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ZAP subcommittee to study Goodnight PUD

Wednesday, February 1, 2006 by

The planned Goodnight Ranch subdivision is so large – some 700 acres off Slaughter Lane between Nuckols Crossing and Old Lockhart Highway – that Developer Terry Mitchell describes it as “Mueller, without the commercial development.”

This is a massive master-planned development of more than 3,500 dwelling units, a development that will 10 and 20 years in unfolding, Mitchell told the Zoning and Platting Commission last night. The site is so large that Momark has incorporated two elementary school sites and a fire station into the plans, as well as more than 65 acres of private open space. As Vice Chair Joseph Martinez pointed out, it rivals Robinson Ranch and Wild Horse Ranch in terms of size.

Momark is requesting a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, for more flexibility on the site. Goodnight Ranch is intended to be a mixed-use project with a range of residential, retail and civic uses. Housing will range from single-family homes to row houses, mansion homes, apartments and buildings with a residential and non-residential mix. Mitchell told ZAP that he anticipates price points between $100,000 and the low $200,000s on residential units.

In addition to the residential development, Momark has planned for neighborhood commercial, retail and office uses to account for up to another 260,000-square feet of space. Another 15,000 square feet is dedicated to various civic uses.

Chair Betty Baker wasted no time in appointing a subcommittee to review Goodnight Ranch PUD request. Commissioner Keith Jackson will chair the group, which will take up to three months to review the plans.

SMART housing will play a heavy role in the Goodnight Ranch development. Stuart Hersh told ZAP last night that the proposed mix of housing will be 40 percent of the units targeted at lower income and 60 percent market-rate housing.

The area’s transportation network will require a public-private partnership. Momark is one of the developers that have agreed to work with Travis County to share the cost of the construction of the transportation network. In this case, that’s Slaughter Lane. Momark has agreed to pick up half the construction cost of the Slaughter extension; and

Goodnight Ranch is expected to be a compact development, one that Mitchell described as compatible with the Envision Central Texas goals for urban development. While the land is undeveloped, it is still only 8 miles from downtown, Mitchell said. To create that compact development will require code modifications to the PUD on building setbacks; compatibility standards; street design and driveway access; and even parking standards and signage.

The Goodnight Ranch subcommittee will be five members of ZAP, which will constitute a quorum of the commission and require the posting of the meetings. Other members of the subcommittee include Stephanie Hale, Clarke Hammond, Joseph Martinez and Teresa Rabago. Jackson said he intended to work through the issues as quickly as possible.

Panel working on development pact with AISD

Concern over impervious cover limits in a proposed amendment to the Land Development Standards Agreement between the city and the Austin Independent School District is driving the city’s Environmental Board to take a hard look at the agreement.

A subcommittee of the board met Monday with representatives from AISD, city staff, and interested outside parties including the SOS Alliance, and will make a recommendation to the full board tonight on the matter. The Planning Commission last week postponed action on the amendment until it meets on February 15, saying it would wait until the Environmental Board made its recommendation. (See In Fact Daily, Jan 25, 2006)

The subcommittee is chaired by Board Member Mary Gay Maxwell and includes Board Members John Dupnik and Rodney Ahart. Several members at the board’s last meeting indicated they had concerns that the amount of impervious covered allowed on AISD campuses in the southwest part of the district were significantly higher than those currently allowed under the city’s SOS ordinance. They were also concerned about a lack of time to review the amendment before they were expected to recommend it. (See In Fact Daily, Jan. 24, 2006). Currently, the city has an agreement with AISD allowing 25 percent impervious cover—10 percent more than allowed under SOS.

Also attending the subcommittee meeting was AISD’s Dan Robertson, Pat Murphy with the City’s Watershed Protection and Development Review, and Brad Rockwell of the SOS Alliance. Murphy, with help from Robertson and Rockwell, gave the panel a detailed history of the agreement, which dates back to 1994 and outlines building standards for schools and other structures.

A 1996 amendment—following development agreements with Stratus Properties among others—added a fourth school to the list that may exceed 25 percent impervious cover in the Barton Springs Zone.

A second attempt to amend the agreement in 1999 was scuttled by a last-minute change to agreement by then-Council Member Daryl Slusher, who advocated cutting the amount of impervious cover allowed from 25 percent down to 20 percent. AISD refused to approve that amendment.

Changes in the proposed amendment would apply to four AISD properties: Kiker Elementary, and sites for a proposed new Southwest Elementary, Southwest Middle School and Bear Lake Elementary.

Maxwell is optimistic that a workable agreement can be reached.

“This is a really different plan that what has been dealt with in the past,” she said. “I think that now, the community can get that this is a very different animal than what was proposed earlier. In the past there was a different attitude, but now I think the public has a better understanding of what impervious cover means and how important it is in development over the aquifer.”

No recommendations came from the Monday meeting. Maxwell said the subcommittee might meet once more before tonight’s full board meeting, either in person or by email or telephone, to craft a recommendation.

The Environmental Board could decide to study the matter further, delaying its vote on the matter until its February 14 meeting. The amendment is scheduled to go before the City Council on February 16.

©2006 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

APA endorsements . . . The Austin Police Association met with City Council candidates yesterday and plans to make an endorsement announcement today. Word is the group has decided on a dual endorsement for Mayor– Will Wynn and Danny Thomas. The group is also endorsing Sheryl Cole in Place 6 and Mike Martinez in Place 2 . . . Betty’s day . . . Council Member Betty Dunkerley interrupted Tuesday night’s Zoning and Platting Commission to wish Betty Baker—one Betty June to another and one septuagenarian to another—a happy birthday. Betty D. thanked Betty B. for all the work she has done for the city. Baker said–in case anyone thought that she had mellowed–that she would get even . . . Meetings . . . The Design Commission’s Urban Open Space Subcommittee meets at 7:45am at Schlotzsky's Deli, 218 South Lamar Blvd. . . . The Environmental Board meets at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall . . . The Water and Wastewater Commission meets at 6pm in room 104 at Waller Creek Plaza . . . A special called meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission begins at 7pm in room 325 at One Texas Center. . . . Sweetwater still on hold . . . Despite a number of hours of discussion and some additional concessions from the developer, Travis County Commissioners still were unable to resolve the issues surrounding the phasing agreement of the Sweetwater Ranch subdivision on SH 71. The item will be back on the agenda in another couple of weeks . . . EOC debate continues . . . The contentious debate over Williamson County’s plan to build a countywide Emergency Operations Center will move into the public arena today. A public meeting to discuss the proposal is set for 9am in the training room of the Williamson County Maintenance Facility. County Commissioners continue to be split over the idea, but a proposal to sell $48 million in bonds and use up to $20 million of the proceeds to construct the facility was approved by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Lisa Birkman and Tom McDaniel continue to oppose the project, saying it has not been properly planned . . . Cole campaign kickoff . . . Sheryl Cole officially begins her campaign for Place 6 on the Austin City Council tonight. She’s holding a party at the Victory Grill 1104 East 11th Street at 5:30pm. The attorney with the firm of Cole and Powell has raised more than $13,000 so far for her campaign . . . Fire cadet class . . . The EEOC may be close to an agreement with the City of Austin on testing procedures for candidates to become Austin firefighters. AFD’s last cadet class was put on hold last year because of concerns that one of the physical tests was unfair to female candidates (see In Fact Daily, August 2, 2005). But AFD has set up a new web site for applicants ( http://www.afdrecruiting.com) and will accept applications between February 13 and February 24. The department will administer a written exam to would-be cadets on March 25 . . . Revitalizing downtown . . . Members of the Downtown Austin Alliance heard from author Roberta Gratz at their luncheon Tuesday on the importance of preserving historic buildings downtown. Gratz said other cities had tried demolishing historic structures to make way for new self-contained developments such as a stadium or shopping mall, but those efforts usually failed to revitalize the downtown area. Instead, she said Austin should focus on reusing historic structures for a mixture of residential and retail projects and make sure those projects are pedestrian-friendly . . . Call for entries . . . Envision Central Texas is looking for nominations for its 2006 Community Stewardship Awards. The program was created to recognize and honor the innovative people, projects and processes that are addressing the growth challenges facing the region. Local non-profit and community organizations, businesses, cities, counties, regional planning authorities, developers, builders, designers, media, neighborhood groups and others in the five-county Central Texas region are invited to submit online applications for the Envision Central Texas 2006 Community Stewardship Awards. The deadline is noon on March 15. For more information, go to http://www.envisioncentraltexas.org . . . Sheriff’s Academy . . . The Travis County Sheriff's Office plans its next installment of the Sheriff's Citizens' Academy. Classes begin on February 14 and the department is currently accepting applications. Sheriff Greg Hamilton says this class is the best way to learn about the Sheriff's Office, get involved with the community, discover what it takes to be a sheriff's deputy; and experience what goes on behind the badge. The class is includes 13, three-hour sessions from 6:45 to 10pm on Tuesday evenings. For an application contact Senior Deputy Mary Rodriguez, at 854-9770 or email her at mary.rodriguez@co.travis.tx.us. Taking this class does not certify participants as Texas Peace Officers.

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