City officials welcome San Marcos residents to community open house

San Marcos city officials are inviting the community to a daylong, come-and-go open house to hear what residents and organizations think about several issues facing the city.

The open house will be from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. April 18 in rooms 2 and 3 of the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins St.

Comments are being taken on interim zoning strategies, park rules and changes to the land development code/smart code.

City Manager Jim Nuse said the because of the significance of each topic, officials decided to combine their outreach effort into a daylong open house.

"These are all very important concerns to our community. We want to make sure that citizens and organizations have the opportunity to understand the issues and to share their views," Nuse said in a statement.

City staff members will set up displays summarizing key points related to each issue and will visit with participants. Comment cards will be also available for public input.

Comments will be compiled and shared with city boards and City Council in upcoming workshops and meetings.

Park regulations

Officials are seeking citizen input on are the proposed new rules regulating city parks, which resulted in lengthy citizen commentary at the council's April 3 meeting.

Many who spoke opposed the regulations.

"How important is this? Are there not potholes? Are there not drainage issues?" asked one resident at the meeting.

The changes were recommended by the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a River Recreation Task Force after two years of review, public hearings and discussions.

Dianne Wassenich, president of the San Marcos River Foundation, said the group supported the proposed regulations.

"The group that gave you these recommendations, I hope that you will listen to them," Wassenich said at the council meeting. "So soon people forget what it's like, especially on holidays at Rio Vista. It's scary, and I hear all summer long from families who don't want to take their children down there."

During their March 20 meeting, City Council members voted 6-1 to approve the new rules, which include bans on Styrofoam products, on the use of spear guns in the river and on the public consumption and display of alcohol.

Council members had been slated to vote for a second time on the rules April 3 but postponed their vote after hearing from residents. Council is now set to take up the discussion again at its April 17 meeting.

Zoning changes

The city is working to update its Comprehensive Plan, which serves as an overall guide for development, housing, the environment, infrastructure, parks, facilities and sustainable resources.

One of the central issues facing San Marcos in recent months has been where to locate new multifamily housing developments to accommodate the growth of Texas State University.

The open house discussion will focus on where multifamily zoning is appropriate in San Marcos during the next several months as the new Comprehensive Plan is being developed.

City Council members also will hold a workshop from 5:30–8:30 p.m. April 26 at City Hall to further address the issue. The Comprehensive Plan is slated to be adopted in January 2013.

Development codes

Finally, officials are seeking suggestions on what should be considered by the Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council in regard to the Land Development Code, San Marcos SmartCode and the city's architectural standards.

The April 18 workshop will offer residents the chance to review proposed changes to the Land Development Code, which governs development in and around the city.

The amendments cover commercial zones, a Hopkins Street Overlay District, the parks and open space ordinance, architectural standards for multifamily residential projects and notice procedures.

The Planning & Zoning Commission also reviewed the Land Development Code amendments at its April 10 meeting and will hold a public hearing at its April 24 regular meeting.

Updates to the San Marcos SmartCode are also on the drawing board.

The SmartCode was adopted in May 2011 to encourage pedestrian-friendly development downtown, to offer a variety of housing options and services and to preserve San Marcos character, according to the city.

The proposed amendments address rezoning, building heights, mobile vendors and food cart standards, and parking in the central business area.

For further details on any of the topics to be discussed at the open house, visit the city's website.



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