A 298-unit apartment complex opposed by many Stone Oak residents seems to be moving ahead, despite concerns aired by neighbors during a packed meeting with District 9 Councilman John Courage.
At a recent public gathering, Courage explained because the property since 1986 had been zoned for multifamily units, neither a change in zoning nor City Council action was applicable.
“We have tried to explore every avenue to determine what is going on — has it been approved? Is it authorized? Is there anything we can do to stop it?” Courage said during the session attended by more than 200 residents. “And, I will tell you if I had an opportunity to stop this project, I would have. As some of you know, I am not happy with the growth, development in that area — too many apartments.”
The planned Vecina Apartments at 20915 Wilderness Oak Road is under the direction of Birmingham, Alabama-based LIV Development. The firm specializes in building multifamily complexes.
LIV Development project manager Andrew Murray, who is in charge of the Vecina apartment project, did not respond to requests for comment.
During the two-hour meeting at Lifehouse Church March 4, neighbors offered their opinions to city representatives on why the $35 million development might be unfit for the area.
Many worried about the impact the project, and others, will have on traffic congestion along Wilderness Oak and Huebner Road.
Vecina will be adjacent to another complex — 306-unit Los Robles, which was under construction for almost two years and has begun taking in residents.
Michael Shannon, the city’s development services director, said legally little can be done to halt Vecina because the property has vested rights to build multifamily housing.
“Grandfathering on many of the land-use rights we have with the state of Texas — it’s not subject to the same property owner,” Shannon said. “You can sell your land, and as long as the project or the preliminary plans remain valid, the rights or the grandfathering of the property remain in place.”
According to documents filed in late 2018 with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the apartments are being built on an open plat of 11.38 acres between Wilderness Oak Elementary School and Lifehouse. Plans call for a maximum of 300 units, nine or 10 buildings, and up to four stories tall — 45 to 50 feet.
Shannon said the company has received tree, site and utilities, and traffic median permits. At press time, the business did not yet have a vertical building permit.
“There is no construction date yet, but normally apartment complexes will take about a year to build. They could be opening around 2021 or longer,” Shannon said.
Neighbor Lara McDaniel also expressed concerns about vehicle congestion caused by the apartments, principally at the Blanco Road and Wilderness Oak intersection.
In addition, she is also upset trees were removed from the property, which abuts a city-owned trail at Panther Springs Park named after her son Wyatt, who died in an outdoor accident in 2013.
“I don’t understand how an Alabama company can come in our state and knock down all of that nature along a park, along my son’s trail,” McDaniel said. Courage said city officials are exploring options.
“We’ve talked to our tree-preservation department here in San Antonio. They are going to go ahead and add more trees along the trail on our side of the property right now,” the councilman noted. “The developers are planning to put in some green things, but it will never be the same. We will try to go ahead and make it a more decent trail, so people will walk on it and it is an attractive area.”