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Council blesses new Brodie development

Monday, August 16, 2004 by

Developer promises to develop away from 'blowing sink' CEF

The City Council unanimously approved the rezoning of 31 acres at the intersection of Brodie Lane and Deer Lane last week, lining up with recommendations from city staff, the Environmental Board and the Zoning and Platting Commission. Under an agreement with the city, applicant William Walters III will provide a landscaping plan for use of native plants and integrated pest management when he submits his site plan. The property is within the Barton Springs zone of the Edwards Aquifer and the developer has promised to comply with the SOS Ordinance. It remains to be seen whether a neighborhood charrette, scheduled for this past weekend, will have any impact on the future design of the development—which must return for second and third reading on August 26.

The development, known as Brodie 31, will include one sit-down restaurant, one fast food restaurant, a single automotive repair facility and convenience storage as the only permitted commercial use. In addition, there will be a 4.2-acre conservation easement surrounding two hazardous pipelines. There will be an additional 10.7-acre easement and clustering away from several critical environmental features that are on city property adjacent to the Brodie 31 tract. The best known of those features is called the blowing sink. The city environmental staff supported Walters’ plan, which includes a prohibition on use of coal tar-based asphalt sealants and a promise to direct storm water run off away from the city’s nature preserve on Brodie. Paul Linehan of Land Strategies represented Walters.

Environmental Board members were concerned about possible pollution from the car repair shop when they heard the case in June, but they voted unanimously to grant approval if the developer would agree to numerous conditions. Those included a restrictive covenant with the city to insure that only biodegradable cleaning fluids would be used on the site and that the owner would build an additional bay to act as a separate back up containment area for all automotive fluids. The developer and the staff had already agreed to a number of other conditions to minimize the possibility of contamination of the aquifer.

Christian Brothers Automotive is the proposed tenant for the automotive shop and has agreed to all of the conditions in the restrictive covenant, according to city staff, and any tenant who takes over the location will be held to those same conditions.

Two nearby neighborhood associations sent John Larkin to complain about traffic and other problems they perceived with the zoning requests. Larkin said the neighborhood would be having a charrette on Saturday and they wanted the Council to delay action until after that. However, the Council agreed to act on first reading only and Greg Guernsey of the Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department said he would be assisting in the charrette.

“Nobody here is saying that we don’t want this built out. We want it built out of an enduring quality, non-branded infrastructure, and we think we’ve got some really good ideas, “ Larkin said. He added that he and his neighbors had met with Linehan five times and that the developer had not changed the uses originally proposed.

Linehan responded that he had worked with the neighbors and would continue to do so. However, Brodie Lane is a major arterial and offices—which the neighborhood said they preferred—were not needed in that area.

Two other neighborhood associations objected to the hearing, but it turned out those groups were not within the area to be notified when notices went out, according to Alice Glasco, director of Neighborhood Planning and Zoning. She noted some “puzzled looks” from the dais, and explained that notice is sent to all property owners within 300 feet of a tract being zoned and to all neighborhood associations that have notified the city that their boundaries include the subject tract. But the homeowners in question did not fall into either category and they had not redesigned their boundaries to include the Brodie 31 tract, Glasco said.

Council Member Betty Dunkerley said, “I still don't understand. Does this mean then a neighborhood association in Northwest Austin could come in and say, ‘I want a delay?’” Glasgo said yes, anyone with an interest could request postponement.

Council Member Brewster McCracken pointed out that the nearby neighborhood associations had been given their postponement two weeks earlier. Council Member Raul Alvarez wanted to postpone the case further but found no support on the dais.

Planning Commission OKs more parking for ACC

will be allowed to add more than 300 new parking spaces at its Eastview Campus at 3401 Webberville Road. The college district received approval from the Planning Commission last week for the site plan conditional use permit that is required before the project can proceed. The site plan had been revised by ACC to preserve more trees and reduce the number of spaces after discussions with neighborhood representatives.

"We worked to redesign the parking lot to preserve more of the existing vegetation that's there," said Bronson Dorsey, ACC Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations. "We think we've gotten to a point where we've reached as much consensus and agreement as we're going to reach on this." The changes will preserve 19 more trees than in the original design for the parking lot and reduce the overall amount of impervious cover. Parking at ACC's Eastview Campus already meets city code requirements, but representatives of the college said the additional parking is needed to keep up with growing enrollment.

Neighborhood representatives said ACC had been responsive to some of their concerns, but asked for more time for discussion on the new parking lot. "We did work out some of the details about the specific site. There are still other members of the community who have not had an opportunity to review what we have gone through, said Daniel Llanes of the Govalle-Johnston Terrace Neighborhood Planning Team. "We had a good relationship and a good negotiation, but there are still concerns about how ACC is serving the east side . . . and our environmental concerns for protecting the watershed."

The Planning Commission split over whether to approve the new parking lot. The plans for the parking area were required to go before the commission because they involve more than one acre of parking and the ACC property is zoned "P" (Public) zoning. The size of the parking area in question prompted some commissioners to oppose the project, although not enough of them to derail it.

Commissioner Dave Sullivan noted that Capital Metro's proposed rail line would pass near the Eastview Campus, and urged the college to consider building its parking in phases rather than all at once. Limited parking, he said, could encourage students to take mass transit instead of driving their own cars. "We took that step with West Campus, and it's being bitterly fought by the student population. But still, it required sacrifice to move our society from a motor vehicle-dominated one to one that features alternative transportation," he said. "I think we took the right steps with the West Campus. I think we need to move in a similar direction with regard to other institutions, especially ones that we pay for with our own tax dollars." Commissioner Matthew Moore agreed. "In the long term, we've got to find ways to use public policy to shift transportation from the individual car to public transit," Moore said. "There's two ways that's going to happen. It's by making it inconvenient and expensive. The inconvenience would be riding mass transit. The expensive way to be to have structured parking."

But the majority of commission members sided with Commissioner Cid Galindo, who supported ACC's bid to add parking spaces. "I don't think it's fair to compare this ACC campus with what we were trying to do with the much more densely populated area in the West Campus, where students really did have the option of walking to class," he said. "Even thought the rail may be coming close by, the rail is going to serve a very limited population in the northwest. I don't think that's going to be a viable option for the student population we're encouraging for ACC. ACC provides an important service to our community, and I think we need to be able to provide infrastructure so students can, in fact, use it and benefit from it."

The vote in favor of the conditional use site plan was 6-2, with Commissioners Moore and Sullivan opposed. The decision can be appealed to the full City Council.

A death in the family . . . Kathleen Morgan, the mother of Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, passed away Thursday night. The family is planning a small, private service for Mrs. Morgan, who grew up in Las Cruces, N.M . . . Light meeting week. . . The Arts Commission will meet at 6:30 at Waller Creek Plaza. They will make recommendations concerning projects for Art in Public Places. Vincent Kitch will update the commission on efforts by the Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office . . . The Hospital District board will begin another marathon meeting at 11am today at the Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center, 2802 Webberville Road . . . On Tuesday, they will begin meeting at 11am at the MAP Building/Cesar Chavez, 1111 Cesar Chavez. One of the big decisions they will be facing this week is whether to appoint a district administrator from among those they know are interested or to set up a formal process for such an appointment . . . Fan drive celebration . . . Dona Emilia’s South American Bar & Grill will host a celebration of Family Eldercare’s Summer Fan Drive. It may be cooler than usual this August, but it’s still plenty hot to those who cannot afford a fan or air conditioning. Donations will provide fans and window units for those most critically in need and donors will be treated to the chef’s tasting menus and cool beverages. For more information or tickets, call 483-3579 or visit the web site http://www.familyeldercare.org

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