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Council approves zoning for

Friday, January 10, 2003 by

East 7th Street banquet hall

Zoning would not allow nightclub, but neighbors unhappy

Parents of Allan Elementary School children left Thursday’s City Council meeting dissatisfied after the Council approved a zoning change for land on East 7th at Shady Lane. The Council voted 5-2 to change the tract to CS-CO, which will allow owner Rosa Santis to open her proposed Plaza Amistad banquet hall. Santis had requested CS-1 for part of the tract, but the CS-CO (commercial services with conditional overlay) zoning will still allow the sale of alcohol on the site, provided she receives the proper permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission .

Although the measure approved by the Council avoids the CS-1designation, neighborhood representatives were still upset that alcohol could be sold on the property. “We’re not happy at all,” said Geneva Oliva. Teresa Schreiber told the Council that additional alcohol sales would hurt the area. “I’ve never seen so many people wanting this alcohol, alcohol, alcohol,” she said. “We already have so many places where you can buy alcohol.”

Attorney Mack Ray Hernandez, representing Santis, told Council members that the CS-1 designation would have allowed them increased control over the sale of alcohol on the site. Under the CS-CO zoning, Santis will be able to apply for a mixed-beverage permit for a restaurant on the site. But that will also mean that revenue from alcohol can account for less than half of the combined food and drink revenue. “At many of the celebrations that would be held there, typically what is served is nothing more than finger food,” said Hernandez. “The food sales will not equate or surpass the alcohol sales . . . for that reason, we do want the CS-1 for the footprint of the building. However, we agree never to have a bar or cocktail lounge operation. That’s not the intended use of this facility.” The CS-1 zoning would have also prohibited guests from bringing their own alcohol, which would be allowed in certain cases under the CS-CO zoning. Council Member Daryl Slusher sided with Hernandez and Santis, voting against the CS-CO on the basis that CS-1 would have eliminated the BYOB option. Council Member Danny Thomas also voted against zoning the property CS-CO.

Mayor Gus Garcia, who surrendered the chair of the meeting to Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman to move approval of CS-CO, said it was an acceptable compromise. “This has not been an easy case,” Garcia said. “But after listening to everybody’s concerns, it seems to me that the property owner has a right to use this land. I think the applicant has been careful about putting in restrictive covenant items.”

Santis said she was disappointed that the Council had chosen to limit the options for how she would use the site, but that she would still be moving forward with the project. “There are a lot of restrictions to future business, “Santis said. “When you’re trying to establish a business, you need to have a Plan A and Plan B. If for any reason Plan A doesn’t work very well, the business should have an opportunity to move to Plan B. In this case, they’ve tied my hands . . . I’m going to try to do my best.”

Travis Commissioners ask How district would serve clinics

Many details of asset transfer unresolved

County Commissioners have not yet resolved how the county’s six rural health care clinics will be handed over to a proposed hospital district.

Commissioners were posted to discuss legislation and funding for the hospital district on Monday. Instead, court members briefly discussed how the county might transfer its assets to the proposed hospital district authority.

Commissioner Karen Sonleitner pointed out that it was the county, not the hospital district, which had the state mandate to provide indigent health care. She said the shifting of clinic ownership “should not leave what we do unfulfilled.”

All of the six rural health clinics— Oak Hill, Pflugerville, Manor, Del Valle, Jonestown and Post Road—are also divided between health services and social services. Sonleitner queried her fellow commissioners whether the hospital district would own the entire building and lease back half to the county, or vice versa. She added that she didn’t know the answer.

“All I know is that the logistical pieces of this are not just, ‘Oh, you turn over the assets,’” Sonleitner said.

Commissioners Margaret Gomez and Ron Davis also raised the question of voter education. Gomez wanted to make sure taxpayers understand that all health care monies raised by the city and the county would be turned over to the health care district.

“I think we need to have a credible discussion about savings to the taxpayer,” Gomez said, to which Davis responded that the education of voters was important.

A retreat on hospital district issues has been tentatively scheduled for a Saturday at the end of this month, led by the Hospital District Task Force Chair Clark Heidrick.

Planning Commission committee to Study water, housing, transportation

Commission has no neighborhood plans

to consider

It could be another nine months before the Planning Commission hears another neighborhood plan, giving the group plenty of time to look at broader planning issues.

On Tuesday night, the Comprehensive Plan subcommittee of the Planning Commission selected transportation, water/wastewater and housing as the first three topics of the Comprehensive Plan to be presented to the Planning Commission this year.

Presentations are intended to both update the 28-year-old Austin Tomorrow Plan and provide greater context for current zoning decisions. The subcommittee, led by Commissioner Dave Sullivan, is especially interested in the unintended consequences of land decisions.

Transportation will be the first of the three reports. Components will include the CAMPO 2025 plan, with a special emphasis on arterials, as well as presentations on the city’s bicycle-pedestrian plan and rapid transit plan. Commissioner Chris Riley was interested in maximizing the use and redevelopment impact of light rail through downtown.

Sullivan said he was especially interested in seeing all the key players in the room together discussing how all the pieces of the picture would fit together into one larger master plan.

“This is a major subject to me. It’s why I am on the commission,” Sullivan said. “This is the thing that would get short shrift at the old commission, but this is really what we are there for, what we need to know about.”

The subcommittee, which also includes Commissioners Matthew Moore and Lydia Ortiz, would next consider water and wastewater issues. Those include the replacement and maintenance of the city’s current water and wastewater system, as well as impervious cover issues. The commission also intends to incorporate an update on the city’s watershed master plan.

Riley said the TPSD’s two-volume watershed master plan was “one of those very exhaustive, thorough and well done planning efforts that you wonder what it’s lifespan is.” He added that one function of the briefings was to explain to Planning Commission members what types of planning and research have been done by city staff.

The housing discussion will likely include trends in construction and affordable housing.

At the subcommittee’s next meeting, members intend to present rough drafts of questions to be answered in each presentation. They also intend to solicit questions from other commissioners, hoping to create a more informal question-and-answer session with city staff during each presentation.

© 2003 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

We’re back . . . ZAP starts the year . . . Zoning and Platting Commissioners welcomed new member John Michael Cortez at their first meeting of 2003 this week. The commission made quick work of its agenda, hearing several cases and postponing a few difficult items before adjourning after an hour and fifteen minutes. The request for a zoning change from SF-2 to CS-CO for a lot near the intersection of RR 620 North and Windy Ridge Road was delayed until Jan. 28th to allow commissioners time to visit the site. At the urging of city staff, the commission also delayed hearing a case involving property in the 6500 block of FM 2222 owned by Champion Assets, LTD. Josie Champion is requesting a zoning change from development reserve to LR-CO . . . Gordon possible choice for North Miami . . . Assistant City Manager Lisa Gordon was the top choice of a consultant helping the city council of North Miami, Florida in its search for a new city manager. However, that council rejected all of the six finalists, according to the Miami Herald, voting to do a new search. The consultant resubmitted his recommendations, again placing Gordon at the top of the list. The consultant wrote a memo to city leaders saying that “North Miami is viewed by many managers as being highly political, to the degree that good management is subordinated by political considerations.” He did not say how that made the city different from other cities . . . Round Rock to open road today . . . Round Rock will open the six-lane $10.4 million A.W. Grimes Road at 11 a.m. this morning. Mayor Nyle Maxwell and Chief Paul Conner will both be on hand. The road is named after the Round Rock law officer who was killed in the infamous Sam Bass shootout in 1878 in downtown Round Rock . . . Planning Commission puts off Hyde Park case . . . This week’s Planning Commission meeting was brief. The commission postponed hearing a case in the Hyde Park area related to the A&P Grocery Store site at 3810 Speedway. Hyde Park Baptist Church owns the tract . . . Fast track for trio . . . The Design Commission will put three projects— El Mercado, Pedernales Live and Whole Foods Market—on the fast track with a work session on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The meeting will be on a Tuesday because Monday is the Martin Luther King holiday . . . Arts options up for discussion . . . A Friday night meeting at Dougherty Arts Center will focus on options for public art in Austin. Featured artists will include Mel Chin, Rick Lowe, Celia Munoz and local Mel Ziegler. The four are in town to participate in a two-day study session for public art options in the Town Lake Park. The time will be 7 pm . . . City of Austin sales tax numbers are down again . . . The latest payment from the State Comptroller’s office is $8.2 million. That represents sales activity during November of 2002, and it’s $662,000 below what budget planners had expected . . . Smokers beware . . . Austin Mayor Gus Garcia is asking staff to prepare changes to the city’s smoking ordinance in time for discussion at next week’s meeting. Garcia announced last month he was interested in following the lead of Round Rock, which moved to prohibit smoking in most public places, including restaurants, beginning February 1 . . . Latest on the pipeline . . . After making the rounds through the various city boards and commissions and multiple public meetings over the past few months, the proposed hazardous pipeline ordinance went before the City Council for a public hearing last night. A group representing homeowners who live near the Longhorn Pipeline told Council members they were satisfied with the most recent version of the ordinance (http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/news/02/pipeline_ord.htm). Environmental activist Mike Blizzard joined Darrell Kelly with Neighbors United in voicing support for the proposal. Harry Savio with Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, spoke in opposition, telling Council members that there has not been a pipeline-related death in Austin and the ordinance was not needed. “It’s going to affect 200-million dollars worth of property . . . and create 50 miles of 400-foot nuisance. There’s no real safety gain.” Although the ordinance was approved on first reading, it could be some time before it is finally approved, due to significant opposition.

©

2003 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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