Schertz approves amendments to the city’s future comprehensive land use plan

Once again, the contentious issue of new developments in the southern part of Schertz dominated the city council meeting on February 8 and, again, efforts to forestall potential new developments failed – twice.

Two proposals to change the city’s future comprehensive land-use plan have been approved by council in separate unanimous votes, potentially paving the way for a new estate-like housing district and apartment complex of 300 housing units for the workforce in the region.

The first was a request by Raymond Tarin of Moy Tarin Ramirez Engineers to change the master plan designation of 44 acres near the intersection of Schaefer Road and FM 1518 from mixed-use neighborhood to single-family residential use.

Tarin told council that townhouses, apartments, retail, restaurants and offices could be built on what is now mostly farmland and ranch land, under its current designation. With the requested amendment in place, he said an unnamed developer he represents plans to build homes worth around $500,000 each on 116 large lots.

“This is less dense use than what is currently permitted on the property,” Tarin said.

Twenty notices were sent to local residents about the proposed change and the six responses returned were all negative, with several citing concerns about increased traffic in the area.

Wayne Ashabraner, vice president of land acquisitions for San Antonio’s Endura Advisory Group, said his company was involved in real estate negotiations.

He added that “right now the way this property is zoned, if this developer were to drop this contract, I would get it back under contract within seven days and I could go out there and build a significant number of resorts. apartments. The promoter is very conscientious of what he proposes for this land.

But Deputy City Manager Brian James explained that the property in question is actually within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, not within the city limits of Schertz and is therefore not zoned at all. Annexation of the land could be expected to occur under a current development agreement, he added, “but if the council chooses not to annex, we have no control over the use of the land. ground with respect to what is built on this property”.

In first reading, council unanimously approved the amendment to the land use plan, but the project, if it goes ahead, still requires permits and zoning approvals before construction can take place. actually start.

The other requested change was for a 15-acre parcel on FM 1518 south of Lower Sequin Road and northeast of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, but outside the base’s flight lines and maximum noise range. for federally approved housing.

Currently, according to the city’s master plan, the land is reserved for residential neighborhoods: residential development on lots of at least half an acre each and half the land maintained as open space. The owner, the family of Councilman Michael Dahle, was requesting a change to a mixed-use neighborhood center designation.

Dahle, citing a conflict of interest, left the boardroom during the discussion and vote.

This change would open the door to the construction of 300 apartments in eight three-story buildings that would be designated as Affordable Workforce Housing. Jason Arechiga, senior vice president of development for NRP Group, told the board that his company has built and managed more than 25,000 similar units in Texas. This proposed project consists of two- to four-bedroom units with childcare facilities and family-friendly amenities, he added.

With federal support, the units would be reserved for families earning 50 to 70 percent of the region’s median annual income of about $80,000, he said, pointing to Schertz teachers, police officers, city workers, Amazon staff and their families as potential tenants. . Arechiga added that his company is currently working with the Schertz Housing Authority to partner on the project.

If approved, Arechiga said, the project would start late next year and take 22 months to build. Addressing the issue of increased traffic congestion, he noted that completion would be after the $45 million expansion of FM1518 by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Public responses to the amendment’s approval were generally negative, with residents citing more traffic, an increase in attendance at local schools, and the potential impact of new, noisier trainer aircraft coming into the vicinity of Randolph on the apartments offered.

Aubrie Dahle, a member of the owning family, said the land is now being used to graze cattle. She suggested there was also an open bias against tenants and people assumed that any tenant would be low-income and likely a member of a minority race. “There is a widespread belief that people who rent accommodation are necessarily less desirable than people who own their own homes,” she said. “That is, of course, absurd.”

“I don’t think people in this community have any idea what the real cost of living is in this city,” said Len Weinand, chairman of the board of the Schertz Housing Authority, adding that he appreciates the services. provided by the city’s municipal employees. and employees of local businesses. “But these people find it very difficult to live here. The people who support us should be able to live here.

Weinand has committed to working with the NRP Group to find and retain suitable tenants for the proposed project.

Ashabraner pointed out that Schertz has invested millions to open the southern part of the city to development, including its share to pay for the expansion of FM 1518, a new $9 million fire hall, a new waste treatment facility $12 million sewers, $5 million for water line improvements and $3 million for a new water tower in the immediate area. “You planned this growth,” he said.

Councilor Jill Whittaker agreed. “There was obviously a vision, long before I came to the board, that South Schertz was going to be developed,” she said, “and that makes sense because there is demand, so we have an opportunity and we have the land available.”

“If you look around in the community, we have very few options – virtually none – for affordable housing,” Councilman Mark Davis added. Schertz is a growing community, he noted, and amenities like fine dining and high-end retail require employees to work there, and those employees can’t afford to live in the city.

“Nobody is stepping in to South Schertz to buy 150 or 300 acres to start a farm,” he added. “It would be great to have all that open space there, but no one is doing it. And ultimately, owners have the right to explore the options.

The first-reading vote to approve the amendment was five to zero. Scott had left the meeting and Dahle was not present.

In other actions, the city council voted to nominate Sysco Central Texas, a global food distribution company, as a candidate for the Texas Enterprise Zone Program, a tax refund sales and use tool designed to encourage the private investment and job creation.

Sysco employs 450 people at its 635,000 square foot factory at 1260 Schwab Road. According to Adrian Perez, executive director of Schertz Economic Development Corp.

But to qualify for the state sales tax rebate, the business had to be designated by a government entity as an official business project. With the unanimous approval of the City Council, Sysco’s application can now be reviewed and scored by the State of Texas Economic Development Corp. A possible announcement on Sysco’s proposal is expected within 90 days.

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