The Kyle Report

The Kyle Report

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Council hears plans for more than 3,700 new homes (oh, and some apartments and commercial development as well)

If there is any doubt Kyle is growing quickly as a residential community, consider this: The City Council heard this evening from two separate developers looking to add 3,773 single family homes and 2,112 apartment units to the city’s inventory, the overwhelming majority of them on the east side of Interstate 35.

The largest of the three planned developments, called Pecan Woods, would be located on 763 acres situated on the north side of FM 150, immediately west of Simon Middle School. It would, according to its developers, the Walton Corp., consist of 1,835 single family homes, 1,320 multi-family units and 16 acres of commercial development which Walton spokesman Adam Scott said would consist primarily of office space.

The second largest of the three developments, also planned by Walton, would be called Kyle Estates and would be located on 640 acres about 2 miles southeast of Lehman High School near where Goforth Road becomes Bunton Lane. This could be the most controversial of the developments because only about half of it would fall within the Kyle city limits. It would contain 1,608 single family homes, 792 apartment units and 15.7 acres of commercial development.

The developers asked the city council to look into the creation of Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) for both developments to fund their needed infrastructure improvements. PIDs are special assessment areas within a specified district in which owners inside that district pay special assessments in addition to their regular city taxes to pay for the district’s infrastructure needs. The theory behind PIDs is that the cost of improving an area will be borne exclusively by the owners within that area and not spread among all the city’s taxpayers. I had two problems with the PID as described by Walton spokesperson Steve Metcalf. First, he said the PID would be paid by a one-time assessment, that could be paid in one lump sum or over time, by the homeowners in the two developments. My question is why aren’t these costs somehow shared by the multi-family and commercial property owners as well. Perhaps they are and Metcalf just didn’t say, but in his presentation to the council he only said the assessment would be levied against homeowners. Second, he didn't mention a termination date for the PID. Normally they only are in effect for three to five years.

The council appeared to have way too many concerns about PIDs in theory as well as in practice to advance this discussion to any lengths beyond the developers’ initial presentation. In fact, the feeling I got listening to this entire discussion was that the city, as yet, hasn’t developed any policies concerning PIDs and Mayor Todd Webster indicated the council should conduct a workshop on PIDs before discussions on these developments progress any further.

Council members also expressed concerns about the multi-family units with Mayor Pro Tem Diane Hervol and District 6's Tammy Swaton stressing that any apartment bordering on a single-family residence be limited to two stories. District 4's David Wilson said he thought recently constructed apartments constructed on the north side of San Marcos along Interstate 35 looked cheap, while he admired apartments he said he saw on a recent trip to the Dallas suburb of Frisco that were made of "rock and stone."

"I want apartments in Kyle to look more like Frisco and less like San Marcos," Wilson said.

The third development the council heard about was not nearly as ambitious but was received more enthusiastically. It involved a 130-acre development of 350 residential lots inside the "Y" that’s formed by the intersections of W. Center Street, Old Stagecoach Road and Cypress Road. The developer said at least 25 percent of the lots would measure 80-by-130 feet to accommodate homes in the mid-$400,000 range. (Fifty percent of the development would have 65-by-120 foot lots and the other 25 percent would have 55-by-125 lots. The homes in the area, according to the developer, would start in the mid-$200,000s.)

"It’s great that we have affordable housing here, it’s just that we need step-up housing like this," Mayor Webster told the developer. "It allows us to keep those people in Kyle who are looking to step up in their housing and I think you are the first to offer this alternative."

The one concern with the development was its name. The developers want to call it "The Woodlands at Center Street." It turns out the city already has a subdivision called The Woodlands and the council said this could cause some confusion, especially when first responders are being summoned in an emergency, Interim City Manager James Earp told the council he had already cautioned the developers about the name and had not given up hope that it might be changed.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

A suggestion for the City Council on this committee thing

Never let it be said that I won’t stick my two cents in when no one has asked for it.

Tuesday evening five members of the City Council and Mayor Todd Webster convened in the training room of the Public Works Department to try to hash out the city’s unwieldy committee system. And, if the Mayor is correct and there are 21 citizen-driven committees advising the city council, that’s way too many.

So here are the committees I think the city could use:
  1. Planning and Zoning
  2. Library
  3. Parks and Recreation
  4. Civil Service
  5. Board of Adjustments
  6. Community Development
  7. Cultural Affairs
  8. Animal Shelter/Animal Control

That’s it. Eight committees could get the job done. If anyone has any questions on what the functions of each of the committee, simply comment at the end of the blog or send me an e-mail at But for the most part I think the names of the committees speak for themselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City Council decides to ditch most committees

During a workshop this evening led (some might successfully argue that "pushed" might be the more appropriate term) by Mayor Todd Webster, the City Council rewrote the rules for serving on the few city advisory committees that will be left once Webster’s purge is complete.

Mayor Todd Webster
By the end of the three-hour, 20-minute workshop only five of the current 21 committees were guaranteed to survive although some, such as Planning and Zoning, will be regarded more as a commission than a committee. The four left are Economic Development, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and Public Safety. (The Youth Advisory Committee will remain intact, but since its members are nominated by three area high schools, it fell outside the purview of the workshop’s discussion.) The council decided each committee will consist of seven members with two alternates appointed to two-year terns (with the possibility of holdovers if a new committee member isn’t named when a term expires). Prospective committee members must be registered voters living within the Kyle city limits (another, albeit somewhat discussed, change) for the last 12 consecutive months. A committee member, under the new proposal, which still must be written as an ordinance and formally approved at regular City Council meetings, may serve a maximum three terms.

Webster, in the fifth month of his three-year term, advocated abolishing all the committees and then re-establishing those that served a specific function through individual council resolutions. The resolutions, the council agreed, would also include the specific assignments the committee was created to complete. District 6 Council member Tammy Swaton seemed reluctant to do away with the Community Relations Committee, but decided to wait until the issue was on the council’s agenda before she made up her mind on the issue.

"The current system is simply too complex," Webster said. "What we needed is structured order. And we need committees that have a limited shelf life, not ones that live forever without anything to do."

District 4 Council member David Wilson argued, and the rest of the council present (District 5 Council member Samantha Bellows-LeManse did not attend the workshop) agreed, the committees should serve in an advisory capacity only, as not as quasi-legislative bodies.

"We are the ones who were elected, not committee members," Webster said in support of Wilson’s recommendation.

After the meeting adjourned Webster and District 3 Council member Shane Arabie agreed that much of the work currently assigned to committees should be handled by the city’s staff. "To be honest," Webster told me, "this unwieldly committee system was established simply because, at the time, the council had a lack of trust in the staff."

Webster came into the meeting in an ebullient moving having earlier in the day attended a ribbon cutting for a new rehabilitative center that promises to add 250 jobs.

"That’s 250 jobs that will be in working in Kyle everyday and having lunch in Kyle everyday and not 250 jobs going north on 35 to Austin," Webster said.

During the workshop, Interim City Manager James Earp revealed the possibility of the City acquiring a software system that will, among other "amazing" things he could not reveal because those subjects were not on the workshop’s agenda, significantly enhance council members’ abilities to track the entire committee application and appointment process. Webster said he happened upon a demonstration of the software’s capabilities and to say he was "amazed and impressed" would be an understatement.