For those of you just joining us, you may be wondering what all of the fuss is about. Here is a recap:
A proposed development by Darren Casey of Casey Development, Ltd. will build a 1,008-bed apartment complex with retail space on the first floor over 14 acres of land that currently sits on top of Sessom Creek.
Sessom Creek flows directly into the headwaters of the San Marcos River and is just outside of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. In the image below you can see the proposed development in red with the creek running right through the middle. The developer has designated this portion of the land as park land since the creek runs through a steep canyon and cannot be built upon. The blue line surrounds the watershed area of the creek and the green line surrounds the boundary of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone in San Marcos.
The San Marcos River foundation commissioned an engineer to assess the environmental impact that this development would create. In her report Dr. Lauren Ross concluded that “[b]ecause of the size of the development, its high impervious cover, and its location in a sensitive headwaters area, and its location on and adjacent to steeply-sloping land, the potential likelihood of erosion, flooding and water quality degradation is correspondingly high.” You can download the full report here.
In addition to environmental concerns, many residents are concerned about the increase to traffic on an already overburdened Sessom Rd. It is already nearly impossible to drive on Sessom between 8am-6pm on most days. Now imagine adding 4,000+ more cars going in and out of this apartment complex every day (assuming 1,000 residents making 2 round-trips per day). That’s not including traffic to the proposed retail shops, assuming they ever become occupied.
People are also worried that the ever increasing number of multi-family housing in our neighborhoods are threatening the last few single-family neighborhoods we have left in our city.
So, What’s Happened So Far?
Before this development can proceed, the land must be rezoned from single-family to multi-family. As we mentioned here, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning commission were deadlocked in their vote to approve the rezoning. Since they were not able to send any recommendation to the city council, the council is not allowed to consider the motion themselves. So, back we go to P & Z. The next scheduled meeting for the P & Z is on January 10, 2012. The agenda has not been posted, but we will keep our eyes peeled for it.
Update 1/13/12: The P & Z voted 5-2 to approve the rezoning and development of the Sessom Creek land. Next up is the City Council vote on 1/17/12. The city council will need a supermajority vote of 6-1 in order to approve the motions.
The City Council tonight voted 4-3 against approving the Sessom Creek development! Council members Thomason, Prather, and Becak voted in favor of the rezoning, while Thomaides, Scott, Porterfield and Mayor Guerrero voted against. More info can be found on statesman.com.
Here’s an article from the San Marcos Mercury about the vote: http://smmercury.com/52807/hundreds-pack-city-hall-to-fight-rezoning/
After the motion to approve failed, Council member John Thomaides made a motion to deny, which would have stopped the project for one year. However, no one else would second the motion and the developer subsequently withdrew the rezoning request. So, they may bring up a modified request in the near future.
So what happens next? It’s unclear for now, but we’ll update this place when we know more.
The San Marcos Mercury has done a great job of covering this issue so far. Here are some links to their articles on the subject: