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.


MOST RECENT

San Marcos City Council set out to have a discussion about the city's utility assistance program and ended up forgiving all current residential delinquencies. (Photo Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
San Marcos City Council forgives utility debt

City Council previously set up a program to assist with payments.

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware will open a location in La Frontera in late September. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware coming to Round Rock

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is coming to La Frontera in Round Rock in late September.

The proposed Wild Ridge master-planned neighborhood northeast of downtown Dripping Springs would include 960 homes on 40- to 60-foot-wide lots. (Courtesy City of Dripping Springs)
Master-planned neighborhood in Dripping Springs to bring 960 homes, new roads

The proposed development by Meritage Homes would feature amenities such as a disc golf course.

TxDOT breaks ground on the $107 million I-35 at Hwy. 123 project in San Marcos. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Construction on I-35 at Hwy. 123 project in San Marcos gets underway

The project is one of several initiatives that TxDOT is undertaking on I-35 in Central Texas.

Q&A: Greg Smith, executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition

Greg Smith is the former superintendent of Clear Creek ISD and became executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition in December 2020. 

The Kyle City Council approved a map for an update to its transportation master plan during a meeting July 6. (Courtesy Fotolia)
New Kyle transportation plan seeks to keep pace with city’s relentless growth

The plan outlines an increase of I-35 crossings from three to five.

Hays County health officials are urging members of the community to get vaccinated to avoid hospitalization and serious illness. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hays County reports 2 COVID-19-related fatalities as cases continue to climb

Hays County reported two deaths and 470 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

Photo of a doctor with a pregnant woman
Austin health experts warn delta variant could pose higher risk for pregnant women

Maternal medicine doctors across Central Texas have seen increasing numbers of pregnant women coming to the hospital with breathing issues and pregnancy complications as a result of COVID-19.

Wayback Burgers makes cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
6 eateries open or coming to Cedar Park, Leander; Trudy's North Star reopens in Northwest Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including Tiff's Treats opening in Hutto.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

Photo of medical professions in a hospital
Health officials warn ICU space is critically low as Travis County sees its 900th COVID-19 death

As the delta variant drives transmission rates up, local hospital systems warn that ICUs are strained.

At Blue Gecko, a Texas Taco comes with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese and bacon. (Courtesy Blue Gecko)
New taco spot opens in Four Points; roadwork for Austin's Zilker Eagle continues and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including news on when Lou Neff Road will open in Central Austin.