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Demolition ordinance given thumbs up

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A new ordinance will delay permits for demolitions of certain historic-aged buildings in San Marcos. 

The San Marcos City Council voted unanimously — on the second of two readings — to approve Ordinance 2019-41, which amends Chapter 2 of the San Marcos Development Code to establish a demolition review process and a minimum waiting period for the issuance of permits to demolish certain historic-age buildings. 

During discussion on the ordinance, councilmember Ed Mihalkanin motioned to add a section to the ordinance that will require the City Manager or his designee to provide to the City Council a written notification of the final disposition of any application for a demolition permit within 7 days after the final disposition is determined. 

“I was able to contact the City Attorney, Mr. (Michael) Cosentino, because I was just concerned about the City Council being brought up to date — if this ordinance were to be passed — to be brought up to date about the disposition of any application for a demolition permit so I thought it would be helpful to add language to the proposed ordinance that would require that,” Mihalkanin said.  

Council voted unanimously to add the new section to the ordinance. 

Applicability

According to the ordinance approved by council on Tuesday, the 90-day delay on the issuance of a demolition permit only applies to certain historic buildings or parts thereof. If a property is within the My Historic SMTX resources survey boundaries and is evaluated as medium or high, it will be subject to the 90-day review period. According to Planning Manager Abby Gillfillan, there are approximately 700 properties evaluated as medium or high. 

 If outside of the boundaries of the resources survey, buildings or parts thereof will only be subject to the 90-day review period if it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), or is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark (RTHL) or is 80 years or older. 

 According to the San Marcos Development Code, a building is defined as a “man-made construction completely enclosed by a roof, window, doors, and solid exterior walls, and designed, built, or occupied as a shelter or enclosure for persons, animals, or property, and for the legal occupancy of which a Certificate of Occupancy approved is required, or has been issued prior to the effective date of hereof. Not synonymous with structure.”

Upon a request for a demolition permit, city staff will determine whether a property is eligible to undergo the 90-day delay by using the aforementioned criteria. If a property is deemed eligible by staff, it will then go before the Historic Preservation Commission to consider the delay period and to allow for discussion of alternatives to demolition and methods for potential preservation of historic character. However, the HPC may issue a demolition permit before the 90 days are up if there is no finding of historic significance. If the structure is found to be historically significant by the HPC, the commission may then extend the demolition delay by an additional 90 days, for a maximum delay of 180 days. 

Buildings or parts thereof which the Chief Building Official or Fire Marshal determined to be an imminent threat to public safety are an exception to the review period.

San Marcos Record

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