After months of work, San Marcos City Council is set to vote on adopting a rewrite of the comprehensive plan and its subsequent amendments, now called Vision SMTX++, on Nov. 6.

How we got here

The existing comprehensive plan was adopted in 2013, titled Vision San Marcos: A River Runs Through Us. The 118-page document details various goals and objectives of the city and its population of just under 45,000 residents, including:
  • Boosting economic development
  • Incorporating low-impact development practices
  • Updating the future land-use map
  • Diversifying housing options
With an additional estimated 25,000 residents, the new 150-page plan looks to update and expand its zoning districts and serves as the "vision for equitable and compatible growth." However, many within the community have expressed a similar sentiment regarding the updates in that it does not accurately reflect the citizens and the community.

Zooming in

The Preferred Growth Scenario within the comprehensive plan will serve as the blue print and guide for future development throughout the city. A key factor in the developments are what will be called area centers and area plans for mixed-use, community and neighborhood projects throughout the city, mainly situated along or near major highways such as I-35 and Hwy. 123.

Not only that, but the scenario reclassifies and proposes changes to the city's intensities regarding to zoning.

"We are now at the point where we need to start thinking about how this comprehensive plan is going to be implemented once we get it approved," said Amanda Hernandez, San Marcos' director of planning and development services. "We are looking at one of the biggest changes between our current plan and the proposed plan, which is that we are going from five intensity zones to about 10 place types."

The new place types are as follows:
  • Neighborhood low-existing
  • Neighborhood low-new
  • Neighborhood medium
  • Neighborhood high
  • Neighborhood transition
  • Mixed-use low
  • Mixed-use medium
  • Commercial/employment low
  • Commercial/employment medium
  • Conservation/cluster
Definitions of the types can be found on Page 70 of the draft.

Going forward

As a result of the change to place types, there will be changes to some of the existing zoning in place.

For example, neighborhood medium will allow mixed-use development where it previously wasn't allowed; mixed-use low will make way for hospitality where it previously did not exist.

There are other changes outlined in the plan, starting on Page 73, that could change the landscape of some areas in San Marcos.

What they're saying

Some who spoke during citizen comment at the last council meeting said they did not feel as though some of the committees that oversee the new plan are an accurate reflection of the city as a whole and only offer a "limited perspective."

"San Marcos is an incredibly young and diverse community. ... Consider the composition of this rewrite committee. It is neither young nor diverse," San Marcos resident John David Carson said. "[The committees] changes lean heavily towards preserving their areas exactly as they are ... while forsaking undeveloped land out east."

Council member Alyssa Garza echoed similar sentiments later at the same meeting while others on the dais expressed otherwise.

"Folks generally, across the board, feel like they have been dismissed by the city," Garza said. "So ... are we building something that we're going to have to end up undoing later?"

However, other members on the dais said while they weren't completely happy with the plan, they were ready to adopt it.