BOERNE, Texas – When will Chick-Fil-A come to Boerne? It is a very popular question for just about everyone who lives in the town outside San Antonio.
But it brings to the surface an issue District 3 City Councilmember Charlie Boyd IV and business owner Paula Hayward see firsthand.
What should Boerne look like in the future, and what kind of development is OK with residents and which is likely to cause an uproar?
The hot-button issues include the Buc-ee’s and the proposed luxury development at 17 Herff Road.
“I think there is some growth that is pushed by developers. The big challenge is, is that the right growth?” Hayward said.
“I think some of the struggle that we are dealing with now is that internal growth and redevelopment of some areas, infrastructure and filling in the vacant lands,” Boyd said. “It is hard. Nobody has a clear picture of really what that is.”
It is that unclear picture that gives pause to Hayward, a Main Street business owner. She has owned the popular Bear Moon Bakery for 22 years and lived in the area for nearly 30.
“I think there are a couple of development pushes along our cultural and environmental corridors that I think could be detrimental,” she said. “I think they could affect traffic patterns.”
Currently, 14,000 people call the city home and it has enough water to accommodate 35,000 people and the future commercial business the new residents will bring.
The U.S. Census Bureau said Kendall County was the second-fastest growing county (percentage change) with more than 10,000 people in the county in the U.S. from June 2015 to June 2016.
The residents against Buc-ee’s and 17 Herff point out that the developments don’t fit with the current make up of Boerne.
"Development is sort of getting out of control in the minds of many of us old-timers up here," Boerne resident Bob Vollmer said in a previous report on KSAT.
Boerne's deputy city manager and economic development director Jeff Thompson said the Weitzman Group owns the nearly 27 acres of land between Cibolo Creek and the Cibolo Nature Center. The site plan details housing, retail shops and restaurants for the area, which could pose environmental concerns.
"It is directly across from our city park, so obviously, the city has a vested interest in what goes there and not damaging the environment," Thompson said.
The controversy has become so heated that several dozen teenagers rallied at 17 Herff last week in protest of the plans.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Dozen protest proposed development of green space
While the fate of 17 Herff is not set in stone, Boyd said it is likely something will be built there, “whether this project or another one down the road."
The councilman also said while many in Boerne talk of wanting to keep “that small town feel,” he often finds they are OK with certain chain developments — if it adds to their quality of life.
“‘I don’t want chain, I want local, but Chick-Fil-A is OK,’” Boyd said of his conversations with some residents.
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Hayward says more can be done in the type of people the city is marketed toward.
“I think we are missing things that are attractors to 30-somethings, young 40-somethings,” she said. ”There is that particular after college segment we really need for future leadership. If for nothing else, for further leadership and for the future of Boerne.”
She said she would like to see more family-oriented activities and pocket parks in the city.
A wish list she will carry with her to the city’s new Master Plan Committee. In December, she and 23 other residents were chosen to sit on the city’s new committee. The group will be meeting with people that have a vested interest in Boerne’s success. There will also be a community input meeting in May.
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The goal is to have the new plan in place before the end of the year.
“I encourage the citizens to get involved, so we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, because we have a pretty great deal going here,” Hayward said.
“It is a matter of us coming together as a community,” Boyd said. “The growth changes us, but the people are what make Boerne, Boerne.”
Even with the implementation of the new master plan, Boyd said he feels that it will not answer every question about future growth. “We are putting a lot of square pegs in round holes,” he said
As downtown grows, Hayward said she is encouraged that business owners are coming together like never before.
“Now we sit together once a month and have very instructive conversation, about events to do together,” she said. “We share problems. We do some strong social media with each other. We have an app now for downtown. There is a lot more give and give with each other.”
Boyd said while there is concern about what Boerne will look like in the future, he said residents should focus more on, “finding what unites us, and not divides us.”
As for the rumored Chick-Fil-A, Boyd said he recently spoke to franchisee owner and was told Boerne is “on the radar.”
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