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Planning Commission approves

Wednesday, September 20, 2000 by

Last night the Planning Commission blessed a detailed three-and-a-half page agreement between the Hyde Park Baptist Church and the 5 Neighborhoods United Steering Committee governing use of the church’s property known as the Quarries. The agreement details limits for traffic to be generated by the church’s proposed school, recreation center and daycare facility at 4400 Mesa Woods Drive. Last week negotiators for both sides asked the commission for a postponement to work out final details of the agreement.

On Monday night, negotiators for the church, including Richard Suttle of Armbrust Brown & Davis, and Tom Terry and Bobbi Henley of the neighborhood group, put the final touches on the document which becomes part of the property’s conditional use permit. Last night, the Planning Commission added some minor changes before voting 7-0 in favor of the agreement.

The church has agreed to submit construction plans for a new driveway leading directly from the Quarries property to MoPac to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) at the same time as plans for the first phase of the church’s multi-use facility. According to the agreement, all construction traffic will use the MoPac driveway.

Neighbors remain concerned about the amount of traffic the 600-student high school and 200-student day care facility will generate through their neighborhood. To help minimize that traffic, Hyde Park Baptist has agreed to conduct 24-hour traffic counts on Spotted Horse and Mesa Woods during school days. The parties worked out complicated rules that the church agrees to follow to help limit traffic on those streets in particular.

One neighbor who still had bones to pick with the church was former City Council Member Larry Deuser, who is now president of the Angus Valley Neighborhood Association. Deuser said he was concerned because, “There’s no enforcement process or remedy. While we’re all of good faith, I think there needs to be some penalty and way to determine whether there has been a breach of the agreement.” Deuser said he supports the agreement in general, but wanted a specific mechanism for enforcing it.

Commissioner Ben Heimsath suggested having a third party, such as the City of Austin, do the traffic counts. The commission agreed, adding a few words that would give the city authority—but not the obligation—to do such counts, if the church fails to do so.

Assistant City Attorney David Smith said, “Just the agreement alone saying the city will do it does not obligate the city.”

Suttle said the church has agreed not to conduct outdoor events involving amplified music or lights after 10 p.m.. However, he said the church and its neighbors are still working on questions about non-athletic events that do not use amplified sound, such as Boy Scout camp-outs and sunrise services.

Hyde Park Baptist agreed to establish a committee, which would include church members to meet regularly with neighborhood representatives to iron out problems and review concerns about construction and the church’s operations. The church has also agreed to change its address from Mesa Woods/Spotted Horse to a MoPac address, subject to city and county approval.

Commissioner Susana Almanza left before this item was discussed. Commissioner Robin Cravey did not participate “for professional reasons.” He is an attorney.

The Planning Commission last night postponed consideration of a South Austin subdivision for at least two weeks after a handful of Greenwood Hills residents expressed concerns about possible flooding on Old Castle Road.

Developer Jerry Berez is planning 111 homes in the $130,000 to $150,000 price range off South Congress near St. Elmo Road. The development has been christened Colonial Trails. Six acres on the south side of the 43-acre tract facing Weidemar Lane will be reserved for commercial development. An apartment complex is also a possibility in the preliminary plans, says Vice President Candice Wiggins of International Realty Group. If approved, construction likely would start next spring.

What concerns local residents like Dawn Andrade is a proposed detention pond that backs up to her property. All the houses in Greenwood Hills that directly abut the Colonial Trails tract are in a 100-year flood plain. Andrade told the Planning Commission she is concerned that overflow and erosion from the detention pond could be a serious problem.

Engineer Jerry Tuttle of Baker-Aicklen & Associates assured commissioners that the drainage system in place should guarantee the new subdivision has no impact on local drainage issues, especially downstream. Greenwood Hills, in the Williamson Creek watershed, is already drained by a ditch that runs between the subdivision and Colonial Trails.

But Andrade is more concerned about overflow. "The entire 43 acres will be draining into that drainage pond, and my property will be the one most impacted by any overflow from that drainage," said Andrade, who added that she understood that development would come to the area. "What I would like to know is why other portions of the city are able to enjoy good drainage while all along Old Castle Road we're near capacity or at capacity."

City staff could had no answers about current drainage problems in the area. After the hearing, local civic leaders said heavy rains on Williamson Creek have flooded the area.

Another ditch will be added to drain Colonial Trails into its own water quality pond, said engineer Ken Aicklen of Baker-Aicklen & Associates. That water quality pond will drain into a detention pond that is intended to withstand up to a 100-year storm. The detention pond, when filled, will use a mechanism to drain it at a rate that is equivalent to the rate water currently drains in the area, Aicklen said.

Aicklen said the developer was willing to meet with local residents to address any of their concerns. Commissioners, in particular Ben Heimsath, asked questions about the roadways on the property. The developer is likely to consider a hike-and-bike trail off Sheraton Avenue into the Greenwood Hills subdivision that would allow Greenwood Hills residents the chance to cross over to neighborhood streets. Greenwood Hills civic leaders said they would be happy to share the cost of maintaining the common areas if the developer could find a way to add a pedestrian-friendly path.

The Planning Commission voted to delay a decision on the subdivision plans for at least two weeks. Commissioner Susana Almanza was absent from the dais when the vote was taken.

©2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

City planners falling down on the job?.. Betty Edgemond told the Planning Commission last night that neighborhoods are not receiving propert notice on zoning cases. The vice chair of the Board of Adjustments said neighborhoods don’t always receive timely notification, and at other times receive notification with incorrect maps. Edgemond also noted that Planning Commissioners often lack the proper back-up for motions or are given material the same day they are expected to vote on complicated issues. At one recent meeting, said Edgemond, not one planner in the room could tell the commission the proper land use designation for cellular towers. "We are delaying long enough on some of these cases that we have here," said Edgemond. "When I have more information than the city planner does, that's not right.”… Steiner recommendation delayed… The Planning Commission postponed consideration of the proposed development agreement between the city and owners of Steiner Ranch until Oct.3. Commissioners said they did not have sufficient time to consider the agreement, which was presented to them last night. The City Council is scheduled to take action on the agreement on Oct. 5. Commissioners were expecting to conduct a public hearing, but no one signed up to speak on the matter last night… East side concerns… Robert Donley, president of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, told the Planning Commission he is very concerned about the fact that small children and 18-wheelers are running side by side on Tillery Street. He said his neighborhood is still trying to rezone neighborhood property from LI (limited industrial) to some lower use that would get the trucks out of the neighborhood. Neighborhood groups have been at odds with city planners over the planning process in the Govalle area… Ready for reggae?..A portion of the afternoon gate proceeds from the 2000 Bob Marley Festival, to be held at Austin’s Waterloo Park, Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8, will benefit Earth Share of Texas. Earth Share of Texas supports the work of 72 member environmental organizations by representing them in payroll deduction plans throughout Texas. The reggae and worldbeat festival runs from noon until 10 p.m. both days. For festival information, call 512/451-4624, or go to www.bobmarley-festival.com.

© 2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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