Citizens fight back against New Braunfels residential rezoning requests

In the midst of rapid growth, many New Braunfels residents are taking a stand against commercial operations in local neighborhoods.

In the midst of rapid growth, many New Braunfels residents are taking a stand against commercial operations in local neighborhoods.

The New Braunfels City Council Chamber was limited to standing room only Feb. 25 as residents gathered to voice concerns surrounding commercial rezoning requests in neighborhoods.

Dozens appeared to advocate against an item that, if approved, would allow the rezoning of two lots within the Country Meadows subdivision to neighborhood business and commercial office districts. After the council moved the item to the front of the agenda, a motion was passed to postpone it to City Council’s April 8 meeting at the request of the applicants.

More than 20 percent of residents in the community have formally objected to the item, which means it would require a supermajority vote from City Council to pass.

“It has been council’s policy that when an applicant [requests a postponement] that we grant the postponement and allow them to work with staff and the residents in the area about the zoning requests,” Mayor Barron Casteel said.

Council Member Justin Meadows proposed an informal public meeting in advance of the April 8 meeting where city staff would be available to answer technical questions surrounding the rezoning request.

Affected resident Sandy Watson addressed the council with a concern about being “pestered” by the owners of the properties in an effort to persuade neighbors to change their stances.

“My only concern is that we were—I hope it’s okay to say ‘bombarded’—with mailings and emails from the people who own the properties wanting to rezone,” she said. “I would hope that our objections are a matter of record and would be allowed to remain without us being pestered to change our objections.”

Several residents also approached the lectern pleading with City Council to deny the request for the rezoning of two lots at 415 and 435 S. Union Ave. to a commercial office district.

The homes are located across the street from the east side of Schiltterbahn water park, and the property owners hoped to capitalize on the city’s tourism industry by obtaining special-use permits that would allow them to legally operate vacation rentals. Per city regulations, short-term rental properties are prohibited in single-family neighborhoods.

“While the site is across the street from an intense seasonal commercial use, if approved [commercial office] zoning or any commercial zoning would really introduce commercial into a block that has remained an established, stable single-family area,” city Planning Director Chris Looney told the council, adding the staff and planning commission recommended denial of the request.

Before his application was officially denied, the owner of one of the properties, Rafael Marfil, said he believes the rezoning makes sense because of the city’s growth and the property’s close proximity to Schlitterbahn.

“I am pleading with the City Council to use logic here and to help us preserve the neighborhood and adapt to what’s going on and the wonderful changes in New Braunfels,” Marfil said.

Citing complaints such as noise, litter and safety, residents living in the neighborhood were pleased when the motion failed. A few of them told City Council that during the past year, the property owners had been operating a vacation rental property illegally.

“It’s just a precious area that we don’t want to give up now,” resident Violet Tanneberger said.

However, City Council did approve the first reading of an ordinance that will allow for the rezoning of two residential lots in New Braunfels to allow for a second location of Big League Car Wash. Owner Daniel McCutchen worked with several nearby residents to accommodate noise and other concerns, including adding a 10-foot sound barrier wall.
By Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson is editor of the New Braunfels edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covers local business, new development, city and county government, health care, education and transportation. Rachel relocated to Central Texas from Amarillo in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


MOST RECENT

Comal and Guadalupe County registered voters can cast ballots July 14 at one of 40 combined polling sites. (Courtesy Pexels)
Election day voting for July 14 primary runoffs to be held at 12 polling locations

Election day voting for the July 14 primary runoffs will take place in Comal and Guadalupe Counties from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at 40 combined polling locations.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

Comal County has reported a total of 18 coronavirus-related deaths as of July 9. (Community Impact staff)
Comal County reports three COVID-19 deaths, 50 new cases

Of the new cases, 33 are New Braunfels-area residents, and the county has reported a total of 1,142 confirmed and probable cases.

Person buring paper with a match
Burn ban to take effect in Comal County

The burn ban will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Friday, July 10 and will last for 90 days or until the fire danger recedes.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

New Braunfels Utilities previously announced that the aquifer was nearing Stage 1 drought conditions in May and June. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels to enter Stage 1 drought restrictions July 13

During a Stage 1 water restriction, sprinkler or irrigation system schedules are organized by address and are not permitted to be used on weekends. The areas serviced by the aquifer have not been in a drought stage since October 2018.

Council Member Harry Bowers will discuss pedestrian safety on Fredericksburg Road and more at the District 3 virtual forum. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels City Council member to host District 3 citizen forum

Council Member Harry Bowers will discuss pedestrian safety on Fredericksburg Road and more at the District 3 virtual forum.

To date, 15 Comal County residents and at least three Guadalupe County residents have died due to the coronavirus. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Comal County reports six COVID-19 nursing home deaths, 147 nursing home cases

Guadalupe Regional Medical Center reported 14 COVID-19 related deaths among its patients.

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.

Comal County and Guadalupe County each reported two deaths last week, increasing their COVID-19 death tolls to three and nine, respectively. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
COVID-19 surge in Comal, Guadalupe counties continues

Comal County and Guadalupe County each reported two deaths last week, increasing their COVID-19 death tolls to three and nine, respectively.

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions for the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Education Agency issues guidelines for 2020-21 school year

The guidelines address on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions that should be enforced at Texas schools this year.