San Marcos Planning & Zoning Denies Latest Student Housing Development Given By Local Owner, Resident

Meeks said he didn’t choose the developer who offered him the most money, but the one who showed the greatest environmental sensitivity; he wanted to choose a developer who would protect “his river…”

Terra Rivers, Managing Editor

The San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing and considered two requests by Doucet and Associates on behalf of Aurelius LTD for a potential student-housing development Tuesday night.

All commissioners were in attendance to hear and review the proposed project for an approximate 6.57-acre property at the 800 Block of Peques Street.

The applicant requested a preferred scenario amendment and that the property be changed from a single family (SF-6) to a T5 SmartCode. The property is intended to be turned into “purpose built student-housing.”

Commissioners were given a presentation by staff with results of their analysis of a PSA; a T5 SmartCode zoning was identified to be not compatible with the surrounding single-family or existing multifamily in the area.

While located near the Timber apartments, staff said the “preferred scenario recognized the significance of the sensitive area, and it was not targeted as a major zone for development.”

Staff recommended to commissioners that the applicant’s two requests were denied. John Meeks, the property owner, gave a presentation regarding the project.

“This is a journey that started twenty months ago; I didn’t buy a ticket for it,” Meeks said. “It came from a call from a guy in St. Paul, Minnesota wanting to know if I’d be interested in selling the property that’s been in my family since 1903.”

The property was purchased by Meeks’ grandfather when he came to San Marcos to create the Texas State University Agriculture Department in 1906.

It was used as the college farm. The portion of the property where produce was grown was sold to the University in 1972; it is now home to a parking lot and university buildings along Sessom drive.

The location for the proposed student-housing development once housed the college farm’s livestock. 

Meeks said initially, several of the people who had received the presentation became very angry with the University, and he thought that anger was misplaced.

“The University is the largest economic engine we could have or ever had in this city; it’s been here over 100 years,” Meeks said.

He compared the economic impact of the university to the impact made by businesses and corporations like the San Marcos Outlet Malls, Amazon, Thermon and others.

In the last 20 months, Meeks said he had received 13 unsolicited requests to sell the property.

According to Meeks, Texas State University, based on previous years, will grow by approximately 13,450 to 15,363 students by 2027.

Meeks described the property as “topographically challenged” stating it was on a hill and in a valley; he said he’d approached KB Homes about potentially building single family houses on the property in early 2000. KB Homes told him it would be too expensive, and no one would buy them.

Meeks said he didn’t choose the developer who offered him the most money but the one who showed the greatest environmental sensitivity; he wanted to choose a developer who would protect “his river.”

Staff told commissioners they had received three letters of support for the potential development and eight letters of opposition.

Commissioners heard three citizens speak in favor of the project, two who were on the fence and three who were opposed.

However, there were concerns from speakers about the current impact on the San Marcos river the undeveloped property has; currently, fast flows in Sessom Creek carry sediment from the bed and banks of the creek downstream and deposit it in the San Marcos river.

Other concerns were related to traffic in the neighborhood and on Sessom drive, which is expected to worsen already with the completion of the Aquarena Springs Overpass.

The applicant’s request for a PSA 18-01 was denied by a unanimous vote. Commissioners also denied the recommendation to City Council for a rezoning from single family to T5 by a unanimous vote.


 

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