After more than three and a half hours of citizen comment and council discussion April 18 in which residents of San Marcos, Martindale and surrounding areas spoke in opposition of the San Marcos Air Rail and Truck Terminal development, City Council approved the first reading of the annexation of around 620 acres into the city; its subsequent zoning change to heavy industrial was postponed to July 3, pending development agreement discussion at the next council meeting.

Council members Mark Gleason, Jude Prather and Matthew Mendoza as well as Mayor Jane Hughson voted in favor of annexing the land into the city limits. Council Member Alyssa Garza motioned to have the zoning vote postponed.

The context

The SMART Terminal has been in the works since 2018. It has changed hands of developers before, and its one tenant, construction manufacturing company Katerra, relocated at the end of 2019 in favor of another site in Hays County, as previously reported by Community Impact.

The property owner is Franklin Mountain San Marcos I, LP, and the developer is Scarborough Lane.

The existing development agreement includes just over 2,000 acres of land for the development, according to information provided by the city of San Marcos.

The development itself is located throughout the eastern side of San Marcos, into its extraterritorial jurisdiction, and into or near Reedville, Martindale and Maxwell.

What they're saying

As the item has passed through the planning and zoning commission to City Council, residents have voiced their opposition regarding the project and have even started petitions.

The fear surrounding the impending development is that it will harm the existing but frail infrastructure and the environment, and would pose a threat to the residents living just feet away from the site.

"I moved here in 2020; [I] didn't know anything about the industrial park until just a few months ago," San Marcos resident Susan Neiman said. "With trucks driving through our town now, the roads already need repair. [It's] so bad that I've already had three flat [tires] in two years."

Another issue residents have about the development is the lack of transparency on the developer's part and the future of what the development will be.

"Besides revenue, the second good reason to support SMART Terminal is because it will bring good jobs to town. How do we know this? We knew what type of industry and what types of jobs the original SMART [Terminal] was bringing, but new SMART [Terminal] has provided no details about this. Not all manufacturing jobs are good jobs; not all provide decent working conditions, and not all pay well," San Marcos resident Ana Juarez said.

Only one resident, Joy Jungers of Martindale, spoke in favor of annexing the land as the city's regulations are tighter and more stringent than the Caldwell County regulations.

The developer could pull out of its agreement with the city of San Marcos in favor of working with Caldwell County instead, but Ryan Burkhardt, representative of Scarborough Lane, said they "are here to stay."

"We bought 2,000 acres out there. This is, for us, a substantial investment. We're here for the long-term," Burkhardt said. "We're not flipping something; we're not developing 100 acres and leaving; we're in this for a 20- to 30-year timeline."

What's next

The City Council will meet May 2 to hold a discussion regarding the development agreement in place for the SMART Terminal to keep the project moving forward while trying to address concerns brought forth by the community.

The first reading of the zoning change and second reading of the annexation will take place at the July 3 meeting.