San Marcos City Council passes Code SMTX on first of two readings

San Marcos City Council voted on Feb. 20 to adopt Code SMTX, the city's new land development code, on the first of two readings.

San Marcos City Council voted on Feb. 20 to adopt Code SMTX, the city's new land development code, on the first of two readings.

Nearly four years into discussions on the city of San Marcos's land development code overhaul, council members on Tuesday took a tentative first step toward adopting Code SMTX.

City Council members voted 5-0-2—with council members Ed Mihalkanin and Jane Hughson abstaining—to pass Code SMTX on the first of two readings after a two-and-a-half hour discussion.

The vote comes with a slew of proposed amendments on everything from more restrictions on accessory dwelling units to changing the name of certain of zoning districts.

"I trust that we’re going to get this worked out before we get this voted on [second reading]," Council Member Melissa Derrick said prior to the vote.

Neighborhood Districts 

At the heart of some council members' and citizens' apprehension in passing Code SMTX is the Neighborhood Districts, a suite of new zoning regulations that city staff say will replace the current options for medium and high-density residential neighborhood commercial development in existing neighborhood areas.

According to the Code SMTX final draft, Neighborhood Districts are intended for infill or redevelopment in areas that have a mix of existing residential and commercial buildings, such as in the Willow Creek neighborhood or northwest of Texas State University.

Under the proposed new regulations, there are limits on the number of attached units allowed, more parking standards, more appropriate height limits and more options for small, narrow lots and large or irregular lots.

For now, there are five proposed zoning designations within Neighborhood Districts that range from accommodating single-family detached houses and encouraging home ownership to creating a pedestrian-oriented mixed-use corridor near a primarily residential area. They come with a range of allowable building types depending on the zoning designation. But the building types, amount of zoning designations and the Neighborhood Districts name itself could change based on some council members' proposed amendments.

Residents and council members have raised concerns about their neighborhoods not being protected and preserved, prompting some to call for Neighborhood Character Studies—aimed at ensuring that "each neighborhood maintains its existing character and follows development and redevelopment patterns desired by the residents", according to the draft code—to be conducted before Code SMTX is adopted. City staff has reccomended Neighborhood Character Studies be performed after Code SMTX's approval.

Some council members want to define Neighborhood Character Studies further before adopting the code, and a March 6 City Council work session aims to do that.

"We have to deliver some predictability and we have to gain the trust back in the community," Council member Lisa Prewitt said. "I don’t think [Neighborhood Character Studies] are going to take that long once we define what they are."

In an effort to quell concerns about protecting existing neighborhoods further from incompatible development, city staff has suggested prohibiting developers from requesting any zoning change above the least-dense Neighborhood District zoning—ND3—if the majority of properties surrounding the proposed rezoning are single-family homes.

Council members spent a lot of time on the so-called single-family buffer, with Derrick expressing interest in tying the completion of Neighborhood Character Studies to a developer's ability to request a rezoning in the majority of the Neighborhood Districts.

Rezoning process 

Under the proposed code, all developers requesting a rezoning to a Neighborhood District would have to submit a regulating plan that outlines specifics on what and where they plan to build, from building type and parkland to street network and construction schedule. Council members have also requested more clarification on what a regulating plan is.

In addition, the notification to properties surrounding the rezoning request increases from 200 feet to 400 feet, and the amount of time between the notifications to surrounding properties and the first Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in which the request will be taken up increases from 11 days to 14 days.

Under the proposed code, developers submitting a rezoning request must also meet with surrounding neighbors and present their plan for development.

Council members are slated to vote on the second reading for Code SMTX's adoption on March 20.
By Marie Albiges

Marie Albiges was the editor for the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covered San Marcos City Council, San Marcos CISD and Hays County Commissioners Court. Marie previously reported for the Central Austin edition. Marie moved to Austin from Williamsburg, Va. in 2016 and was born in France. She has since moved on from Community Impact in May 2018.


The Texas blind salamander is one of several species mentioned in a letter of intent to sue federal agencies over the Permian Highway Pipeline's impact. (Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will be plaintiff in Permian Highway Pipeline lawsuit

The organization was party to a letter of intent to sue filed in October.

texstar chiropractic buda
Buda's TexStar Chiropractic expands services with new practitioner

The clinic will now be able to offer expanded hours.

Satterwhite Business Park is meant to serve small- to medium-sized businesses. (Courtesy Satterwhite Business Park)
Satterwhite Business Park now leasing in Buda

The first of six phases is complete.

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Austin Public Health confirms city’s first rubella case since 1999

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999.

The sushi shop was located at 212 N. LBJ Drive, San Marcos. (Anna Herod /Community Impact Newspaper)
Ginger Sushi + Poke Shop in downtown San Marcos now closed

The restaurant opened in June of last year.

The new location of Cheer & Chow was at 214 N. LBJ Drive, San Marcos. (Community Impact Staff)
Cheer & Chow on N. LBJ San Marcos has closed

The locally owned restaurant offering burgers, wine, beer and more at 214 N. LBJ Drive, San Marcos closed in late December.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

Kristen Williams added this mural to the park when she took over running Wonder World from her father, Buddy Mostyn, in 2017. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Third-generation owner of Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park expands attractions, connects to San Marcos

“The dream is to create space for people to come out just to enjoy all things San Marcos."

Tacos El Primo serves tacos with a variety of meats, including asada, pastor, cabeza, lengua, buche and carnitas. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Family-owned food truck Tacos El Primo brings authentic Mexican cuisine to Kyle

Tacos El Primo offers asada, pastor, cabeza, lengua, buche and carnitas for tacos, tortas and quesadillas.

There are 200 students placed in San Marcos High School gifted and talented program. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Enrollment in gifted and talented program raises concerns in SMCSD

A district staff member said there are low placement numbers for GT students throughout the district.

Community Impact Newspaper
Kinder Morgan mobilizes for pipeline construction in Central Texas; opponents prepare to sue

In addition to ongoing legal challenges to the Permian Highway Pipeline, there is an entirely new lawsuit on the horizon.

Back to top