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Hearing on Hyde Park neighborhood,

Wednesday, May 16, 2001 by

Church plans put off for one week

Planning Commission to hear both cases together

Faced with two incompatible neighborhood plans and two first-time requests for postponement, the Planning Commission last night voted to put off hearing the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan for one week. In addition, the Commission voted to postpone a competing plan for property owned by the Hyde Park Baptist Church (HPBC) in the same neighborhood. That too will be heard next Tuesday.

Kris Kasper, an attorney with Armbrust, Brown and Davis, said Richard Suttle, the partner who generally represents HPBC, was out of town. The church opposes being included in the neighborhood’s plan, wishing to have its own Neighborhood Conservation Combining District (NCCD). Kasper said his firm received some new comments from city staff on Monday and wanted time to consider them. Staff has recommended against granting the church’s request for an NCCD, while supporting the neighborhood’s district.

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District won unanimous approval from the Historic Landmark Commission in April. At the time, Suttle told the Landmark Commission, “The church doesn’t want to be in the NCCD. Of course, the church will do whatever is necessary to try to get out of it.” (See In Fact Daily, April 24, 2001)

Karen McGraw, chair of the Hyde Park Planning Team, pointed out that she and other neighborhood members had worked hard to bring out the thirty or so people waiting to testify in support of the plan. “I also just want to mention that we have had many meetings at which the church could come and talk about the plan. We have provided every opportunity. I don’t care when you have the church hearing. We don’t want to be postponed for that issue.” However, the commission customarily grants a first request for postponement. Both the church and another property owner requested that the NCCD hearing be postponed.

Commission Chair Betty Baker said both plans should be heard the same night because they are in the same area. Meghan Weiters, neighborhood planner, said the Montopolis Neighborhood Plan and associated zoning had already been scheduled for next Tuesday. There is no meeting on May 29. Two other neighborhoods have been scheduled for commission hearings on June 5, and the June 12 meeting has been cancelled. The Hyde Park plan is scheduled to go to the City Council on June 14.

After hearing the schedule, the commission voted 6-1 to postpone for one week. Commissioner Lydia Ortiz voted no, while Commissioner Ben Heimsath abstained because he lives in Hyde Park. Commissioner Robin Cravey was absent.

The church has sued the city over the City Council’s failure to allow the congregation to build a new parking lot. There is also a bill at the Legislature, HB3548 by Rep.Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), that could have far-reaching effects on municipal regulation of land owned by churches all over the state.

The bill states, “the governing body of a municipality that permits the exercise of religion or organized religious worship in both residential and commercial zoning districts may enforce, on property . . . that is owned by a religious organization, including educational and parking facilities, only the least restrictive site development regulations applying to the least restrictive zoning district that allows organized religious worship.” (See In Fact Daily, April 25, 2001)

Susan Moffat of the Alliance to Save Hyde Park said Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) last week shot down several attempts by Chisum to attach language from the bill to other pieces of legislation. Moffat praised Naishtat’s parliamentary skills, but noted that Chisum seems very determined.

Council appoints new airport board,

Task force to study commissions

Spelman, Baker top task force list

The City Council last week finally appointed new members of the Airport Advisory Commission. The previous advisory group was disbanded in January after a multitude of squabbles and problems between some commissioners and city staff. The most surprising choice for the new panel is Hannah Riddering, a member of the vocal minority on the previous board. Riddering said Friday, while attending a reception and dinner for those who have served on city commissions, that she had not received any notice from the city of her appointment.

Riddering is a taxi driver and a leader in the National Organization for Women. Another face from the previous commission is Joseph Trochta, who sits firmly in the pro-staff camp. The Council also appointed Eleanor Cochran, Dr. Floyd Davis, Cindy Garcia, Steven Morales, Michael Voticky, Phil Williams and Amanda Kagle. Appointments were made by consensus.

The Council also made appointments to the task force to review city boards and commissions. The Council appointed five of nine members, including former Council Member Bill Spelman, Planning Commission Chair Betty Baker, Joseph Martinez of the Electric Utility Commission, Mary Ruth Holder of the Parks and Recreation Board, and Leonard Lyons, a member of the previous Airport Advisory Board. Joining that group are City Manager Jesus Garza’s appointees— Assistant City Attorney John Steiner, Director of Finance John Stephens, City Clerk Shirley Brown and C’Anne Dougherty of the Auditor’s office.

Other consensus appointments include Al DiCristofaro to the Bond Oversight Committee and Austin Dullnig to the Human Rights Commission. Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman appointed Connie Seibert to fill the vacancy left by Buzz Avery on the Environmental Board. Council Member Raul Alvarez appointed Gordon Alexander to the Resource Management Commission. Council Member Daryl Slusher reappointed Sonia Santana to the Community Development Commission and Mayor Kirk Watson reappointed John Cole and Ben Sifuentes to the Urban Renewal Board.

©2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Pool request postponed . . . A representative of Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson decided to ask the Board of Adjustment for a postponement Monday when it became apparent that board members were not inclined to grant a variance request. Henderson wants to make improvements on a home he owns at 1208 Cotton Street. Gigi Edwards told the board that Henderson wants to build a swimming pool for his mother, who is undergoing physical therapy, but that would increase the amount of impervious cover at the site. Henderson’s mother lives nearby and another relative lives in the house in question . . . Pipeline rules tabled . . . State Representative Ann Kitchen (D-Austin) tried to attach language to a Senate bill relating to the Texas Railroad Commission on Tuesday. Her amendment would have added more regulations to the Longhorn Pipeline. The language was similar to that of Kitchen's HB 1857, which has been bottled up in committee. But her proposal ran into stiff opposition from State Representative Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), whose district would receive gasoline shipped through the pipeline. Her amendment was tabled.

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