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ZAP recommends zoning for

Thursday, November 29, 2001 by

American Youth Works homes

Neighbors object to small single-family houses

American Youth Works won approval from the Zoning and Platting Commission on Tuesday for a zoning change on lots it owns in the 6300 block of Thurgood Avenue in East Austin near US 183. Changing the zoning from LR (neighborhood commercial) to SF-3 will allow the group to build Smart Housing on three lots, one of which borders US 183.

American Youth Works (AYW) is a non-profit group involved with employment training. Part of that training includes construction experience, which participants gain while building single-family, affordable homes in East Austin. The group has already won approval from the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office for the waiver of fees for zoning verification and zoning application, and would be eligible for other fee waivers when building plans are submitted and reviewed for Smart Housing compliance.

Officials with American Youth Works said they requested the downzoning because they were unaware of the existing LR zoning for the lots. “According to all the county records, it was SF-3,” said Wayne Jeansonne with AYW. “We only found out it was zoned LR when we went down to get our housing permits to start building on them.”

Some members of the Johnson Terrace Neighborhood Association did express concerns about the proposal to put three homes on the currently vacant tract. “We are not opposed to the zoning change,” said neighborhood association member Chris Fanue. “What we are opposed to is the number of houses that will be placed on a lot that, in that neighborhood, would normally be a lot for just one house. If you could take a trip out there, I’m sure you would agree with me that the house next to it could sit in that exact spot and take up the entire tract.”

Jeansonne sought to reassure neighbors the new homes would be in character with their surroundings. “We’re not wanting to move into the neighborhood and shoehorn ourselves in there, we want to look like we’ve been there for a long time. We want to be accepted,” Jeansonne said. “We are going to upgrade the facade for the front of our houses to match the rest of the neighborhood.”

The vote to recommend the change to SF-3 was 6-1-1, with Commissioner Joseph Martinez opposed, Commissioner Angular Adams abstaining and Commissioner Diana Castañeda absent.

Historic panel urges city

To fund Rainey St. study

Recession means funding harder to get

The Historic Landmark Commission this week urged the city to move forward with its proposed economic study of the historic Rainey Street neighborhood, a study that Austan Librach, director of the Transportation, Planning & Sustainability Department, would like to cut.

Librach told HLC at a work session earlier this month that the study was likely to be one of the cuts the department would make as a part of its belt-tightening measures this year. The City Council approved funding for the study in July 2000, along with funding for an economic study of the Seaholm District. The Council delegated both projects to ROMA Design Group of San Francisco.

HLC approved a resolution, which staff has yet to draft, that would encourage the city to complete the study. Pressures persist that could wipe out the Rainey Street district, Commissioner Laurie Limbacher told her fellow commissioners on Monday night. The Rainey Street neighborhood already is recognized as a National Register Historic District—although that has not stopped developers from making offers for its land in recent years.

Historic Preservation Officer Barbara Stocklin described the move as putting the Rainey Street study on “on the back burner” because of budget constraints. Limbacher, who was joined by Chair Lauretta Dowd during the work session in her concerns about the neighborhood, said it needed to be moved back to the front burner again.

“This doesn’t seem like it’s a complicated issue,” Limbacher said. “Certainly if the committee wants to review it, they can. I do think it’s important to move forward with the study on Rainey Street as soon as possible.”

Commissioner Teresa Rabago said a resolution could be sent to the Rainey Street subcommittee and then brought back before the full commission.

The Rainey Street neighborhood covers the 80 acres bordered by I-35, Cesar Chavez, Trinity Street and Town Lake. The proposed ROMA study would articulated the pros and cons of the following three options:

• Preserving the current historic neighborhood with some appropriate in-fill development • Blending the historic with new retail or commercial projects • Razing of area structures to allow full redevelopment

The HLC approved the motion unanimously. A resolution will be drafted and circulated to the members of the Rainey Street committee before being approved by the full commission.

2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

LCRA cancels meeting . . . The Lower Colorado River Authority cancelled last night’s public hearing on the Hays County water line because of predictions of bad weather. A new meeting will be scheduled, perhaps during the second week in December. LCRA spokesperson Sherri Kuhl said the agency has extended the public comment period to January 15th . . . Hyde Park coming off agenda . . . The Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan likely will be postponed until next week’s City Council meeting. Members of the Hyde Park Alliance and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association are meeting next Monday to look at the latest version of the plan—if there is one. Neighbors have complained for weeks that they cannot get the city to turn over a copy of the plan—as they have drawn it—in legal language. The Hyde Park Baptist Church, which opposes inclusion in the plan, will not object. Meanwhile, lawyers for the city and the church have been asked to come up with ideas for settling the suit over the church’s proposed parking garage . . . Sad Dems, happy Repubs . . . Since the three-judge federal panel has pitted three of Austin’s Democratic State Representatives against each other as a result of redistricting, Reps. Glenn Maxey, Elliott Naishtat and Ann Kitchen will have some hard choices to make. The rumor mill has Maxey, who has served long enough to retire at a district judge’s pay, as doing just that. His aide, Eddie Rodriguez, and former candidate Lulu Flores, would be strong contenders for the southeast Travis County seat. Republican County Commissioner Todd Baxter is chomping at the bit to run for a western Travis County district drawn with Republican interests in mind. Kitchen would not have to run against Baxter—but would not want to run against her friend and fellow Democrat Naishtat. But the juiciest rumor has anti-light rail lobbyist Gerald Daugherty seeking appointment to the seat Baxter would be vacating.

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