Citizens voice concerns on development

News Editor

Questions and concerns from residents regarding a proposed development in downtown San Marcos were addressed Wednesday to help city officials determine whether or not to approve the project.  

The Hutchison Mixed Use Redevelopment project proposed by Carson Properties would house 4,500 square feet of retail, two levels of parking, a community center and 79 living units containing 282 beds. The project would be four stories taller than allowed under city regulations, and would require a waiver from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The commissioners postponed their decision on the project last week to allow for resident input and feedback, some of which was heard during Wednesday’s Coffee Talk session.

John David Carson, the developer behind the project, and City Planner Matthew Lewis spoke with residents at the Coffee Talk. While some residents showed support for the project, others voiced concerns about the nature of the living space in the development, the size of the project and the precedent it would set in the downtown area.

The size of the complex was a point of concern for some residents. Questions were posed about whether the new development would stand out in the downtown area.

Carson said the proposed development is not as large as Vistas San Marcos, and only covers a couple of acres, Carson said. Everything on campus is on a hill and is “significantly” higher than his proposed project, Carson said.

“The university just built a parking garage in walking distance that’s seven stories tall,” Carson said. “We’re working on some views for Planning and Zoning next Tuesday (to) show this project and the scale.”

Multiple residents were concerned that the apartments in the project would be rented by-the-room. Some residents suggested the site would be better suited for condominiums.

Resident Stan Ault said he owns property close to the proposed development site. He said his property would probably be the most negatively impacted by the project, and that it will be impossible to see the sun from his back window.

However, Ault said he supports the project because it will be a quality place to live near the campus.

“We’re going to have the growth,” Ault said. “We can’t stop that.”

Other residents at the Coffee Talk who support the project said it will fit into the city’s Master Plan, which aims to place student housing closer to campus.

Student housing is a good fit for the site because the areas north and west of campus are “challenging propositions” and the river is to the east, Carson said.

Lewis said the Coffee Talk public event was successful since it allowed residents to voice their comments and concerns.

“There’s a lot of rumors going around,” Lewis said. “We just want to share facts about the case. The city staff is here to answer the facts, the developer is here to answer the facts and hear factual questions from the community.”

City staff recommended the approval of the development project during the Jan. 14 Planning and Zoning meeting. The proposed development will head back to the Planning and Zoning Commission next Tuesday for a decision on the height of the proposed building.

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