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

June 18th, 2013
Sessom Drive development is DOA at San Marcos council


Darren Casey needed six of seven San Marcos City Council votes to approve a luxury shopping and housing complex he wants to build on Sessom Drive across from Texas State University. Last month, the Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously voted to recommend denial. It did not take long Tuesday night for it to become clear that the proposal had no chance of approval from the council:


















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39 thoughts on “Sessom Drive development is DOA at San Marcos council

  1. Thomason said he usually opposes motions to deny, preferring to decline approval instead of approving denial. There’s an important distinction. But he didn’t say he would vote against Thomaides’ motion, just that he normally opposes such motions.

  2. Yep. I’ll give him credit. It’s a vote for his principles, that will almost certainly be used against him, if he runs again.

  3. I have a feeling that this decision – and especially John T’s addendum banning consideration for three years – is going to end up costing the City a lot of money. Who’s the City lawyer again?

  4. Dano,

    My instinct too says that Casey will take this to court with an argument along the lines that city staff applied higher standards to Casey’s project than they have to others (including Casey’s own project the first time around).

    Don’t know if he has a case but he will be helped by John T’s amendment, which definitely contributes to the impression that Casey was singled out for political reasons. I’m sure John was just being characteristically show-boaty and short-sighted but Ryan also bolstered Casey’s case last night with his comments about the city’s “moving target.” In addition, council members were wanting to skip staff presentations and the public hearing and go straight to the voting which doesn’t really suggest they were concerned about due process.

    If you’re right, Dano, about a forthcoming lawsuit, last night could not have gone better for Casey.

  5. Economic growth in San Marcos is both necessary and desirable, while physical growth is inevitable. Rampant development, regardless of neighborhood costs and long-term consequences, as evidenced by painful experience will most certainly lead to future long term regret (Ex; Sagewood). Thanks to all who saw this Sessom Creek project for the long term, short-sighted detriment that it was. Fortunately we, as a sustainable quality-of-life conscious community, appear to be finally coming to our senses.

  6. Whether one agrees with the three year amendment or not, it’s undeniable this particular project has taken an enormous amount of time and energy from the city staff and residents. This project – *in this particular location* – has been rejected, not once, but twice, at almost every step of the way. My take on the amendment was that JT was trying to give everyone involved some breathing room to think about other things – like dealing with all the other aspects of rapid City growth .

    And that includes Mr. Casey….opponents of the Sessom project made it quite clear last night that they are eagerly waiting for him to get started on Concho Commons and his other project on Thorpe Lane. Both of those have the potential to be real assets for San Marcos. I hope he moves forward on them and chooses to forgo litigation for a location where he’s clearly been told “NO, thank you.” There’s always hope : )

  7. Cori,

    Based on Matthew Lewis’ answers to Thomason’s questions last night, it’s obvious that the staff has developed a pretty comprehensive explanation of why they rejected Sessom 2013 and recommended Sessom 2012. City staff definitely was not unaware that this case had a higher-than-usual probability of ending up in court whatever the outcome so maybe they’ve covered their bases.

    I think Thorpe Lane is seriously on its way already. I hope Concho Commons happens as well.

  8. I don’t know. If I’m Casey at this point, I would be tempted to let the other two areas blight and then throw those McHouses into the Sessom Creek property.

    He worked VERY hard to make sufficient compromises for the Sessoms development to work and all he got from the other side was the same bull-headed opposition. He gave yards while the other side never budged an inch. I guess he shouldn’t have been surprised though – “Not here, not now, not ever” doesn’t exactly come across as a position that’s open for negotiation or compromise.

    Sad, really. And even sadder that Council was so willing to bend on the matter that not only did they not really even give the project a fair hearing, they also went out of their way to make sure Casey knew that his project simply wasn’t welcome.

    I predict that the three year deal WILL bite the City in the butt, big-time. But at least John T’s little move guaranteed him some more votes come election time – and when it comes down to it, all any of them are *really* worried about is getting re-elected, right?

  9. I’d still like to see some expertise brought to bear, re: what would make for a suitable buffer there, what kind of development the roads could support, and what (if anything) our options are for increasing the capacity on Sessom, because I’m sure something is going to be proposed there, and we really ought to be able to make more informed decisions.

    On a side note, it was discouraging to hear that he proposed another under-parked development, particularly if the connecting roads to the adjoining neighborhood were going to remain. That overflow parking is just about a guaranteed nuisance, until the city gets resident parking permits in place. It also makes me wonder how the retailers were going to survive.

    I don’t think the three-year freeze (or whatever you want to call it) was the best idea, but other than that, I have no problem with a development (or anything else brought to council) being denied. That’s their prerogative.

  10. Here is a tip – Citizens get THREE MINUTES TO SPEAK. The Mayor does not have to let you finish your sentence. And, when he says “finish your sentence” this does not mean go on and on…it means FINISH YOUR SENTENCE. Another tip, rehearse and time your speech so that it does not go over THREE MINUTES.

    Thank you to the Mayor for being so polite last night.

  11. Dano, “If I’m Casey at this point, I would be tempted to let the other two areas blight and then throw those McHouses into the Sessom Creek property.” this really gives insight into your character. Good luck with that.

  12. Let’s not rush to judge my character now – “If” and “maybe” are powerful words….consider the following:

    IF Aunt Tillie had a mustache, she would be Uncle Bert; or

    IF the neighborhood had been willing to negotiate in good faith, MAYBE a deal could have been reached; or

    IF LMC was really as smart as she thinks she is, MAYBE she would have won an election by now.

  13. Well, it appears that the City Council and P&Z are doing there job finally, which is to regulate zoning changes. Zoning changes should pass the health, safety, and welfare benchmarks. Sessoms Creek “Community” did not meet the benchmark; moreover, a lawsuit by Casey would be frivolous at this point. the neighborhood has proven by a preponderance of data, research, that the project would be expensive for the City and detrimental for students and homeowners.

  14. Dano:

    IF the neighborhood had been willing to negotiate, the outcome for them would have been the same: a giant student complex in their quiet neighborhood and a nightmare for the SM River.

    MAYBE you should imagine how your life would change IF something like that were to be built in your neighborhood.

  15. Been there; seen that. I also understood why it happened. In the end, I didn’t like it so I moved. That option exists for everyone.

    Common sense tells me that you can’t live across the street from a major university and expect not to have your life impacted by the student population. It’s also borderline insane to expect that life in our neighborhoods will not change dramatically because of the explosive growth in this town…..whether it’s the student population or carpetbaggers, people are moving to this area in record numbers.

    The days of San Marcos being a sleepy little Hill Country town are gone – and they ain’t coming back. People need to start getting used to that idea.

  16. Dano,

    If the citizens wanted it, it would have happened. Let the process take its course and be settled with it. This is not Austin where neighborhoods are being overrun by big business or hotels. Let it be the town the people want and not Austin Jr.

    Love the crack on LMC though! Couldn’t agree with you more on that!

  17. Wow, it’s only been three threads since you mentioned “lost” city council races. Such a brilliant substantive argument to your claim creating blight on purpose …blab la whatever your argument is…besides a reflection of poor character and lack of respect for San Marcos as a community of neighbors with a vested interest in their property and the environment.

    Here is a tip for you Dano, its called winning when one maintains their integrity and not being funded by special interests. I encourage you to watch the debates between Mr. Thomason and myself. He was soundly beat. And, he lost by a very small margin, what 200 votes in a runoff. NOT a mandate from the people. And, you will also note all the items he was in favor back in 2009 regarding zoning are the exact mechanisms allowing these sorts of developments which threaten the environmental and archeological significance of our community.

    “It’s also borderline insane to expect that life in our neighborhoods will not change dramatically because of the explosive growth in this town” No Danno it is insane to create for cosmetics road construction work downtown (not hiring local San Marcos residents) when the runoff gets in the river when one could have used that financial investment as leverage for the TCEQ to clean up the PERC toxic waste plume. It is insane to develop over a place the Clovis held dear and conduced Spiritual ceremonies where endangered species exists and where the river is the only barrier between the development and yet another….PCE plume. There’s lots of insanity going on and it ain’t the neighbors taking time out of their busy lives to protect their financial investment and speak on behalf of the unique ecological situation we have here with the San Marcos river. And it is downright disrespectful to use words such as “insane” to describe all the wonderful speakers last night. (just keep to your 3 minutes please)

    Talk about a chicken, you don’t even use your own name on a message board and do you even live in San Marcos? Anytime you want to debate in public, Brad has my number…chicken. You can pick any topic you’d like “Dano.” Toodles sore looser.

  18. I was hoping not to have to do this, but since you went there…..

    Perhaps your memory of the last election is faulty. Ryan thrashed you in the general election, almost doubling your vote total. The only reason there was a run-off was that Maycock split the vote and kept Ryan a couple votes shy of 50%. Then in the runoff it was a 60/40 split – a pretty decisive result in the political arena. Chris Jones beat you about as badly the time before that. So play like it was close if it helps you sleep at night, but you’ve never come close to winning a seat on Council. And yet you call *me* a “sore loser?” (well, actually, you said “looser”, which makes no sense)

    You’re like that old lady at the end of the block who watches her neighbors all the time and calls the police or the HOA whenever anyone does something she doesn’t like – except you’ve expanded your “reach” to all of San Marcos.

    You’re a professional agitator, always up in someone else’s business, claiming it’s your business because of some moonbatty environmental concern. You file open records requests more often than most people brush their teeth and you bother City and County staff incessantly whenever there’s a perceived “environmental violation”. You should get frequent guest privileges at the county clerk’s office.

    And then you wonder why you can’t get elected? Or why most people don’t take you seriously? You have to learn to pick your fights and not fight everything all the time….because when people do that, they lose credibility and just become pains-in-the-neck (or somewhere south of the neck).

  19. oh please Dano, Mr. Jones beat me by 10 percent. FIVE THOUSAND residents cast ballot for my campaign which was funded with less than $500.00 loosing by 10%. Nice try. Ryan won by a short margin. My loss was no less than any other recent runoff election. Try to spin it. Nice sneaky move removing the Victory Gardens box folks. The last time that box was in action was for the runoff. Way to go GI forum protecting voting rights of Hispanics…NOT. FACT both Mr. Jones and Mr. Thomason were SOUNDLY beat in those debates. Oh and regarding the runoff with Ryan 1,138 people, or 4 percent of those registered voted. NOT a mandate from the people. Considering 5000 voters had cast ballot for me in 2008.

    Say what you want about Open Records Requests. Staff have no problem with me and you know it. FACT, is that the Open Records Requests generate lots of interesting facts such as the runoff from the construction. FACT is the Open Records requests get actual work done behind the scenes without photo ops in the Mercury. Where is Open San Marcos? Consider all the staff time Mr. Casey has wasted hence the three year wait time. And, all the time residents have waisted fighting this development. The only reason why i don’t “win” is because I don’t sell out to special interests. If attacking someone who has taken the time to run makes you feel good, have at it. But, we all know your a chicken bawk bawk because you won’t come debate me in public. Sore looser who uses personal attacks to advance whatever agenda you have. And, you don’t even live in San Marcos do you. Glad you love San Marcos so much you want blight on purpose. bawk bawk Dano who does not have the guts to use his real name on a little ole online forum.

    PS Chris got elected because we helped him. Mr. Scott got elected because we helped him. The Mayor won the first time because we helped him. You know nothing about local politics chicken. Your advocacy online does nothing to further discussion, so please take me up on the offer for a public debate so we can discuss these issues. Lets see how smart you are in a public forum.

  20. One must really take what these “past candidate wannabees” say with a grain of salt.;-) I did however take the opportunity to interject the Concho Commons discussion into the debate at city council last year sometime, with accompanying references to the extensive parking variances, and other accommodations that were specially granted for that Casey project well over five years ago. The razed, bare, open-fenced field right in the middle of our downtown/campus renovations, definitely constitutes an eyesore, with all the accoutrements of chronic urban blight. We can only hope that San Marcos isn’t to be subjected to another spite-driven “Too Bitter” situation.

  21. I won’t “come debate you in public” because I don’t see any point in it. (a) you’re already thoroughly convinced that you’re right (as evidenced by your “FACTS” posted above – which aren’t necessarily facts so much as they are your opinions) and (b) who the hell really cares what either of us has to say anyway?

    You’re making a big deal about how you “took time to run”, but you didn’t do that for the City. You did it for yourself. You are an idealist – and when idealists run for office, it’s not to serve the community. It’s so they can gain a platform and a louder voice to push their pet issues (in your case, the tree hugging stuff).

    That’s why idealists lose so often – the public wants “servants” more than it wants “leaders.” But I guess in the idealist’s mind, they only lost because “they didn’t sell out to special interests.” At least you stopped short of the gold standard excuse of “the public wasn’t educated enough to get my message”.

    You mention “personal attacks”, but then in the same breath you turn around and call me “chicken” and “loser” (well, you keep saying “looser”, but I think you mean “loser”)….pot, meet kettle?

    And since you keep bringing it up – no I do not live in San Marcos. I live *just* outside the City Limits. But I do own two businesses and multiple rental properties in town, so I’m definitely invested in its success. Do YOU happen to own property in San Marcos? I can’t find anything under your name on the HaysCAD website…..

  22. AWW isn’t that special Dano has run out of personal attacks to launch….C’mon Dano i’m waiting for our debate so we can all see how you defend development. We will all know who controls your little strings and who your puppets are. It doesn’t surprise me SM wanna be since the 90’s your judges have made the vote. Are they same election judges who made it difficult for voters to cast ballot for Melissa’s write in campaign? I watched it with my own eyes and heard the reports of the voting shennagans of those that personally witnessed said behavior and reported it to Joyce. Kinda like your taking away the Victory Garden’s voting box in 2009.

    In sum trolls like you do nothing but complain that your little financial interests are hurt by when outside developers don’t get their way. Take your toys and go home. You even support creating blight on purpose. You don’t stand for protecting our community. You just stand for your own pockets and own special interests. What kind of businesses do you own? Because most small business owners are fearful of retaliation. There are bets going on who you are….we’ve got a pretty good idea. See you at the next P&Z Dano since your to much of a chicken to take my invitation for a debate. Brad could live stream it for all to see.

    Let’s get it all out in the open, versus you hiding behind a name on the Mercury.

    Oh and about calling people….ask your buddy Ryan why he used the fire marshall with a trumped up charge on my lawn. Thanks to the COSM for seeing beyond Ryan’s retaliation tactics. When he had barrels sitting outside for months on one of his construction sites. RIGHT DOWNTOWN.

    I am thankful to the Mercury. Because in the 80s all these shady behaviors were difficult to advise the public. Now we can get it all out in the open. To bad your to chicken to use your real name. For someone who purports to know so much about the business dealings in town,your not to tough are you when it comes to self disclosing your real name. Maybe its because your a chicken bwak bwak!

  23. Oh Lisa, I’ll never run out of personal attacks as long as you keep giving me so much material.

    In any event, I don’t know who you think you’ve figured out that I am, but I guarantee that you’re wrong. You wouldn’t know me from Adam. I don’t go to Council or P&Z meetings, and the last place you’re likely to find me is standing on a picket line protesting the “treatment” of Trayvon Martin. And since you’re wrong about who I am, I can also guarantee that you’re wrong about “who controls my strings” or “who my puppets are”. So can I get some of that action in the “who is Dano” pool?

    I’ll give you a hint: politically, I’m a “nobody”. Never ran for office, never intend to. And as I said before, I’m not someone that you’ve ever met at a Council or P&Z meeting. I’m just a business owner trying to make a life for my family here in San Marcos….and I happen to think that your line of thought is absolutely detrimental to the continued growth and prosperity of this town.

    Your whole diatribe is more than a little embarrassing to read. I don’t like you (this much you’re right about), but even I’m starting to feel sorry for you because you’re making such a fool of yourself here.

    I don’t particularly feel like disclosing my real name here or anywhere on the internet – mostly because (like you said) “fear of retaliation”. But I don’t fear retaliation from anyone other than the local moonbat brigade. You think I want to tell you my name so I can have the EPA start showing up at my door with a complaint from LMC twice a week through the end of time? No thanks.

    To the point about my “financial interests” – you’re damn right I want to argue for my financial interests. I have a significant investment in this town and I want to see it continue to bear fruit. Why should my “financial interest” be any less important than your “environmental interest”? Answer: it isn’t. Your kind labels any interest that isn’t your own as a “special interest”…but you’re the one with the agenda.

  24. Yep, it is embarrassing. The behavior of election judges, the behavior of those running for office, the behavior of developers, the behavior of some of our elected officials. Thank you to the Mercury for a forum to let the public know. The debate invitation stands open. To bad you like to use personal attacks as a justification for your cowardice for public discourse.

  25. The platted subdivision will never be developed. It is topographically challenged.

    There may be a lawsuit, but the City should get it dismissed for lack of standing as Casey does not own the property.

    As for LMC and Dano, the horse is dead, the vultures and ants have cleaned the bones and they are bleached by the sun. The handle horse is dead.

  26. Don’t give up Lisa! I think Dano is on the ropes and is about to give in to your sophisticated powers of intimidation! Me and Winchester will park ourselves ringside with a nice cooler full of IPA’s and cheer you on.

  27. We may have had some disagreements in the past SM, but I’m with you on this one. A nice IPA sounds like a great idea.

  28. Dear Dano,

    Can I haz sum mohr trolling LMC pleez?

    – Everyone who ever reads the comments on the Mercury

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