officials – not Mr. Casey.

  22. Cori,

    It’s unfair of you to sit there and bad mouth Casey for not going “above and beyond” on his environmental standards for the new project, considering that you really don’t know anything about the financial impact of such measures.

    It could be that so much money was wasted on the plan for the original project that he has to get out of dodge as cheaply as he can now. If that’s the case, then blame it on those who saw to it that the original project was shot down.

    It could be that he still plans to develop this new project according to more stringent standards. I don’t think that it was ever specifically addressed either way yet.

    It could be that meeting such high standards was economically feasible for the commercial development and not so for developing a whole subdivision. It doesn’t seem fair for us to dictate to him how much money he can make from this deal. The “concerned citizens” have already cost him a pretty penny on this particular piece of land, you know.

    It could be that the higher standards were a peace offering to those opposed to the original project. You know, a compromise in the spirit of negotiation. Too bad the mob wasn’t interested in negotiating.

    And yes, it could be a giant middle finger to those who lacked the vision to deal with him on the original project.

    Whatever the reason, we should wait and see before we start throwing rocks at the guy again….

  23. Is this their bait and switch plan? If we just vacate the City Hall property for their apartment plan they will give up on this?

  24. Very funny Watson, I noticed those lots when I was looking at the plans. Funnier still are some of the street names ~ Alpha and Locust ~ is Mr. Casey the Alpha and the citizens opposed the Locust?? 😉

    Horton you are right about one thing, this is something we will have to work with our government officials on, and not Mr. Casey.

  25. I would be pleased if Mr. Casey would hire a creative architect and scale down the amount of houses that he plans to put in this canyon. Do we really want another Sagewood or what The Retreat appears to be ( a crowded development catering to over inhabited dwellings with 6 cars in the driveway)? Just think what this could be, if the developer had some imagination and put houses there that were individual and architecturally unique with sustainable components like rain water collection, solar power, and xeriscape lawns etc. Has anyone ever been to the woodlands? If the developers had real vision and put low impact housing with individual flair I think the neighbors would be elated. But, unfortunately one must follow the money, he probably could not make a profit if he had this kind of respect for the canyon. And it seems, that it really is, all about the money.

  26. Vincent,

    You are absolutely right regarding the damaging, heavy handed, come on
    in and get it City Council that Susan Narvaiz created. Protection of the neighborhood and environment (river) was never on the front burner. We really need to change the mindset and the direction we are to grow here in San Marcos. Objectively, we can’t add more apts to the North side. The car and pedestrian traffic and encroachment into the neighborhoods from more apts there cannot be remedied. The overhaul of the infrastructure necessary to accommodate more apts there would be a lose/win situation. Citizens would pay with bad traffic and higher infrastructure costs while developers would win and cash out on higher rents ($1000/bdrm). Traffic would have to filter through the neighborhoods because wider roads could not be built.

    Why don’t we end this little argument and have a win/win masterplan that simultaneously protects neighborhoods and community culture, adds more residential options to strengthen community(but not that is destructive to the river), and gives developers definite designated acceptable areas with which to safely plan and build multi-family multi-use, residential, commercial, et al…We first need to get rid of the old paradigms in the codes, at the city, in the apathy of the citizens. We could create a win/win situation here with all of the talent that I know we have. Let’s see it.

  27. One does wonder how many actual families will be inhabiting these single-family houses. Methinks Canyon Lover is onto something: “…over inhabited dwellings with 6 cars in the driveway.”

  28. Methinks Canyon Lover and the like should offer Casey enough money that he would sell them the land and then they can turn it into a nature preserve.

  29. It’s amazing how many creative (and financially unsound) ideas people are willing to suggest when it’s not THEIR money at stake, isn’t it?

    If you want the developer to make this place some little super-green oasis and “respect the canyon”, how about you kick him a quarter mil to make that happen? Get some skin in the game…..

  30. Well, I am so pleased that DC and Cjm, along with their poor, old, tired run down land owners have come up with yet another incompatible plan to mutilate one of the miost pristine, untouched canyons in our beautiful city! So very glad, that state law will prevent this student housing abortion, like that on the north end of Craddock, just beneath 3-5 K homes at one time, due to the fact that it is inconsistant with the surrounding established plats! Ah, so fun to watch the greedy flail about,. in their desperate struggle, to somehow justify their unsustainable insanity:-) Yes, it will take , most likely, 1.25 to 1.75 million to save this pristine jewel, I must wonder, if monsters, like DC and CJM, will yield to prudent wisdom, and let loose of this egotistical scheme, and let the citizens of San Marcos preserve this canyon by purchasing it, and making it a permanent private preserve? Time will tell, and where might I ask, will you be when the time comes to pony up and do the right thing? Plan ‘A”, stop DC and CYM, plan “B” , aquire and preserve this canyon for our future generations to cherish! Have a nice day! jlb 🙂

  31. Hey Dano,

    In the long run, these “green” ideas aren’t financially unsound. Fast forward 10 years, let’s say, and think about how much money might well to be spent trying to fix problems in the river(if it is even possible) that could easily been prevented. It’s analogous to spending a small amount in preventive health care now, or saving thousands later to treat a disease that could have been avoided. That money spent to try and remediate damage won’tcome out of a developer’s pocket, by the way. It will be a cost burden on state and local taxpayers. That’s me, and you.

    I agree that there should be a serious discussion about the need to, and the financial costs of, protecting watersheds and the recharge zones, and NOT expecting that burden to fall *solely* on the backs of individual landowners. Think agriculture exemptions, for example. We should all have some “skin in the game” since it is *our* environment. How that burden can be shared best -that will take time to sort out. The fair tradeoff though, in my mind, is that not every project that a landowner or developer may want will necessarily get approved.

  32. By the way, DC and CJM have made no attempt whatsoever, to allow those that wish to preserve this canyon to discuss what funds would be required! I have complete faith, that the cumalative energy and passion of those that truly care about our river, our neighborhoods, our unique river and surrounding environment, will rally to the mission of preserving them!!! Sometimes that which is most valued and appreciated takes ones complete faith and commitment to attain! I firmly believe that the time has come for our city leaders, our citizens, and those that support the vision of preserving and protecting that which is irreplaceable. We truly have a window of oppurtunity to do the right thing, before the irreversable damage is done and future generations are forced to suffer the consequences! I for one remain steadfast in my efforts to achieve this honorable goal, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable evil that opposes this beautiful vision! This is not now, and has never been a baseless vision, and is in no way an attack on all developements, only those that will forever diminish the very things that so many of us love with our hearts, minds, and souls. The light will always overcome the darkness, and peace will return to our midst once again.jlb 🙂

  33. I love our city and river, but all of you against this development are just soar losers. He has given you what you asked for, single family, and your still not happy. At ALL the meetings you said “stay with our master plan” I kept hearing from people, “we did our research before we spent our money” Why don’t you believe that this man tried to compromise with you?

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Casey, he tried to do his very best for the river according to all engineers involved, and he tried to compromise with you. Have any of gone to him with a plan showing him that your willing to compromise? NOT.

    He did and is doing his due-diligence, he wanted to help preserve the river, and he apparently cares for SM. Why are you condemning this man for wanting to make some money in the process? Being a capitalist is not really a bad thing.

  34. Jaimy, I would be glad to make a donation for the effort of purchasing the land. The recently voted spring lake preservation agreement will undoubtedly call for this type of move and more, see the article here in the mercury. I think it will go even further: the sessom creek will probably be restaured. I am not surprised that the builder is making such a push since this is one of the few places he can still take, for now…
    The problem is no offer can be made to the current owners since the casey team has made it first…with a plan B.

    By the way, I love pier and beam housing and cantilevered solutions when building on hills and watershed, that should be a standard written in the new master plan…there are solutions. I love cori’s idea on incentives for proper projects at the right place. folks are worrid that too strong regulations would keep builders away, this might keep them coming for the right reasons.
    I have seen springs dry up and seen springs become polluted. It is surprising how it sneaks up on you…

  35. @ j Horton…It ios unfortunate that the proper protections have not been put in place by present and prior officials to properly protect watershed areas that feed directly into the SM river. Building the most dense r-6 allows in this area is absolute greed and insanity, and will devastate all wildlife that lives there, all existing residents that live near there, and dramatically alter the watershed and it natural ability to cleanse the run off water, etc. A hideous developement, and to set the record straight, no one ever asked for a North Craddock style student housing abortion to be placed in one of the most pristine and untouched canyons in our city! DC and CJM obviously have no vision or proper insight as to what our city needs and what fits properly in and near established neighborhoods. This disgusting, destructive, greed driven plan is exactly what our city does not want or need, with the exception of the profiteers that have no regard for the natural order of the precious jewel that we were blessed with. I am sorry Mr Horton, but it is exactly these type of developements, and developers, that are destroying San Marcos, one piece of land at a time. Greed is surely the downfall of the weak and ignorant! I, we, will certainly do all that we can to ascertain the demise of this idiotic plan. It is my personal opinion, that this is no more than greed and spite, because the first nightmare that he proposed was soundly defeated! jlb 🙂

  36. If it were me, I’d probably take up a collection, and offer $250k for lots A1 & 3, D1, 3, & 5, and E5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, & 16 (or whichever ones suit you). Then, negotiate from there. See what kind of concessions you can get, as part of the deal, and call it a day. You thin out the density in the canyon, and maybe get some deed restrictions or xeriscaping, or something.

    Just a thought.

    Of course, if you have the $1-2 million to buy it all, I’m sure that could probably be arranged as well.

  37. good idea Ted. i have heard a few folks mentioning a capital improvement bond could help purchasing the lot,if done properly, it could hardly be a noticeable cost per citizen. Reading the article concerning the spring lake water preservation plan, i believe there is public and political will for such a move. The nature conservancy already helped quitea bit when the convention ctr was proposed on the spring lake hills, maybe they can do just a little more here on the sessoms canyon. With enough donation from the city (citizens), we could even ask for a matching contribution. OF course, none of this can happen if plan B goes trough…
    Mr. Ted Marchut suggestion may be one of the only “plan C” canyon defenders have.
    It makes me wonder about the relationship between Mr. Casey and this town. Like Jaimy said, it looks like greed is the driving force, forget the alma mater…forget the spring lake…forget the folks living in san marcos…there is money to be made…

  38. Why all this venom and bad words for Mr. Casey? Why are some of you guys bitching about greed? Do you not get paid for your job? I know that Mr. Casey already has a lot of money out on the preliminary costs for doing “plan A”. I imagine he is just trying to recoup some of the money he already has out of pocket on the project. I seriously doubt he will be able to make a profit if he plans to sell the lots.

    Who knows what he real plan is. If you stop for a moment and take the numbers that have been thrown out…$2 mil…and divide that by the number of lots proposed, that is $38,461 PER LOT, raw land cost. Then, add in the cost of infrastructure development and engineering plus profit, and the lot will be significantly higher than that. Not sure a lot of folks are going to pay $50-60k for a postage size lot on a super busy street next to a University.

    Some folks did not like Plan A. Well, guess what, there is nothing that can stop Plan B unless Mr. Casey decides to stop it. I would suggest that some of the more vocal folks against anything being developed there ought to go humbly “hand in hat” to Mr. Casey and try plead with him to sell you the land at a price where he gets out of it AND recoups his costs on plan A. If you keep spewing venom and talking bad about him here in the media, I doubt he will be willing to work with you. Otherwise, he is going to do what is best for his business. Doing anything less would be irresponsible.

    Remember, as presented here, there is NO argument against it that can stop it. At P&Z, we are statutorily required to approve as submitted if it meets the requirements of our code and does not ask for any variances. Even if we don’t like it, we can not legally vote against it!

  39. @ Jaimy. Part of your blaim lies at present and past councils for lack of protection of the watershed. Asking cause I do not know, was concern ever voiced for the specific area when zoning was being re-done by citizens to help bring attention to the extra protection needed? Again, referring to the specific area only. I missed catching it… way back when. We vote for them to represent us, but they need help as our peers in knowing what specific concerns are in the different areas of town. Our wonderful San Marcos is so diverse in many factors that it is unreasonable to expect they will be experts in everything. We are not either. So what education was done, or are you going to just blindly blame them cause you missed it too; like me?

  40. Curtis, a capital infrastructure improvement bond has not been a possibility while Casey has the land under contract. How bout the city helps us out in an effort to improve storm drainage in the area and minimize erosion and all the harmful effects any development would have in that canyon, AND at the former Rivendale’s site?? We aren’t rich developers, we are your citizens. I would be happy to go hand in hat to Casey and ask him to sell us the land for a Capital Improvement bond, but who am I to ask and assure it will happen ~ I’m no one. Restore your citizens faith in the city and have staff approach him ~ please. We need retention ponds in that area to collect the silt b/4 it hits the river, at the very least could you ask him to do that? This is not billy joe jim bob’s job to do, it’s the city’s job to do, we don’t know HOW to do it, nor do we possess the means to instill confidence in Casey that it will actually happen. I respect Casey for bringing plan A to the table, the most sophisticated and environmentally sound project we’ve probably ever seen ~ it was just the wrong place, it’s just too sensitive. Let him recoup his money via a bond and relocate to Spring Town mall which is on the computer bus route, or somewhere FLAT that doesn’t threaten the river w/ each rain. I heard grumblings of the City Hall area being offered to him and he didn’t bite. If he drops the contracts we could do this at very minimal cost per tax payer.

  41. No venom or bad words here. I am happy to see single family residences going in, and I think it would be a relatively simple matter to turn it into a home run, especially compared to the time and money it would take to keep it all undeveloped.

    I agree that it is going to be difficult to get $50k for these little lots. I don’t see it happening, but I could be wrong. I bet that if someone bought the lots I mentioned, and they were guaranteed to remain undeveloped, the adjoining lots would fetch higher prices – a potential win-win.

  42. Thanks, Cameron!! A total brain lapse on my part! If you went to him with “hand in hat” you may got shot by him thinking you were concealing a weapon!! Sorry about that!

  43. Melissa,

    First, I am not in favor of this becoming yet another city owned piece of land that is taken off the tax rolls. My suggestion was to the group that wants to buy it and turn it into a privately funded preserve.

    Secondly, I am just a lowly Planning and Zoning Commissioner. I do not have the ability to go and ask him for anything in that capacity. That would be more along the lines of what your city council members would be tasked with. We can only make recommendations when a project comes before us and even then, can only do so when there is a variance or change requested by the developer.

    Once the city rejected plan A (and yes, I voted against it), and he decided to exactly follow the rules as currently written and not ask for anything, we lost 100% of our bargaining power.

  44. There are at least two areas on the plat that I can see with my bad eyes and without enlarging the picture on this article that are marked “detention”. And I’m sure that detention/retention ponds are a required part of any plat that is submitted for development.

    I swear, you guys are going all Henny Penny on us and forgetting that there ARE measures in place that ensure that new development considers the environment….but I guess if you remembered that, you would lose one more thing to blame on Mr Casey…..

  45. I , Jaimy l. Briehan, posted a comment on the ” Protect San Marcos” Facebook page, describing my plans for the Sessom canyon property at question here. It has been a dream my entire life to do something to make the world we live in a better place. Am I an imperfect man,and lowly sinner? YES! Have I said and done things in my life that are less than admirable? YES! Have I learned from those innumerable mistakes? YES! Do I have many lessons yet still to learn? YES! OK, check out the facebook page, my plan is still to make every conceivable effort to aquire and preserve this canyon land, and then share it with the generations of people that will follow us. Is this a lofty goal? YES! Is it achievable? YES, depending on DC, CJM, and a multitude of beautiful souls, that have sacrificed in many ways already, to see this through and preserve the natural beauty of our beloved town/ city. Forgive me, if at times I have been too forceful with my comments, and acknowledge the falsehoods that have inspired those forceful retorts! May God forgive me, and inspire me to do that which lays ahead, for it is a noble and worthy desire to keep San Marcos a beautiful, environmentally sound little oasis! Peace to all! Jaimy L. Breihan, Common Citizen 🙂

  46. Too funny on the “hand in hat”, I repeated your brain lapse Curtis, and yes I would expect to at least be tazed if I did that 🙂

    Thanks for you thoughtful reply Curtis, plans are underway now to follow your suggestion. It has been considered throughout this whole process, but we never really thought it possible until some new light was shed upon it in the last 24 hours.

    I appreciate you no vote, I really do, and I appreciate your input in helping those of us opposed to development in the canyon see that really our only option at this point is to pony up. Thank you too for being respectful in your input as others have been so caustic I can’t even listen to what they are saying b/c their venom towards us causes them to lose all credibility for what they have to say IMO.

    Jaimy, love your last heartfelt post ~!!

  47. Curtis,
    Which part of bad traffic, high infrastructure costs,inability to widen the roads, environmentally sensitive area, many San Marcos citizens don’t want it there, greedy developers (also can fill in carpet baggers here)that don’t live here or care, etc…, is not clear? You know that it’s wrong to vote this thing the way that it is presented. I heard that you were a pious man. Please, stand up for San Marcos and it’s future. Don’t give us a future that we cannot manage.

    It is time to act for San Marcos now! Help us make a nice place to live and raise children. Help build our community not dilute it. Oh, and when you guys talk about spending our tax dollars for the good of the city, show me the analysis. Do the due diligence that should be required. Don’t bitch when you are spending our money and we check you for it. And talking about money, we are not a BUSINESS, we are a city. More taxes does not equal what is good for San Marcos. It’s not always about money making! On Casey: Casey is an investor, it’s his job as you say. We didn’t promise him a rose garden. It’s his risk, don’t feel so sentimental about his loss. He makes tons of money from building here in San Marcos already, and his interest in a fracking sand strip mine.

    So, Shouldn’t you represent us? Help us create a good master plan that will end these arguments and represent San Marcos! No spot zoning into neighborhoods, environmentally sensitive areas, crowding houses too tight, unmanageable traffic situations. Look at the bylaws and rules that the P&Z was created to do. Diversity, representation,leadership, planning. Thanks for the no vote on the original Casey plan Curtis. Let’s work together to create a wonderful vision of San Marcos.

  48. Noi-Dano,

    I am not sure if you are aware of how plats work. If a developer presents a plat to a city’s decision making body that meets all of the requirements of a city’s development codes and does not ask for any land use changes or zoning changes, then that city’s decision making body is required by State Law to approve the plat. In the case of the project in this article, it will be submitted to the City of San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission, who, in the City of San Marcos, is the final decision making body for the city on platting issues. It is the the charge and responsibility of the Planning and Zoning Commission to determine if the presented plat meets the requirements. If it is determined to meet the requirements, then the Planning and Zoning Commission, BY STATE LAW, must approve the plat.

    It has nothing to do with the stuff you mention in the first paragraph so please, don’t try to put the burden of not standing up for San Marcos on MY shoulders or of the shoulders of any other planning and zoning commissioner.

    And for the record, just so you know how things work…the Planning and Zoning Commission does not deal with “spending tax dollars”. That is the job of the City Council so your commentary in the first part of paragraph 2 above should not be directed towards me as you have done.

  49. No-Dano,

    I must apologize for messing up your handle in the above post! It was a typo and not intentional. Also, I have just come back and re-read my reply above. To me, it now reads as a little disrespectful and a touch smart ass. I did not intend it that way when I originally wrote it so please don’t take it that way.

  50. Hey, I have a “fan”. Awesome!

    Curtis, your reply to no-dano was spot on. Whoever this cat is, he or she is grasping at straws – as all opponents of Mr Casey’s currently are.

    These folks didn’t listen when some of the more cognizant folks in town warned them that if they shot down Casey’s original plan for that site they might like what ended up there even less. Granted, we were referring to University occupancy, but the point remains.

    Perhaps many of them are wishing they hadn’t taken all of Casey’s concessions and thrown them in his face now…..they wanted “letter of the law” and that looks like what they’ll be getting.

    Well, that’s what they *claimed* they wanted anyway. It now appears that what they *really* wanted was for that property to not be developed at all – never mind the financial burden to its actual owners.

  51. I also agree your response was NOT disrespectful or a touch smart ass. It was informative of the processes, which you had in an earlier response, but apparently needed to be reinforced. Thank you your service to the community even though you don’t have almighty say so.

  52. I have not seen an answer yet. Did anyone foresee the need to affect zoning in this specific area BEFORE Casey became involved in buying the property? Has there been false blame for who is responsible or are “we” all at fault for not paying attention to this sensitive area when there was time to do something about it?

  53. Bpic, we are at fault for sure, we had any idea that the rezoning to F6 in single family applied to the whole city, including environmentally sensitive areas. All that can be done at this point is to work hard to see that this is changed and educate ourselves on the watershed and hope the city will see the need to hire an engineer to assist in proper development codes in such areas. Live and learn 🙂

  54. For anyone who is interested…

    At our last P&Z Meeting, I asked to have the City Attorney give us a presentation at a future meeting regarding the law and how it relates to planning and zoning. . I know one of the things I asked them to address is spot zoning and what can and can not be done.

    This coming Tuesday, P&Z will begin at 5:30 with a “workshop” presented by the City Attorney’s Office. The workshop is entitled “Presentation and discussion regarding the law applicable to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s consideration of zoning and land use cases.”. If you are interested in the law, you might want to attend!

  55. I love it when some samples of humanity refer to themselves as being intellectually superior to other samples of humanity, reinforced by only money and power, lacking actual substance of substantiated knowledge! ” Cognizant” , give me a break~! No one ever asked for ‘Any” type of student housing to replace a beautiful canyon, and yes, adjoining/ nearby landowners do have legal rights also! One mportant word to remember, ” Consistant” with adjoining land uses…. Hopefully DC and CJM will respond, if and when a reasonable offer is made to purchase this 14+ acres, including the tired homes that the tired, broke, worn out owners can no longer maintain and preserve, according to their ” documented” testimonies.MAy God answer the prayers of a multitude of passionate, concerned, and dedicated citizens that have sacrificed their time, families, and resources to find a better solution for the future conservation of this little patch of nature. It has somehow survived, relatively unchanged, for generations, and hopefully will remain so for many more to yet come! I , we, hold no malice in our hearts towards the landowners that want out, and only hope for a solution that will relieve them of stewardship, and transfer it to new stewards! This is surely a noble cause, even as seemingly insurmountble as the facts are that stand against it. JLB 🙂

  56. I prefer claims of intellectual superiority reinforced by the facts, myself.

    It’s clear that you care deeply what happens to this piece of land. I’m sure that others do as well. Some probably even care for reasons not having to do with their own self-interest.

    But no one cared enough to put together a proposal to do the only thing you can do to ensure that the land stays undeveloped – buy it. Someone else bought it, and now that you don’t like what he plans to do with it….well, there’s no other way to say it other than “tough”.

  57. I was going to stay out of this, but now I’m stumpped. How is what Mr. Casey doing unconstitutional? I could see how some ways of trying to stop Mr. Casey from doing this would be unconstitutional.

  58. I wish the land could remain unspoiled. Its very pretty back in there. Plus, there are too many uncertainties about the creek and river. But if it must be developed, build a single family neighborhood we can be proud of. Unique homes tucked away and surrounded by all those beautiful trees. Build something charming if you must build. Something that will attract new homeowners to our city. Six homes per acre? Sessom Creek, the next Sagewood.

  59. It is quite unfortunate that the only developer/owners interest in these properties is to maximize profits from their plans. To some degree, land owner rights hold water in this matter, including the adjoining land owners! Just read Section Aplicability and Adjacency Criteria, and decide for yourself, as the P+D Dept. and the city attorney will be required to do. Yes Ted, it is time that developers start realizing that student housing is/ has destroyed areas of our town that they should of never been allowed to exist in, no doubt! The future will have no choice but to be different, the day of clear cutting watershed areas and destroying the value of adjacent established neighborhoods is now one of the past, the letter of the law will be acknowledged here foward, if those that are responsible for enforcing it want to avoid lengthy litigation. There is a way for all citizens to move forward, together, should greed be set aside, and no longer held as the dictating factor in land use issues.Speaking for myself, I just want to have the assurance that the investment in my home, meager as it is, shall not be diminished by the aggressive and destructive behaviors of surrounding land owners. Attempts are being made to put together the funding required to resolve this matter, by purchasing the 14+ acres, which is no small challenge.JLB 🙂

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