After nearly two hours of public comments and discussion Sept. 24, the Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 in favor of approving a rezoning request of a 48-acre site by PGI Investment LLC, a developer looking to build a truck stop at the corner of Yarrington Road and I-35 in Kyle.
The site is currently zoned for agriculture, but the rezoning request, which still has to be approved by City Council, will change the area to a planned unit development with retail services and multifamily residential as the base zoning. Two of the requested variances, which would have allowed for fewer residential parking spaces and taller signs, were struck down.
Dan Ryan, the planning and zoning commission chairman, said his vote in favor of the project was based on the potential economic benefits the development could provide. Hugo Elizondo, a representative of the developer who attended the meeting and spoke to the commission, said a conservative estimate of the development's annual sales and property tax contribution would be about $500,000. The city is expecting to collect about $8.3 million in sales and property tax in the 2014 fiscal year.
"We're $70 million in debt," Ryan said. "If you have a better idea, I'll put it through."
According to the proposal, the Kyle Travel Center will include a truck stop, convenience store, retail sites, truck service center and apartment complex.
The proposal received much opposition from residents of Blanco Vista, a subdivision in San Marcos adjacent to the proposed development.
"I'm almost horrified that we're here," Blanco Vista resident John Altman said. "I can't believe that there's even consideration of putting a truck stop in a residential area."
Other commenters voiced concern about increases in crime and pollution as a result of idling truck engines. Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said the police department did an informal survey of "six to eight" law enforcement agencies throughout Texas with similar truck stops in their jurisdictions. The agencies were asked to rank the level of crime reported at the truck stops as "low," "moderate" or "significant." Each of the agencies ranked crime at the truck stops as "low," he said.
Elizondo said the original proposal, submitted in 2012, included about 300 spaces for trucks and a smaller buffer between the development and Blanco Vista.
"We've tried to make it aesthetically pleasing for anyone driving down Yarrington on their way home," Elizondo said. "I think through that process, we've made the project better and hopefully more palatable for everybody."
Elizondo compared the Kyle Travel Center to the TA New Braunfels Travel Center but said that development was built outside the city limits, so it was subject to fewer development standards than the Kyle project.
Kyle resident Gene Harris was the only public commenter who voiced his support of the project.
"I see nothing wrong with this," Harris said. "It's always, 'Not in my backyard.' I have the hospital in my backyard, the lights from H-E-B in my backyard. We develop or we die.
"Whether you like it or not, I-35 is the lifeblood of the city of Kyle. You need to decide based on the rules and the laws of the city of Kyle."
City Council will discuss the development at its meeting on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.