Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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New rezoning procedure considered in San Marcos

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A measure which simplifies the way the San Marcos City Council can change zoning requirements passed the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, but the plan has alarmed some residents.

The fight over the development of Cape's Camp, the last large piece of undeveloped San Marcos riverfront property in the city limits, played out over a period of months and packed several City Council meetings with vocal voters.

"It started out they were threatening the neighborhoods and now they've taken to threatening the river and the aquifer," San Marcos Melissa Derrick said.

Ultimately, the rezoning for a student-centered apartment complex was approved.

Opponents of the project had the opportunity to speak before the Planning and Zoning Commission and at multiple council meetings, but that process could condensed to a single council meeting if an amendment to the City's Land Development Code is approved.

"Council has the ability in one meeting to waive the difference in the zoning requirements," San Marcos City Manager Jim Nuse said.

The amendment would allow Council to waive zoning regulations as an economic development incentive.

"I was shocked. There's no law anymore,” Derrick said. “This is the Wild West and you can do whatever you want."

City leaders say this is just one more tool they would have to bring businesses and jobs to the city. They believe not having something like this in place has cost them jobs in the past.

"The time frame to rezone the property of those high level, commercial, industrial type zonings is a four-month process to do it and they didn't really have the time," Nuse said.

The city manager says that was one reason internet retailer Amazon chose to locate a new facility in Shertz instead of San Marcos.

"Hopefully the next group through town can have the ability of Council to allow them to get that done," Nuse said.

He said the council will consider an amendment allowing it to waive zoning requirements only for commercial and industrial property, meeting specific requirements. The amendment that planning and zoning approved had no such restrictions.

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