Woodlands developers in process of obtaining permits for housing on Cape’s Camp

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News Reporter

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City councilmembers approved construction of a 1,000-bedroom apartment complex at Cape's Camp in January 2013.

Developers of The Woodlands of San Marcos, which will be built on the disputed Cape’s Camp property, are working toward breaking ground after Planning and Zoning commissioners approved the second phase of the environmental protection plan this January.

City councilmembers approved zoning changes that would allow Georgia-based Dovetail Development to build a 306-unit, 1,000-bedroom apartment complex off River Road and next to Interstate Highway 35 with a 5-2 vote in January 2013.

John Foreman, the city’s planning manager, said now that the environmental protection plan is approved, the developers have to survey the land to set property boundaries and obtain various permits.

“The zoning is the first step of getting their entitlement,” Foreman said. “Now, they have to work out all the technical and code requirements for getting the lot platted and getting permits issued such as the tech permit, ownership and protection permit and building permit.”

The developer will not be able to begin construction on the complex until permits are issued, Foreman said.

Nearly 75 percent  of San Marcos residents voted against the development of the Cape’s Camp property in the November 2012 election. However, related ballot items concerning raising taxes for the property and using eminent domain did not pass. Dovetail bought the land soon after.

The developer has donated 45 acres of land, 20 of which will be donated for parkland, said Jonathan Ducet, project engineer, during the January Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Nearly a mile of paved hiking and biking trail will be installed as well as enhanced streetscapes and a turning lane from the access road onto River Road. The developer will donate $75,000 to be used for additional improvement.

Councilmember Ryan Thomason, Place 5, voted in favor of the development last January. He said although residents wanted to see the property be converted to parkland, they were not willing to vote in favor of taking the land by eminent domain or raising taxes to pay for it.

“The vast majority (of residents) said, ‘We want this as parkland,’” Thomason said. “The same percentage said, ‘Don’t send us a bill.’ People really are all over the board on this subject.”

Some residents say they are concerned about the development because the property is too close to the San Marcos River. They are concerned that the environmental impact study may need additional experts for a second opinion.

Dianne Wassenich, program director for the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF), believes the complex will be damaging to the river and the surrounding area.

“It’s not that we don’t trust the staff in their evaluations in watershed protection plans—we just want additional experts to review the process,” Wassenich said. “We hired Tom Hayes with the Environmental Conservation Alliance, and we have concerns. We should follow the river corridor ordinance that says don’t build on highly erosive soils and we feel like that’s the types of soils that are there.”

Steve Drenner, the developer’s attorney, said the watershed protection has passed all of the necessary requirements and Dovetail is accommodating the city’s requests.

“(The development) fully complies with the list of issues and conditions within the code,” Drenner said.

Planning and Zoning commissioners will hear more of the developer’s plans for the 20-acre parkland area that is being donated at the March 25 meeting.