San Marcos approves development agreement, extension for 6,200-home neighborhood

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City Council Cotton CenterSan Marcos City Council approved the first reading of a development agreement for a neighborhood to include more than 6,200 homes on Tuesday. Brett Thorne/Community Impact Newspaper

More than 6,200 homes may be on the way to a 2,358-acre tract of land in east San Marcos after City Council approved a development agreement Tuesday.

Cotton Center, a development planned to include 6,246 single-family homes, 1,875 multifamily units, 387 acres of commercial, industrial and office space, 550 acres of parks and open space, four sites for future San Marcos CISD schools and two public safety facility sites, would be built near the San Marcos Regional Airport.

Cotton Center map

Becky Collins, general manager for Walton Development & Management, the firm behind the project, said now that the development agreement has been approved, the company will begin working on the studies and other areas of work laid out within the agreement.

“You won’t see houses popping up anytime soon,” Collins said.

The neighborhood is a municipal utility district, or MUD, an entity created by the state legislature with the power to levy taxes. Property taxes will be collected on homes within the district, which will be used to finance the cost of building infrastructure, such as roads and water lines.

In addition to the development agreement, City Council approved an extension that will allow Walton to push back the date it must create a subdistrict within the MUD.

The development has been divided into five subdistricts. Walton must formally create the first subdistrict before construction of homes and other features of the development can begin. Cotton Center’s five subdistricts will range in size from 397 acres to 529 acres.

City Council approved formation of the MUD on Dec. 2, 2014. The original agreement required that the first subdistrict had to be created within 24 months of the election formally creating the MUD. That election took place in May 2016, which would require the first subdistrict in the development to be created by May 2018. Instead, the extension will allow Walton to put off creation of the subdistrict until May 2021.

“The main reason for [the extension request] is we’ve had some ongoing negotiations … the amount of time it’s taken us to get through that process and get that completed, as well as some of the requirements they have been willing to agree to … that’s the reason for the request of the extra three years,” San Marcos Planning Director Shannon Mattingly said.

Council Members Melissa Derrick and Scott Gregson ultimately voted in favor of the extension and the development agreement, but both said they are wary of providing extensions to projects like these because it essentially delays new homes being built in the city.

“I would just ask the applicant to move forward,” Gregson said. “This is sort of like a commitment we’ve made. By approving this, we’ve pushed their time to deliver houses on the ground, to start this process … out by three more years.”