La Coste denies re-zoning request, will discuss development in ETJ at special meeting

At the La Coste City Council meeting last Tuesday (Nov 17), the primary item of discussion was a request to develop two portable buildings—which are located on .39 acres of land on Brewster St.—into duplexes. Martin De La Santes of Somerset purchased the property and large portable buildings prior to the economic slump from a “big-time investor” who had abandoned them some months prior.
All board members, the police chief and 3 community members were present, including Mr. De La Santes and Mario De Leon who lives on an adjacent property. Mr. De Leon spoke in opposition to the development, saying that traffic has been increasing with other new housing and that the “B Duplex and Apartment District” zoning would potentially allow the next landowner to put in an apartment complex. Mr. De La Santes said his intent was to transform the 2 buildings into 4 housing units and rent them out, which he said would help bring “financially stable families” to the town. He described how he hires his own workers for the houses he has flipped in surrounding small towns and does much of his own work to increase the property and rental value. A motion was made and seconded to deny the request on the grounds that the existing neighbors had moved in with the understanding that they would be surrounded by single-family homes. The landowner stated he still intends to improve the property as 2 housing units instead of 4, which is allowed without rezoning.
Leticia Cuellar of La Coste requested to place a manufactured home on a vacant lot she owns adjacent to her residence. Current policy is that a manufactured home may only be placed on a plot if it is replacing another manufactured home, and not as new/additional housing. That policy is to encourage permanent houses to be constructed, which tend to appreciate with time. No action was taken on this variance request as similar requests have not been allowed in the past.
Yard sale issues
Individuals from other towns have been reportedly setting up yard sales on vacant lots with landowner permission, then leaving unsold items up for long periods of time and sometimes indefinitely. The council discussed the issue of permitting of yard sales, and whether or not a non-resident could even have a yard sale since they don’t own a yard in the town. No action was taken, but members will be gathering information to see how other municipalities such as Castroville, Devine and San Antonio handle such sales. Their intent is to keep the town looking nice without unduly restricting citizens from selling their unwanted items.
City hall re-opening discussed
Reopening city hall was discussed, with options such as constructing a permanent plexiglass security/sanitary barrier above the counter or a webcam for in-person visitors. A barrier may be an investment to protect workers from both contagion and physical intrusion into the secure back area of the offices. Currently, all drop-box payments are brought in and sanitized by gloved/masked workers before being processed; the lobby is closed to visitors.
Police activity
Police Chief Johnny Kendricks said that police activity has been mostly back to normal from the reduced number of citations in previous months.
Special meeting set for Dec.1
The Dec 15th regular meeting has been canceled and a special meeting has been scheduled to address a request from Mr. David Bragg, regarding a development agreement within La Coste’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). This public meeting will be held at the La Coste City Hall on Dec 1 at 7:00 PM.
By Kyle G. Saathoff
Staff Writer