A third H-E-B is in the midst of preparation after San Marcos City Council approved the grocer’s request to develop a third store at the intersection of Wonder World Drive and Hunter Road.
H-E-B requested a Preferred Scenario Amendment last July. The original plan for the PSA aimed toward securing 16 acres of property. That portion of the property was considered in the floodplain, so the company reduced the portion to 6.4 acres.
Ben Scott, H-E-B director of real estate, said they pieced together a collaborative plan after studying this project and found that the new location of the store may diminish traffic off of Hopkins Street and Hunter Road by saving the number of trips people take to the grocery store.
The company has taken data from existing H-E-B customers. Based off that analysis, the new store will alleviate 1,000 trips per day from the downtown store, Scott said.
Councilman John Thomaides, Place 3, is in favor of the project, especially with the exceeding population growth in San Marcos.
“I think good planning requires us to consider (growth), and I feel a responsible manner is putting essential services near where people live,” Thomaides said. “I do believe that this store will reduce the miles of travel for a lot of our citizens and there will be less congestion throughout the city.”
At the city council meeting, many residents voiced concern on the flooding and environmental impact the store may impose.
“There is no way I would support this if I felt that it would flood downstream,” Thomaides said.
To preserve this area, Scott said every tree over 24 inches on the site will not be removed from the project. H-E-B agreed to increase landscape standard to 50 percent over to sync with the natural area and place mature plant material at a minimum of 3-inch trees on this project.
“We want this to feel like it’s a part of the park,” Scott said.
In addition to tree preservation, H-E-B proposed a 10-foot concrete hike and bike trail to be integrated into the existing trail at Hunter Road that ties back into the Purgatory Creek trail system so people can avoid going through the intersection.
“We think that improves safety for folks around, mobility, allows people a great option to move around town on a bike, hiking (and) jogging without ever having to get through this intersection,” Scott said.
To relieve concerns over the historical aspect of this site, the company expedited archaeology and geology investigations. Trucks did shovel tests on this site and have not found any architectural significance within the 6.4 acres.
As the city grows on the east side of town, Councilwoman Jane Hughson, Place 4, questioned if McCarty would be a better suit for the store.
“McCarty is that perfect site for the future growth that is there and it is absolutely still a part of our plans. But we just see that as being ten plus years, so, as that comes together, that site is there and ready when the rooftops are there,” Scott said.
Lisa Marie Coppoletta, San Marcos resident, said the property should remain a green space. She said one of her main concerns is sinkholes that could potentially form, along with carbon monoxide filling the air.
“Being a good neighbor is communicating with your neighbors,” Coppoletta said. “Residents know their neighborhood, and they know their community, but they are being completely locked out of the process.”
The public deserves to be a part of this conversation, Coppoletta said. She is proud of her community for letting their voices be heard at the last city council meeting.
Coppoletta commended the time the city staff has taken to inform her on the issue.
The official report of flood maps from FEMA has not been finalized, and the City postponed discussion to September.