Dec 302011
 

I am so grateful for so many gifts of life as this year ends and 2012 begins!

The welling up of “community” has been one of the greatest Joys to witness and be a part of. This letter I got this morning from Lee, and it says it all with such Heartfelt Words–it inspires me on to Shine with the Stars Lighting All around me.

Thank you! ALL!! Nancy

 

Hi, Thought of sending an encouragement to act, since we aren’t having meetings yet. ~ Lee A. Cantu

 

Dear friends of the Sacred Springs,

Before the Thanksgiving holidays we had our last official meeting and I’d voiced a need to stay focused on SSA. Then I saw that the springs are directly linked to Sessom Creek project because the creek watershed drains directly into the waters below Spring Lake. It’s all part of the same system, so this may seem overwhelming with of all the proposed growth in this area. It’s all part of the Edwards Aquifer recharge system and is protected by EAA. So take heart, there are alternatives to destroying the springs and their eco-systems. Other places have viable waterways and strive to keep them that way, like N. Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

This is not a statement against commerce but a plea for the river and the springs that feed her. Yes, water is a natural resource, but let’s not use it so that we might use it up. Let’s remember that it’s a finite source and not an infinite one. There are areas like S. Carolina and Colorado where they expect water shortages to be statewide by 2013. According to the city of Aspen, Co. Clean water sight, “As development increases, more area is paved and less rainwater can soak into the ground. This creates more storm water which carries pollutants to our waterways. Any activities that can create storm water pollution must be prevented or minimized. “ This sounds familiar from recent council meetings, where people sighted a need to preserve our ecology. It’s familiar to me because I was here in the flood of 1998 living on the Martindale Dam. Much of San Marcos was flooded too but this is where we took refuge. Please let’s help each other; beauty and money don’t h

ave to be mutually exclusive. Let’s find a way that we can make this a win/win situation. There are video games that people have created to overcome disease and save lives. Let’s create a game that can save the river, call it WildSprings.com, or if you have a better title suggest it. Speak out for the springs/river, even if you are not from San Marcos and only plan to be here a few years. Speak out because it matters, because your voice matters and you can be a resource for nature. We are connected to the earth and the waters as they flow through this town. Your voice matters let it be heard, please protect the springs now, today! Try searching Travis Audubon, sierraclub.org, natureconservancy.org, or any other sight you have read about harmony between nature and people. Then focus on possibility not fear and limitation.

We can protect nature and continue to survive, even thrive in its presence. Let us be a presence for nature and for a secure and safe future for all of us. Write to the council members, news papers, Austin Ecological Services – in less than one week the San Marcos city council votes on Planning and Zoning changes. Let them know how you feel. This is the time to let your voice be heard.

Love and light, Lee

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. ~ Frederick Buechner

Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilites become limitless. ~ Jamie Paolinetti

Dec 302011
 

December 23, 2011
Danger ahead: Sessom development, others threaten city
Jay Hiebert

— Editor,

My name is Jay Hiebert and I moved with my parents to San Marcos in 1971, when I was 11 years old. I have lived and travelled the world over returning six years ago to San Marcos. But whenever asked where home was, I always responded San Marcos, Texas, with its ice cold spring lake and crystal clear river. Today, the city that I call home is under attack like never before with the risk that the ice cold spring lake and crystal clear river be polluted and destroyed by the proposed Texas State University North Campus project by the Casey Development Group, Carter John Morris and the Randall Morris Reality group.

“Figures Lie and Liars Figure,” a quip attributed to Mark Twain, popped into mind when I read the projected annual financial impact of $750,000 from the Texas State University North Campus development project for the city of San Marcos. As someone who has worked with numbers in my professional career, I call on City Council to exercise extreme care in their due diligence analysis of this proposal and opportunity.

One of the major concerns of the citizens is that Casey Development will flip this property to Texas State University, and the built in revenue assumptions totally evaporate, as Texas State would remove this taxable property from the city of San Marcos tax rolls. However, even before this could occur, the revenue assumptions are suspect upon deeper analysis. It is believed the city would have to upgrade the water systems, the sewage systems as well as the storm water drainage culverts between the top of Sessoms Creek and the San Marcos River below.

The Traffic Impact Analysis submitted by Casey Development and prepared by Kimley-Horn has several material weaknesses in its design and interpretation, as it presents total peak hour traffic generation of only 502 peak hour trips (table 3, page 11). The traffic impact is significantly understated due the erroneous assumptions built into the report. These errors arise from the timing of the traffic study, the reference source and the reduction factors applied.

Kimley-Horn conducted a field reconnaissance of existing traffic patterns on Tuesday morning November 1, 2011. Is a field reconnaissance report, spending 4 hours counting cars, sufficient to support a proposed $63 million investment? While a typical Tuesday morning is typical day for this type of analysis, this Tuesday, following Halloween night, results in a significant understatement of traffic in the morning hours. I make this assertion as an adjunct instructor at Texas State University with an 8 a.m. class on this day, and I recall approximately half of my class failing to appear. Thus, I would project that the traffic on Sessoms was also reduced by this same factor. Additionally, the National Weather Service reported fog on this morning.

Kimley-Horn used the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Trip Generation Manual, 8th edition, calculates that the number of incremental peak traffic trips resulting from the addition of more than 1,000 residents in Texas State University North Campus Complex to be only 502 trips. Whereas the Texas Transportation Institute uses a trip generation factor of over six trips per day per car. As this complex is planned to be high end, it is with certainty that every single resident will own their own automobile. This would result in more than 6,000 incremental and probably peak trips per day. This is an astounding difference of almost 5,500 trips per day or a more than 1,000 percent difference between what the project engineers project and the Texas Transportation Institute projects. This discrepancy alone should cause the City Council to vote against this project in its current form.

Lastly, I challenge the assumption of trip reduction factors both from the ITE Trip Generation Manual as well as the additional trip reduction factor of 25 percent per instruction of the city of San Marcos’s traffic department. Again, as an adjunct instructor with a scientific survey of one, students do not walk, ride bikes or take the bus, whenever they have the slightest opportunity to drive their own automobile. One of the greatest retention issues at Texas State University centers on the ability of the Texas State University students to park their cars.

An additional point, one much harder to understand is the inclusion or exclusion of planned growth in the TIA assumptions. As of Dec. 12, there are a total of 30 proposed apartment complexes spread throughout San Marcos with a total count of 14,910 beds, of which 5,621 of these beds are bounded by Sessoms, Franklin, Craddock and LBJ streets. All incremental traffic from said beds would flow down either Sessoms or LBJ and ending up at the intersection of Aquarena Springs Drive and Sessoms.

The City Traffic Department has not studied this in a systematic manner as can be evidenced by the city of San Marcos’ Environment and Engineering Center’s has not updated its permit tables since 2008 and its Development Map since January 2009. Thus, I call upon City Council to vote against the Casey Development’s proposed Texas State University North Campus project and to consider a citywide moratorium on all changes in zoning until the City Engineering Department can complete a comprehensive study of the impacts of said developments upon the city infrastructure and quality of life.

In closing, I would like to refer to Chapter 4 of the City of San Marcos’ Horizons Development Plan. “A key element in the Future Land Use Plan is the discouragement of development in the environmentally sensitive areas in San Marcos, such as along the San Marcos River, Blanco River, creeks and the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.” This is further supported by policy LU-2-3: the city shall strive on a continuing basis to purchase or otherwise set aside as much land as possible along the San Marcos River, Blanco River and creeks, especially that area within the 100 year flood plain and develop that land as contiguous greenbelts.

Jay Hiebert is a resident of San Marcos.

Dec 142011
 

We want to share a letter from a San Marcos resident that was sent to the P&Z commissioners about the Sessom creek development. We encourage everybody to send an email to the city council expressing your opinion on the matter, especially if you can’t make it to city hall tonight, or don’t feel comfortable speaking in public. Email addresses for each member of the council can be found on the city’s website, and we’ll provide a list at the bottom of this post as well.

Here is a letter from San Marcos resident Frances Breihan:

December 13, 2011

 

TO:  P&Z Commissioners,

 

RE:  North Campus Housing Development – Sessom Canyon Project 

 

I am Frances Breihan, a resident at 111 W. Hillcrest for all but 20 years of my life.  I will not address the environmental issues with this project  as they have been presented.

 

Ted and I have raised our four children at our present location, and had planned to leave our home to one of them.  Nearing retirement, we evaluated our situation and decided to remain in our home rather than change our location.  We built a beautiful memorial for our daughter, Dawn and built a lovely back deck – thinking that our retirement years would be pleasantly spent in this peaceful setting.

 

Unfortunately, our view would be drastically changed and the peaceful place we have created would be changed forever.

 

San Marcos has been flooded with apartment complexes – many as yet are not filled.  The Old Baptist Church was touted as a “real deal” for jobs and business opportunities.  It was a joke – we have been hoodwinked once again by developers.

 

I know that I speak for our neighbors when I inform you, who hold our future in your hands – do not push us out.  Do not change the zoning.  Do not discount us in favor of developers.

 

Please, please do not sell us out to the developers who laugh all the way to the bank while we, citizens are left to ponder what the future holds for us.

 

Sincerely,
Frances Breihan

 

Again, we encourage everybody to send an email to each city council member expressing their personal feelings on the proposed development on Sessom Creek. If you CC protectsmtx@protectsmtx.org, we will reprint your letter here. Let your voice be heard, San Marcos!

City Council Members

City Council – Mayor_Council_Info@sanmarcostx.gov

Mayor – Daniel Guerrero, dguerrero@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 1 – Kim Porterfield, kporterfield@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 2 – Jude Prather, jprather@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 3 – Fred Terry, fterry@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 4 – Wayne Becak, wbecak@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 5 – Ryan Thomasson, rthomason@sanmarcostx.gov

Place 6 – Shane Scott, sscott@sanmarcostx.gov