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Realizing Community Vision 

As we work to improve our land development code, we're developing strategies to advance the Environment and Resource Protection element of Vision San Marcos Comprehensive Plan  which envisions "A community of outstanding stewards of our irreplaceable unique natural environment." The Vision San Marcos Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2013, is one of the most important tools our fast growing city has to anticipate changes and shape growth in an effective, orderly manner that can preserve San Marcos's unique natural environment.  The growth management and environmental strategies in the Comprehensive Plan are directed towards:
  1. Minimizing Sprawl - Direct a majority of the growth to dense Intensity Zones
  2. Enhancing Standards in Environmentally Sensitive Areas - adopting standards based on scientific understanding of water quality impacts.
  3. Implementing Regional Solutions - Facilitate and plan for regional detention and water quality in dense development areas.
  4. Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure - incorporating these strategies early on and throughout the development process

These same ideas were echoed during the
March 2015 CodeSMTX - Environmental Workshop.

Minimizing Sprawl 

Environment and Resources Protection Goal 1 Objective #7:

"Incentivize dense development within the activity centers by lifting the regulatory environment, streamlining the development process and proactively building the infrastructure and regional detention facilities to support this growth"
The CodeSMTX strategies that are being implemented in Intensity Zones to minimize sprawl are:
  1. Increased development rights
  2. A streamlined development process and,
  3. Environmental standards that facilitate dense development
During the Environmental Workshop the public explored the impacts of altering the regulatory environment to protect and preserve those places valued strongly by this community while facilitating growth and development in line with the Comprehensive Plan.  This image is one of the models displayed during the environmental workshop representing the impacts of regulations on growth and development patterns.  The circles represent the type of development and number of people anticipated by the Comprehensive Plan and the arrows represent the number of trips or the transportation routes.

Regulations that encourage development of less expensive undeveloped land

Regulations that encourage Infill Development and align with the Comprehensive Plan

Enhancing Standards in Environmentally Sensitive Areas

This Land Use Suitability Map was developed during the Comprehensive Plan to represent the most environmentally constrained land.  The map provides guidance towards locations where enhanced environmental standards are important to implement the Comprehensive Plan.
The CodeSMTX strategies that are being implemented in Environmentally Sensitive Areas are:
  1. The creation of new Zoning Districts that preserve a minimum of 50% of undeveloped and sensitive lands.
  2. Enhanced Environmental Standards to protect water quality over the Edwards Aquifer and
  3. An analysis of the boundaries of the San Marcos River Corridor based on hydrologic and topographic data.
The CodeSMTX team is coordinating with two important ongoing projects focused on water quality impacts in the upper San Marcos Watershed.  These projects guide the development of enhanced standards in environmentally sensitive areas.

Implementing Regional Solutions

A regional solution for water quality or detention asseses the impacts of development on a certain geographic area and implements solutions to address those impacts on a regional basis.  This is an alternative to assessing the impacts of water quality and detention on each individual lot.  Regional solutions are a more efficient use of land in a highly developed area.  They also have the potential of retrofitting existing developed areas including roads and other public infrastructure where detention and water quality have not been considered. CodeSMTX is proposing that water quality and detention be handled regionally in all Intensity Zones.  CodeSMTX is also recommending different financing mechanisms to be implemented through CodeSMTX and other City plans and programs in the Downtown and Midtown Intensity Zones.
The City of San Marcos has identified options for both large and small regional solutions for managing storm water that drains to the San Marcos River.  These regional solutions include Low Impact Development Techniques (LID) and Green Infrastructure techniques that complement a walkable downtown environment including: Green Alleys, Inlet Retrofits, Rain Gardens and the conversion of concrete channels to green channels with landscaping.
Sources of funding for the implementation of these solutions can come from a variety of sources including:
  • Grants made available through participation in the Habitat Conservation Plan and the San Marcos Watershed Initiative and the City's ongoing Watershed Management Planning efforts.
  • Fee-in-lieu for new development
  • Drainage Fees
  • Identified City of San Marcos Capital Improvement Projects
Example of a Green Street Retrofit for CM Allen Parkway proposed during the CodeSMTX Environmental Workshop

What's Next

In the months ahead, the City and consultant team will refine the Code and will continue to answer questions and gather input from residents, the citizen committee (Think Tank), Council Members and the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission. Below is a list of upcoming events and meetings
  • January 6 - Think Tank Meeting - Development Process: 6:00 @ Activity Center
  • January 12 - Speakers Bureau - SMABOR 12:00 @ Activity Center
  • January 19 - Speakers Bureau - Bluebonnet Lions Club 6:00 @ San Marcos Police Department
  • January 20 - Think Tank Meeting - (Final Issue Exploration Meeting) 6:00 @ Activity Center
  • January 31 - Last Day of the Virtual Open House and Survey
The updates to the Land Development Code are part of our City's Long Range Planning Road Map, which will help us realize the Vision San Marcos Comprehensive Plan and sustain the quality of life we enjoy in our community.

CodeSMTX Speakers Bureau

The CodeSMTX team can visit your small group or organization with a presentation tailored to your interests.  Let us know what your interested in and we'll come share the latest in the CodeSMTX process with your group.
Sign up here and we will contact you for confirmation: CodeSMTX Speakers Bureau
For more information contact the Planning Department at 512.393.8230 or email
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