During the Sept. 13 regular City Council meeting, New Braunfels City Council members voted to approve the second reading of an ordinance to rezone a property located at 157 S. Guenther Ave. from a special neighborhood district to a central business district.
The 0.17-acre property is located behind the Encore Antique Company, which is part of a 1.36-acre tract that is zoned as a central business district and surrounds the smaller property. Both properties are owned by Seals Family Properties, LLC, according to city documents.
Rezoning the Guenther Avenue property would create more continuity of zoning in the area, said Chris Looney, planning and development services director for the city.
“This is the only single-family residential lot in the entirety of downtown that is completely surrounded by [central business district] zoning,” said Geoffrey Bley, a representative for the owner of the property. “We want to turn an overgrown, underutilized lot into a beautiful project for the city and the community.”
Prior to the council meeting, notices were sent to all property owners within 200 feet of the property in question, and 12% replied in opposition to the change, Looney said.
Among the concerns voiced by residents opposed to the rezoning were the potential affect a new development could have on traffic in the area and the encroachment of commercial activity into the area.
“As the city continues to grow and develop, the increased safety of our streets needs to remain a concern,” esident Angie Martinez said. “Guenther Avenue is already a thru street for traffic and has increased traffic during high traffic times.”
Plans for a development at 699 W. San Antonio St., adjacent to the Guenther Avenue lot, are in the beginning stages of planning, Bley said.
According to a project filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, The Neue is expected to be built at the address, and may include apartments and commercial space, though planning is ongoing and no construction date has been set.
“This is a very residential neighborhood,” area resident Michael Morris said. “I am concerned that the parking, the delivery noise, the lighting, the trees—none of this fits within what we would consider to be Envision New Braunfels.”
The Envision New Braunfels plan was created by city staff and community members in 2018 as a guide for future development within the city.
Because San Antonio Street was identified in the plan as an area that could support mixed-use projects, Looney said the rezoning was supported by the city’s planning commission.
Before the Sept. 13 meeting, Richard Rabe, who owns one of the properties adjacent to 157 S. Guenther Ave., changed his response to the notice sent by the city from “in opposition” to “in favor” of the rezoning.
Rabe voiced support for the rezoning to allow the property owner to move forward in planning and shared that he had met with Bley to discuss his concerns about the proposed project.
“There's nothing that says a residence has to stay [at 157 S. Guenther Ave.]. They can make it a green lot,” Rabe said. “I understand that if we don't approve this they'll still go on with the project.”
Council voted 6-1 in favor of the rezoning with only Council Member James Blakey voting against the rezoning.