Communities reel at San Marcos land grab
Vote will include Martindale, Maxwell and Uhland in ETJ
By LPR Staff
A bold move by the City of San Marcos last week has left county leaders reeling and property owners wondering what to expect next.
During their regular meeting last week, the San Marcos City Council approved a resolution that will expand the city”s extraterr
itorial jurisdiction (ETJ) by a mile and a half all the way around. Property within a certain city”s ETJ are subject to many of that city”s land use, zoning and subdivision rules, as ETJ areas are often precursors to annexation. In this case, however, the City of San Marcos has declared its population over 50,000 people, allowing them to expand their ETJ from two miles to 3.5 miles around the city limits.
The move, which Precinct 3 County Commissioner said was not discussed with Caldwell County officials until after the decision was made, cuts a swath through Caldwell County and leaves the City of Martindale all but an island of a city within the sprawl that is San Marcos.
The expansion of the extraterritorial jurisdiction, which stretches from Uhland”s ETJ, through the township of Maxwell and on to Martindale, makes much of Highway 142 between Lockhart and San Marcos subject to San Marcos building codes and subdivision restrictions. With the development planned in the area, changes could have serious impact on Caldwell County.
“Turner Crest has already started their plans, and their plans are under our subdivision rules,” said County Judge H.T. Wright during a discussion of the situation during Monday”s meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioner”s Court. “Unless it can be “grandfathered in,” there”s a chance that they won”t want to change their entire plan to follow San Marcos rules.”
Wright, as well as the other Commissioners, expressed concern that the move could hinder Turner Crest development, along with the development of a second subdivision planned at the intersection of Highway 80 and State Highway 130.
According to Martindale City Councilmember Les Harrison, Cooper Land Development, the company overseeing the Turner Crest development, had previously requested to be included in Martindale”s ETJ. Although a report in the San Marcos Daily Record states the city council of Martindale held an “emergency meeting ” to expand their ETJ to include Turner Crest, Harrison calls the statement inaccurate.
“We did meet on Tuesday, before San Marcos did, and approved it,” he said. “But it was already on our agenda, and was requested by the Turner Crest people.”
Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law also expressed concern about the expansion, not because of the area it takes in, but because of the area it does not.
“They decided to leave Gary [Job Corps] out of it, so we still have to provide protection there,” Law said. “That means we”ll only have one route of access in or out of the property, and we”ll have to go through another city”s ETJ to get there.” Gary Job Corps, though located in Caldwell County, is an island of property surrounded by San Marcos ETJ on all sides, but not included
Madrigal suggested that this ETJ expansion is only the first Caldwell County residents may have to contend with as construction of SH130 becomes more imminent.
“Kyle is trying to move in, and New Braunfels and Seguin are both discussion expanding up toward the intersection [of SH130 and Highway 80],” he said. “Everyone wants to be there and get their piece of that development, but because the intersection is in Caldwell County, it”s our citizens that need to be protected when these surrounding cities start acting like “the big guy on the block” and flexing their muscles.”
He pledged to work with the residents that might be affected by San Marcos” expansion to find a way to protect the property owners. Harrison said Martindale, too, hopes to protect property owners from such “land grabs” in the future, and to that end has notified several property owners of a meeting on Tuesday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Martindale Tabernacle to discuss the possibility of voluntary inclusion in the Martindale ETJ.
Although Martindale will be the community greatest affected by the expansion at this time, Maxwell and Uhland also have problems to contend with, including the possible interference of the San Marcos ETJ with plans for a residential subdivision near Uhland. Uhland Mayor Daniel Heideman did not immediately return phone calls requesting comment on the situation.
Despite the resolution passed by the San Marcos City Council, however, there is still hope for residents that the city won”t be allowed to encroach further into Caldwell County at this time. Wright said the population total quoted by the San Marcos City Council (approximately 50,060) was being challenged.