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A model for smarter development

Guest Column
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

As a long-term Hays County landowner, I am excited to bring the San Marcos Air Rail and Truck (SMART) Terminal to San Marcos. Since I first proposed this 934-acre development, many have shared my vision for a premier industrial business park that complements the community and brings significant economic benefits to San Marcos for years to come. 

Thanks to the city’s partnership and input from community members, including local businesses and property owners, we have achieved our goal. The SMART Terminal is attracting leading companies that will become the engine of tomorrow’s economy and hire locally. It will generate nearly $45 million of capital investment in community infrastructure improvements and an estimated $3-4 billion in increased property values and create approximately 2,500 good paying jobs. 

Most importantly, the SMART Terminal was designed with environmental protection of the San Marcos River as our foremost priority. As a result, the SMART Terminal will have a net benefit on the local land, far improving existing water quality and reducing flood risk. 

In my conversations with members of the community, it is clear the SMART Terminal’s economic potential is well known. What is less understood – and what naysayers are bringing into question – is its location, my desire to develop under the city’s jurisdiction and the project’s environmental design.

The SMART Terminal is adjacent to an existing airport, rail and the future FM110

This land is the best possible location for the SMART Terminal in Central Texas – near existing infrastructure, including an extremely rare dual-service rail line, the San Marcos Regional Airport, SH 80, FM 1984 and the future FM 110. With minor upgrades it will become the only Class 1 rail served park between Temple and San Antonio with service from two privatized railroad companies, Union Pacific and BNSF.

Annexation holds the SMART 

Terminal to the highest standards possible

Had I developed this land under the city’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), it would have been less expensive with limited regulatory oversight and lowered development standards. However, this was against my moral compass. As a developer, I am committed to creating long-term value for a community. Therefore, I proactively requested that the city annex this land and update its zoning to allow for rail access. In doing so, the project is held to higher standards and its economic benefits accrue directly to the city. 

The SMART Terminal is designed to protect the San Marcos River 

I share the community’s concerns for the San Marcos River and welcomed the additional environmental and land use restrictions this development is subject to under annexation. To further reduce impact, I voluntarily added measures, which are identified in the city’s project FAQ, including: 

  • 70 percent impervious coverage limitation, exceeding city’s 80 precent requirement
  • Water quality standards that meet stricter Edwards Aquifer recharge zone and San Marcos corridor regulations
  • Comprehensive land use restrictions identified by the city to prohibit specific industrial and commercial uses that could potentially pollute the river
  • Floodplain development and stormwater management standards that protect adjacent and downstream property owners, including dedicated retention ponds for each tenant 
  • Voluntary site filtration
  • Prohibit smoke and noxious odors

I am especially proud the SMART Terminal will be the first development in the area to filter all water on the property. I encourage all existing developments who share concern for the San Marcos River to do the same. These steps will enhance drainage for San Marcos and Martindale, significantly reduce flood risk and improve water quality, benefiting the river for generations to come.

The thoughtful environmental approach I am taking at the SMART Terminal exemplifies how to support economic vitality while being good stewards of the land. The San Marcos City Council will make a final vote on annexation on March 19. I hope all who value development designed for long-term economic and environmental benefits will express their support for the SMART Terminal.

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Mike Schroeder is developer of the SMART Terminal