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New liquor store one too many for Allendale

Monday, December 12, 2005 by

The Zoning and Platting Commission sent retail strip store owner Sam Buford back to negotiate with the Allendale Neighborhood Association last week after homeowners protested that the addition of Sun Wine & Spirits to Buford’s strip center was one liquor store too many for Burnet Road and their residential neighborhood.

Buford, who has redeveloped a 14,000-square-foot strip center at 6800 Burnet Road in the past two years, has already constructed an eight-foot masonry wall on the back of his property. The proposed addition of a 1,500-square-foot liquor store, however, brought out neighbors concerned about additional parking, traffic and lighting issues. The liquor store did not require variances, but it did require a zoning change from CS to CS-1.

The Allendale Neighborhood Association’s executive board declined to support the zoning change after neighbor Steven Zettner raised concerns. Zettner, who lives behind the retail strip center, said a liquor store would bring unwanted traffic and crime to the area. In a letter to the city, Zettner reported that crime jumped after King Liquors moved into the 5800 block of Burnet. Crime statistics showed one burglary and nine thefts in 2003 but four burglaries and 17 thefts in 2004. Nothing had been added to that block, Zettner said, other than the liquor store.

John Cantrell, the owner of Sun Wine & Spirits, argued that a number of other liquor stores operated in the neighborhood, including Grapevine Market, King Liquors and Twin Liquors. That argument appeared to dissuade, rather than persuade, Chair Betty Baker, who noted that the neighborhood appeared to have more than enough stores.

“You’re going down the wrong road,” Baker warned. “It appears we have enough liquor stores already available in the neighborhood.”

Cantrell told the commission he would have no drive-through window, would sell no lottery tickets and intended to discourage “breaking” six-packs of beer for single-beer sales. He told ZAP commissioners that he had no reports of crime problems outside his package store in Oak Hill and was willing to work with local residents on solutions.

Paul Nagy, treasurer of the Allendale Neighborhood Association, said another liquor store, only a stone’s throw from schools, a park and two churches on Justin Lane, would not help the neighborhood. As it is, no one has to drive more than a half-mile to have access to a neighborhood liquor store on Burnet Road. Buford also had made insufficient efforts to compromise with the neighborhood, he said.

The concerns were strong enough to raise a red flag with commissioners but not strong enough to win a vote. Joseph Martinez offered a motion to deny zoning, which Baker seconded for matter of discussion, but couldn’t win a majority of the commissioners. Commissioner Janis Pinnelli was ill, which left a tie vote.

Some commissioners, like Teresa Rabago, were impressed by Buford’s effort to compromise or offer a binding covenant, a second time, on his property. Rabago made a motion to send Buford and Cantrell back to talk to the Allendale neighbors to address more issues. The case will be back on the agenda on January. 17. Martinez was the lone vote against the motion to reschedule the matter.

Long Center nears 2005 fundraising goal

Fundraisers near $25 million for year

After a hard three-year dry spell, those raising funds for the Long Center for the Performing Arts are within striking distance of their $77 million goal to build and operate a privately funded performing arts center on the site of the former Palmer Auditorium.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke at a Long Center breakfast last week, the eighth of eight breakfasts the fund-raising team has hosted since February to encourage corporate and private donations for the center. Dewhurst joked in his brief speech that his predecessor, the flinty-eyed Bob Bullock, would have informed the crowd that he held the name of every person in the room and expected every last person to help out.

“I always thought Bullock was a sissy,” joked Dewhurst, drawing laughs. “As the lieutenant governor with more 31-0 votes on the record than any lieutenant governor in history, let me share that I not only have a list of who’s invited but also those who were invited and didn’t come today.”

Dewhurst promised to double his pledge from last year, an amount that no one was willing to disclose. In addition, Chairman Joe Long and the Long Center team accepted checks of $100,000 from Fulbright & Jaworski and $50,000 from Humana. The Long Center has raised $21 million for the venue since Dallas-area arts administrator Cliff Redd came on board as executive director last summer.

Austin voters agreed to lease the Long Center site in 1998. The timing could not have been worse for arts fund-raisers. After an initial burst of enthusiasm – and a $20 million kick-off donation by Joe and Teresa Long – the tech bubble burst. The three years that followed were tough, said corporate council chair Earl Maxwell. For most people, the slowing of donations meant the center dropped off the radar for most Austin residents.

It didn’t help that the center was without a director for about nine months. With the hiring of Redd – and a recovering economy — fund-raising got back on track, Maxwell said. Construction of the facility is now underway, too, giving those who drive past the corner of Riverside and South First Street tangible proof of the fund-raising success.

The goal in February, when the breakfasts began, was to raise $25 million this year, Maxwell said. At this point, the group is $3 million shy of its 2005 fund-raising goal.

“We’re within single-digit range (of our fund-raising goal) for the first time in years,” Maxwell told the audience at the breakfast. “We will get there by the end of the year.”

Fundraisers need a total of $9 million to reach the magic $77 million. Spokesman Howard Falkenberg said $10 million of that total would be set aside in an endowment to fund the ongoing operation of the facility. The Long Center is scheduled to open for its first performances in the spring of 2008. It initially will include two performance venues – the 2,400-seat Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Hall and the Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theatre, which will seat up to 240 patrons.

©2005 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Returning this week . . . It will be a busy week for planners in the city's Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department, with cases before the Planning Commission Tuesday, the Environmental Board Wednesday–rescheduled from last week–and much to argue about on Thursday. Among those items that will return to Council are the second and third readings of an ordinance to annex the much-contested Lowe's at Brodie Lane. The Champion sisters, their attorney Michael Whellan and their opponents will also return for the second and third readings of their zoning cases. It was reported elsewhere that these cases would not return until January, and there's a reason to think that at least one of them will return next month. That's because the Champions face the burden of a valid petition on one tract, requiring six members of the Council to vote in favor of their request. Since the previous vote was 4-2, that seems unlikely . . . Meetings . . . The Historic Preservation Task Force meets at 5:30pm in room 240 at One Texas Center . . . The Board of Adjustment/Sign Review Board meets at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall . . . The Parks and Recreation Navigation Board Committee meets at noon at the PASD Headquarters, 200 South Lamar. . . . The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board meets at 6pm at the Thompson Conference Center at UT. . The Austin City Council and the Austin Independent School District meet Tuesday in a joint session at 11:30am at AISD Headquarters, 1111 West Sixth St. . . . Flu shots . . . A flu shot clinic has been scheduled for Tuesday after winter weather forced the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department to cancel a clinic scheduled for last Thursday. The clinic will operate from 9am until 1pm at the Delco Center located at 4601 Pecan Brook Dr. Flu shots will be available for all Travis County residents nine-years-old and older, regardless of health status. Call 3-1-1 for more information. … Campaign kickoff . . . House District 47 candidate Valinda Bolton plans a campaign kickoff party Thursday night at the Y Bar and Grill, 7720 SH 71 West. Bolton is running in the Democratic primary to fill the seat that will be vacated when Republican incumbent Rep. Terry Keel steps down to run for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Her primary opponent is Jason Earle.

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