As residential and business development have boomed in recent years in parts of northwest and south Bexar County, two communities are trying to arrive at a positive consensus when it comes to future development plans. The Helotes City Council, in northwest Bexar, recently denied M/I Homes’ plans for a 27-acre housing development that would mix high-end homes with small lots along Bandera Road. The Helotes Planning and Zoning Commission did endorse the developer’s Helotes Creek Estates subdivision, which was proposed for the site of the former Helotes Trading Post.
In the last decade, the previous council and many residents living near the property had shown a willingness to back single-family homes instead of commercial development on the land in question. City officials called the proposed subdivision the most effective use for the land, but many current nearby residents voiced worry that the proposed small lots would have an adverse effect on drainage in the neighborhood. Residents also expressed concern about the preservation of heritage oak trees on the small lots, and questioned whether the small lots conflicted with the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood.
Elliott Jones of M/I Homes said the small lots were essential to ensuring the project financial viability. Backers of the project suggested that, if the Helotes Creek Estates subdivision were not suitable to neighbors or the city, someone with a less desirable development may seek to occupy the property, which is zoned for business.
On the South Side, residents of Mission Trails Mobile Home Park are waiting to see how the San Antonio City Council votes on a rezoning process that threatens their homes. The council earlier this month voted to delay a vote to May 14 on Mission Trails MHC LLC, which owns 21 acres of property at 1515 Mission Road, including the Mission Trails Mobile Home Community. It’s a neighborhood of more than 200 people.
The Colorado-based landowner plans to sell the property to Shavano Park-based White-Conlee Builders, a firm that seeks to develop a $75-million complex of four-story, high-end apartments on site. The land is near notable features such as Concepción Sports Park, Riverside Golf Course and a part of renovated San Antonio River Mission Reach project.
The developers hope the city will change the site’s zoning status from “manufactured housing” to a C-2 commercial and mutli-family use. Many residents of Mission Trails said, because they are of low-income status, they’re worried about being uprooted from their community, and expressed frustration of not having much of an apparent say in the outcome. Attorney Bill Kaufman, representing White-Conlee, said the company is offering to fund moving expenses and hookup costs at other area trailer parks. The company is also proposing to pay a $2,000 subsidy for owners of homes that city officials describe as “too deteriorated to move.”
On one hand, northwest Bexar County communities such as Helotes, have relatively newer growth, with brand new, higher-end residential subdivisions, an influx of new business and new schools. While outlying communities such as Helotes lure people with the idea of living and working further away from the hustle and bustle of central San Antonio, such small cities must contend with adequately funding their basic services – streets, infrastructure, and public safety – while figuring how best to keep growth balanced and fair to present residents and newcomers alike.
On the other hand, South San Antonio is an older, established neighborhood that, while struggling with socioeconomic challenges, is starting to finally see positive development trends come in from the North Side. High-end mixed-use developments, along with the Mission Reach improvements, are sure to attract more investment. But many current residents, used to a not-so-trendy lifestyle, hope to find their own balance between older neighborhood traditions and working with newcomers when it comes to commercial and home development.