San Marcos City Council approves third H-E-B store

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H-E-BSan Marcos City Council voted 4-3 to approve the city's third H-E-B on Sept. 20. The new store will be built near the intersection of Wonder World Drive and Hunter Road. Scott Thomas/Community Impact Newspaper

A third H-E-B store will be built in San Marcos after City Council approved two items—a preferred scenario amendment, which changes the city’s comprehensive plan, and a zoning amendment—at a meeting Tuesday.

City Council voted 4-3 to approve the preferred scenario amendment. Council members Lisa Prewitt, Melissa Derrick and Jane Hughson voted in opposition. During the first reading of the preferred scenario amendment on Aug. 2, Hughson voted to approve the amendment.

Leslie Sweet, H-E-B public affairs director for the Austin area, said there is not a timeline for when construction on the new store might begin. The company plans to hold at least one open house in San Marcos to gather residents’ input on the architectural style of San Marcos, which will factor into the design of the new store.

“Now we go to work on designing what the store could be and look like,” Sweet said. “There is quite a bit of work to be done before we start construction.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, residents were split on the proposal.

Michelle Harper, executive director of the United Way of Hays County, cited H-E-B’s assistance after last year’s two floods as an example of the company’s commitment to San Marcos.

“H-E-B is the best corporate partner that San Marcos has. It was shown last year time and time again during the flood, when within the first hour or so of the first flood knowing that H-E-B was going to be on site,” she said.

Harper said during the All Saint’s Day weekend flood in October, top management from H-E-B called her offering assistance before she could even leave her house in the morning.

When the Wonder World Drive extension was built from Hunter Road to Old Ranch Road 12 in 2010, the agreement included language indicating there would be no curb cuts—which allow for entrances to properties adjacent to the road—built on the new thoroughfare. Residents have expressed concern that the H-E-B proposal necessitates the construction of a curb cut on Wonder World west of Hunter. The insertion of curb cuts opens access to property adjacent to the road, which could lead to further development in an environmentally constrained area.

Prewitt said many residents who were concerned about the construction of the extension a decade ago ultimately supported the project because of the agreement prohibiting curb cuts along the new road.

“I can’t with a good conscience support something that the community got behind at one point in time because of the [prohibition against] curb cuts,” Prewitt said. “This is about being transparent, being honest with your community and sticking with rules you set in place seven or 10 years ago.”

Council Member Scott Gregson said comparison of the H-E-B proposal and the proposal that allowed construction of the Woods Apartments near I-35 and River Road, a development that in January was shown to have worsened flooding in nearby homes during the Memorial Day weekend and All Saint’s Day weekend floods, are invalid.

On the H-E-B site, all improvements to the site are being built outside the 100-year-floodplain except for a driveway from the property onto Hunter Road. The Woods site was completely constructed within the 100-year-floodplain. A preliminary 2-dimensional model was performed at the H-E-B site to ensure there is no rise in the floodplain from the development. The developer of the Woods performed a less rigorous 1-dimensional analysis. At the H-E-B site the finished floor elevation is required to be 2 feet above the revised Federal Emergency Management Agency 100-year floodplain elevation. At the Woods, the finished floor elevations are 1 foot above current floodplain elevations.