CIBOLO — Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, which is one reason city officials are pondering a possible moratorium on home construction for half a year.
The rapid expansion of this once sleepy hamlet on the fringes of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph is straining resources, City Council heard during a recent meeting.
“If we cannot provide the basics of public safety, then what good is growth to us?” Councilman John Hicks queried his colleagues.
Also during the March 12 council session, town leaders voted to award Santikos Entertainment of San Antonio a five-year, $750,000 economic incentives package ahead of the company’s multiplex debut this summer.
Meanwhile, Hicks urged for a house-building moratorium for six months because the city’s infrastructure is being “stressed.”
“It is coming to a point where public safety is being threatened by growth,” he said. “We have grown our city in a way that makes it affordable with great schools and great folks and has made it desirable to homebuilders, but we need to take a look at essential smart-growth exits because if we overcrowd our schools, streets and land, then (Cibolo) won’t be a great place to live.”
To adopt a suspension, the council and the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission must conduct a public hearing, City Attorney Frank Garza told officials.
Any construction pause would begin five days following the first public gathering; council would then have 30 days to develop written findings justifying the need for a freeze.
Residential moratoriums are effective for 120 days, Garza said, with the option of an extension as long as the city shows a “good-faith” effort to address deficiencies within its public facilities.
Councilman Brian Byrd opposed the idea, citing Cibolo’s recognition as one of Texas’ safest cities based on first responders’ capacity to handle emergency situations.
To support his argument, the councilman, after querying a city staff member, noted that only one police officer was hired last year.
“Yet, we are going to say we are stretched too thin,” Byrd said. “I say that the citizens should fire every single one of us (council members) if that is the case.”
The city politicos didn’t set a time frame to further discuss the matter.
Regarding the Santikos agreement, the deal met approval in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Tim Woliver dissenting.
Santikos broke ground in fall 2017 on the entertainment complex at the southeast corner of Wiederstein Road and Interstate 35, also part of a larger mixed-use development.
The 87,000-square-foot structure is an added draw to a budding I-35 corridor, which just saw another multiplex owned by EVO Entertainment of San Marcos launch weeks ago across the street in Schertz, officials said.
Down the road, at I-35 and Loop 1604, Ikea in February welcomed thousands to its newest store in Live Oak, another sign of growth in the Randolph Metrocom.
City officials emphasized the importance of helping Santikos – a longtime San Antonio cinema and entertainment company – be the premier destination for area moviegoers.
“When you have your competitor on the ropes doing $5 movie tickets a week after opening day, that is the time to … put your foot on the throttle and keep it there,” Byrd said. “I am willing to help partner with Santikos and help them come out on top.”
According to a copy of the accord between Cibolo and Santikos, the company must meet a series of benchmarks to receive perks.
Among them, Santikos must employ 40 full-time employees ahead of the complex’s launch date and 165 part-time workers during the year. The deal also requires at least 50 percent of the complex’s total workforce be Cibolo inhabitants.
In exchange, Cibolo will: Pay back the company through a 50 percent rebate of general fund sales-tax money; offer a $23,500 grant via its Economic Development Corp., which covers the building and improvements; grant 80 percent of the maintenance and operations property tax generated through the first three years of the pact; and 50 percent of maintenance and operations property tax on the back end of the deal.
Woliver explained his dissatisfaction to fellow council members.
“There’s a lot of stuff we are telling the citizens of Cibolo that we need to spend on, when we don’t have the money to spend on because of revenue,” he said. “We aren’t going to hit everything on our wish list, but it’s one thing to say we want to help you and want to fund stuff, then we make a conscious decision to give up revenue that is coming in.”
Other city leaders countered they wouldn’t be beholden to Santikos if the complex exceeds expectations.
According to the deal, Cibolo ceases obligation to rebate Santikos if the complex generates $15 million in annual gross sales.
Conversely, the city may void the transaction and recapture all funds disbursed during the bargain if Santikos doesn’t hold up its end.
“The fact that they are bringing high-quality (businesses) is going to supersede anything we may be giving up,” said Councilman Ted Gibbs.
In the works are more than a dozen screens with 1,400 seats, a 16-lane bowling alley, a high-energy sports bar, laser tag and a high-end arcade.