A rezoning request to build a multifamily development on 92.4 acres was halted due to concerns of its proximity to the New Braunfels National Airport.

Based on the plans presented to the New Braunfels City Council during a May 8 regular meeting, the proposed development at 1280 Saengerhalle Road and 1682 Saur Lane would have included 360 mid-rise multifamily housing units and 860 low-rise multifamily housing units.

The overview

The developer was requesting the land—zoned for agricultural use—be rezoned to R-3L and R-3H districts.
  • R-3L Districts allow for the development of multifamily residences at no more than 12 units per acre.
  • R-3H Districts allow for multifamily residences at no more than 24 units per acre.
“Staff suggests consideration of alternative districts ... that allow more flexibility for uses, including commercial development,” New Braunfels Planning Manager Matthew Simmont said.

Approximately 8 acres of the property could not be zoned for residential use due to its location within the Transition Zone of the Airport Hazard Zoning Overlay District. The developer was considering plans for a future commercial development if the zoning district allows.

The big picture

Residential development is most sensitive to airport operations and is nearly always an incompatible land use if located close to an airport. New Braunfels has committed itself to ensure zoning near and adjacent to the airport is compatible with airport operations through federal grant assurances, according to city officials.

“I think this can be a larger item than any of us understand, just because of the uniqueness of [having] a national airport on its doorstep,” said Harry Bowers, council member of District 3 and mayor pro tem.

Multiple residents in the area of the proposed development spoke in opposition due to the road conditions in the area and concerns of increased traffic. According to Gary Ford, transportation and capital improvements director for the city, the development would bring an estimated 531 peak-hour trips and 632 in the evening.

The action taken

Rezoning request applicant James Ingalls requested the item be postponed until a later council meeting for the land owners to speak with airport officials about the best way to develop the land.

“We have not been discussing the airport much at all,” Ingalls said. “We did receive some emails this afternoon where that was more of an elevated concern.”

Council members denied the request to postpone the item, and Ingalls pulled the item from the agenda.