Residents and community leaders have been working together to create the Comprehensive Master Plan, which will act as a roadmap to the locations of future housing developments in San Marcos.
Bill Taylor, chair of the Steering Committee, said the process of putting together the Master Plan started more than a year ago. Since then city officials have held several workshops during which community members could weigh in on where they would like to see development in the future. A Preferred Growth Scenario Map was presented during the Jan. 23 Master Plan Open House, showing color-coded regions distinguishing the most- and least-dense areas of the city. The map depicts a guideline for zoning and placement of infrastructure.
“We’ve had meeting after meeting where people were invited,” Taylor said. “We invited people to come out and said, ‘In 10 years we expect 30,000 more people. Where do you want to put them?’”
The 30,000 additional people expected to come to San Marcos include new students. Consequently, one of the questions needing to be answered is where student housing should be built in the future. Kate McCarty, member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, said student housing should be concentrated close to the university.
McCarty said if student housing is placed in close proximity to Texas State, buses will not have to be added to the Bobcat Tram routes. She said developers of new apartment complexes could instead provide students with transportation, or students could drive to campus themselves.
Future student housing will be located not only closer to the university, but nearer to downtown, McCarty said. She said this will create an ideal environment.
“It makes the community around the university very walkable and bikeable for students,” McCarty said. “And, of course, it’s not just students that we’re thinking of there.”
, director of Development Services, said convenience was not the only factor considered when mapping out the future of student housing. He said environmentally sensitive areas were also taken into account.
“We mapped out the flood plains so that when the community was building the map they had the ability to make educated decisions on where the appropriate locations would occur,” Lewis said.
There are a few possibilities for development marked over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, but most of the housing plans are located in less environmentally sensitive areas, Lewis said.
The Springtown Mall, which remains largely vacant, is another area where citizens can expect to see student housing in the future, Lewis said.
“Particularly where Springtown Mall is, and the downtown area, calls for really high density housing,” Lewis said. “I don’t know that it’s necessarily marked as ‘student housing.’ It could house students or young professionals.”
This means students, empty nesters and young couples will all be able to coexist in the same living space, Lewis said. Students will also have a wider variety of amenities to choose from when looking for housing, he said.
“As you go through life, there is a diversity of housing,” Lewis said. “Different people have different needs in housing. Students with a dog may want a yard. An older generation may not want to take care of a yard. So, (the Master Plan) is really planning for life cycles. It’s not necessarily saying, ‘Here’s where the students go. Here’s where citizens go.’ That would be shortsighted.”
Lewis said completion of the Master Plan will fall between late February and early March, and the anticipated date for adoption is April 3.
McCarty said the master plan will not be “set in concrete for ever and ever” after it is adopted. She said there will be opportunities to amend it during a public process in which residents can weigh in on the plan. This will accommodate for changes not anticipated when the initial plan was made, she said.