The Carbon Company development at 17 Herff has renamed itself "Legacy at the Cibolo".
An apt name for a controversial plan for an old neighborhood. There has been strong opposition to the requested zoning from citizens through overflow City Council meetings, petitions, public demonstrations, and letters to the editor.
We have been told that the developer needed the dense commercial and residential zoning to "make his numbers work". This means that the developer speculated on the property, buying it before securing the needed zoning. Did the developer ever ask the City staff if he needed to make the purchase conditional on receiving the desired zoning? Should the City feel responsible to help the developer make a profit on land he speculated on? Should the developer's interest outweigh the sentiments of the community?
The legacy of 17 Herff is up for grabs. This legacy may be ambitious commercialism, more sprawl, more traffic at an already overly-busy intersection, or perhaps something a little less radical. Why turn it into one of the most densely developed parcels in town? Why stray so far from the wishes of Boerne's citizens as represented by the Master Plan and citizen advocacy in opposing high density development at 17 Herff? How Boerne answers these questions will reshape the entire stretch of Herff Road and set a long-term precedent for growth. This will be the real legacy of 17 Herff. How local leaders address this question will become the signature of their public service career. It is not just about the decision for 17 Herff, but a decision about how we as a community make these kinds of decisions in the future, and whose interests are promoted by local officials and representatives.
Boerne's legacy may well be one of rapid growth and sweeping commercial enterprises, or one of reasoned development that honors a community vision and enhances the quality of life for future generations. City Council still has the opportunity to demonstrate that they listen.
There are those who suggest that if the City were to turn down the developer's request, that this would send a message to other potential developers that Boerne is anti-growth, and that somehow this would slow the growth of the City and hurt the local economy. This is an exaggerated fear tactic, based on a false assumption. Most developers understand that you don't speculate on property unless you have the zoning you need in hand. Most developers understand that this is a unique neighborhood, one treasured by many in the community. Most developers understand that there are better places for three story apartments. Most developers know that Boerne is the seat of the second fastest growing county in the nation, and it would take far more than one refused request to slow down this train.
We are a boom town now, and we have to be careful that our legacy is not the loss of what makes our town special. 17 Herff will leave a legacy alright - one we can cherish, one we can tolerate, or one we regret.