Salado aldermen voted unanimously Feb. 18 for the zoning of 57.985± acres to Planned Development District-Commercial and then voted 4-1 for the zoning and rezoning of two properties totaling 251.187± acres to Planned Development-Mixed Use.
The three properties were annexed into the Village limits by aldermen at their Feb. 11 meeting. Later in the Feb. 11 meeting, aldermen failed to give a motion for the zoning and rezoning of the properties. Alderman Frank Coachman was absent Feb. 11
With all five aldermen present Feb. 18, the motions for the zoning and rezoning of the Sanctuary properties was forthcoming.
But not until after several citizens voiced their opinions under Public Comment.
King Copeland, a resident of Dallas, questioned the zoning of the properties. He questioned how the board could support the zoning of the Sanctuary properties “when 31 of the 66 property owners of area A are opposed and only three are in favor. When 14 of 71 property owners of Area B are opposed, when there is a 3-0 denial from P&Z citing a lack of detail in the Master Plan, when there are scores of peoples comments at P&Z and aldermen meeting, when more of you have said privately and publicly that Sanctuary is not something people want…. What do you get out of it?”
Maurice Striegler, a resident on Salado Oaks Dr., discussed the legality of a developer using an easement as a thoroughfare through a smaller subdivision, “This has been cited in 16 different cases on the very subject matter pertaining to Salado Oaks Dr. and the Sanctuary,” Striegler said.
Larry Sands, a resident on Indian Trail, said that the developer of The Sanctuary has spent “a lot of money with a ton of architectural meetings. He has had meetings with land planners, with architects, with the Village. He has come to this very building and shared his dream with us. He had the foresight to have a longtime developer that I know has worked several years with TCEQ to acquire a permit on a designated tract of land. Has any dirt been turned to start any roads? Has any dirt been turned to build any buildings? What if the Sanctuary does not become a reality?” Sands was unable to finish his thoughts on the matter as he went beyond the three minutes allotted each speaker.
Debbie Harrison, who lives on College Hill Drive, was more concise when she said that she was there “to express my support for doing whatever it takes to get The Sanctuary in here. I think it will be beneficial to our town.”
Darlene Walsh, who lives on Mill Creek Dr., said that the rezoning of Baines and Santa Maria was “spot zoning” and “preferential treatment” to the developer. “There are 21 in-town acres surrounded by single family homes,” she said, adding that rezoning it Mixed Use would allow for a restaurant or other business to be built in the middle of a residential development. “This would devalue homes in that area,” she said, adding that the board was not adhering to the incremental zoning change allowed by the Zoning Ordinance. She equated the change in zoning to Mixed Use as a “giant leap.”
Linda Reynolds asked aldermen to “put a big X of where your homes are” on the maps of the areas to be zoned and developed as The Sanctuary. “You’re not living in this area where you are rezoning and causing possible devaluation of property.”
Terry Crowell, who lives on Elizabeth Circle, asked that a letter be entered into the record. “Salado does need sewer but not under the conditions you have it planned on. The sewer needs to go the other way, not uphill,” he said.
Randi Bingham, who lives on Chisholm Trail, told aldermen that she has “lived here my whole life basically.” She said that there was a need in Salado for new heart and new perspectives. “This Board of Aldermen is for our city,” she said. “They do not want a town full of gas stations, restaurants and mean people. They want people to come and experience our city.”
She added that the Village needs Sanctuary “to develop our town and city. We need to bring people back to Salado and bring more money into the city.”
Bingham said that the board has been negotiating for a year and a half. “They have looked at every aspect of it,” she said, “This will grow our economy. When the Sanctuary is established, it will help to build the economy on Main Street as well.
“We have to look to the future. We have the opportunity to embrace and have a wonderful partner in the Sanctuary. They want to be part of the Village. They want to give us their sales tax and have us prosper along with them,” said Jill Shipman, who lives on College Hill Dr.,
“If you look at a map of the I-35 corridor, you see this growth all the way from Austin and beyond,” said Maggie McGraw, who lives on Staghorn Lane. “You are going to see 700- and 1,000-home developments pop up. I am kind of tired of the redistribution of stuff. I don’t want to pay for their infrastructure if we are not getting any value out of it. If they form a MUD, how does that help us?”
Mark McGraw concurred: “I don’t want to see large developments coming in here, but it’s coming and not going to stop. We may have some control over it. The city is the only way to have any control over development. We are going to end up paying for extra impact on EMS, police, fire and our roads.”
Danney McCort, former mayor who lives in Royal Oaks, said that the village could have rules in its ordinances to “make the developer develop your infrastructure.” He questioned the impact of the increased number of cars “up and down Royal St. The street is not wide enough.”
“I caught heck when I got Johnny’s Outback in here,” he said, adding that the proposed music venue was akin to Austin-sized venues for South by Southwest. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”
James Haney, who lives on Santa Rosa, said that Billy Hanks painted a beautiful picture of what he wanted; however, Haney added, “it seems totally out of concept with Salado.”
The board had little discussion of the proposed zoning of Planned Development District No. 2, which is the 57.985± acres at the southeast corner of FM 2268 and 1-35 frontage road (Area C). On a motion from Michael McDougal and a second from Frank Coachman, the board voted 5-0 in favor of the zoning.
Aldermen approved the zoning and rezoning of PDD No. 3, which is the 53.922± acres at the northeast corner of FM 2268 and 1-35 frontage road and identified as Area A, and the 197.265± acres at the corner of Salado Oaks Drive and FM 2268, and the 700 block of Royal Street Drive, just east of Rose Way Circle and identified as Area B on a motion by McDougal and second by Coachman. Amber Preston-Dankert voted against the motion after voting in favor of amendments to the motion, including an amendment offered by alderman Fred Brown to the effect that the Salado Oaks Dr. off of Baines St. on the east end of the drive would be “gated for emergency vehicle use only.”
“Oftentimes my opinion is not the opinion of the board,” Preston-Dankert said. “I listen to the voice of the P&Z and voices of many of those who spoke or developer who lives states away. Just picture if this were going right next to your home. There could be a parole office or cafeteria, dry cleaning. This will change the look and surroundings near their homes. My priorities will always be to protect current residents.”
“When it comes to other developers bringing in their properties to Salado, we have already sold the farm. What can we offer them? We have given it all to Sanctuary and have nothing left,” she said. “We can’t beg them and force them to come into our city limits. They have to want to come here.”
Preston-Dankert referred to a map that Mayor Skip Blancett showed of the Village of Salado and surrounding areas that are being developed. Some of those areas, according to the Mayor, are being developed through Municipal Utilities Districts (MUDs), including one MUD that will be 4,000 houses when built out.
Mayor Blancett pointed to a development at the corner of Royal and Blackberry that will be 200 lots, a development on Stinnett Mill that will be 120 lots, a development extending Mill Creek that will be 100 lots, Amity Estates that will be 200 lots and Windmill Estates that will be 100 lots.
“We offered one of those developers a variance to the subdivision ordinance if they would come into the city limits, but they said ‘No thank you,’” Mayor Blancett said.
“We cannot annex at-will,” he added. “In order to do that we have to have 5,000 people in our city limits and we have to offer utilities of some sort.”
“What happens if we say to Sanctuary, ‘we’re not interested, do your MUD?” he continued, adding that the Village would lose sales tax revenues, property tax revenues and the ability to have any influence on the development itself.
“They came after us. We got the annexation, the permit and the land. We got all of the sales tax,” he added. “We were willing to bargain on the property tax for 15 years.”
“If it becomes MUD, then it becomes Village of Sanctuary and then we get nothing for it,” he said. “But they can use our roads and infrastructure and you pay for it. That is what we face and that is what has been in front of us as we go forward.”