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Developer, neighbors compromise on subdivision zoning

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 by

After spending the past month working with surrounding homeowners, the developers of the proposed Olympic Heights West subdivision at the end of Yandall Drive returned to the Zoning and Platting Commission last week with a consensus on the number of homes in the subdivision, set-backs, and the number of trips per day associated with the property. Attorney Jim Nias told the Commission that instead of zoning the entire 27-acre tract SF-4A, the developers were instead requesting that 12.5 acres be zoned SF-2 with the remaining 14.5 acres zoned SF-4A.

The less dense SF-2 area would be located on the outer edges of the tract, transitioning to the higher-density SF-4A zoning. "Overall, this is about three units per acre. It’s even less dense than the subdivisions along our western boundary," said Nias. "We hope to keep the impervious cover at 25 to 30 percent, much less than code. It allows us to maintain significant set-back areas to the north."

That set-back, along with a limit of 1,500 trips per day and additional buffer zones, are part of an agreement with the Villages of Shady Hollow Homeowners Association. "We have worked with the developer over the last six months on this development and wanted you to know there’s been a lot of give and take on both sides," said homeowners association President Craig Wojotowizc.

"They’ve addressed the areas of green space between the neighborhoods." Wojotowizc said the only outstanding issue was whether Yandall Drive, which will provide access to the new subdivision, should be extended all they way through the property or be terminated in a cul-de-sac. "We would prefer to have Yandall not opened," he said. "It isn’t that far to where Yandall meets Gatling Gun Lane and we have Baranoff Elementary. So we have a lot of children walking through, and to force a lot of traffic through to Brodie Lane on Yandall…our concern is obviously one of traffic, and safety for the children."

Nias said the developers would agree to that condition if imposed by the commission. But Commissioners were reluctant to address that design issue as part of the zoning change. "I feel it’s a subdivision issue, and would prefer to take that up in the preliminary plan," said Commissioner Melissa Whaley Hawthorne. The Commission voted 6-0 to support the requested zoning change from I-RR to SF-2 and SF-4A without imposing any conditions regarding Yandall Drive.

"I am concerned somewhat about not having connectivity. I understand the neighborhood’s concerned, but school boundaries might change….there is a lot of unknowns that might happen in the future. I’d feel awful if we eventually wound up passing something that made it difficult for school kids to get to their school," said Commissioner Clark Hammond, who also praised the applicant and neighborhood leaders for working together to come up with a proposal agreeable to both sides. "Mr. Nias, good job re-working this subdivision plan," he said. "I think it’s a much better plan for this neighborhood."

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

Red hot debate . . . The debate over red light cameras comes to Austin City Hall this week, as Council Members Jennifer Kim, Mike Martinez and Lee Leffingwell, and have sponsored an item on Thursday’s agenda to have the City Manager come up with a plan for installing cameras at key intersections to catch people running red lights. "We think there’s merit to looking into implementing a plan," said Martinez. "This could improve public safety." Leffingwell said he wants a program that does not invade people’s privacy Expect opponents of the proposal to cite a study done by the Virginia Transportation Research Council ( showing that while cameras do reduce crashes "directly attributable to red light running", there was also a "definite increase in rear-end crashes" at intersections where cameras had been installed. The three Council members have scheduled a press conference for 1:30pm today at City Hall, even though many media outlets took the opportunity to interview the Council about the item yesterday . . . Lottery likely . . . Council Member Mike Martinez would like to put an end to the city’s method of awarding new taxicab franchises via lottery, saying he would prefer to choose the most qualified company instead. But Martinez said he has had little traction with his colleagues, at least insofar as this week’s decision. Council Member Jennifer Kim said Monday that she would prefer to select a company based strictly on which company would provide the best service. The Council is scheduled to select amongst Lone Star Cab Co., Capital City Cab Co. and Longhorn Cab Co. during a drawing this week. All have met the city’s requirements. The Council is also scheduled to approve an additional 20 permits for Austin Cab Co . . . Clements resigns from DANA . . . Andrew Clements has notified the board of the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association of his desire to resign from the organization. DANA Secretary Ted Siff said the board would hold a closed-door meeting tonight to discuss Clements’ replacement and "potential restructuring of the organization and how to replace the funds," lost in a burglary at Clements’ home. The association lost $17,000 during the burglary. When Downtown Planet reported on the loss, Clements took the newspapers, prompting the Downtown Planet to file a police report naming him as the culprit. In an email, Clements told fellow board members he took the newspapers after drinking with some friends and admitted that taking the papers was "an inappropriate action." (See In Fact Daily, July 21, 2006.) . . . Not our error . . . The Texas Freedom Network, which spent $400 to support Proposition 6 in the May election, says it will file a correction of its earlier campaign report. In Fact Daily noted on Monday that the group’s report stated the sum had been spent in opposition to the proposal to allow the city to grant health care benefits to domestic partners of city employees. The proposition won voter approval . . . Choosing new chief . . . The City of Austin has narrowed its search for a firm to assist in finding a new police chief. The finalists are Alliance Resource Consulting, LLC of Long Beach, CA; The PAR Group of Lake Bluff, IL; and Slavin Management Consultants of Norcross, GA. Once the firm is chosen, it will work with stakeholders to develop a profile for candidates. The target date for suggesting choices is December. City management hopes to interview the candidates in January, narrow the selection in February and choose a new chief in April . . . Meetings . . . The Water and Wastewater Commission meets in a special called meeting at 9am in room 104 at the Waller Creek Plaza. On the agenda are two items regarding Water Treatment Plant #4 that are scheduled to go before Council this week . . . The Council’s Audit and Finance Committee meets at 10am in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall . . . Travis County Commissioners meet at 9am at 314 w.11th St. . . . Williamson County Commissioners meet at 9:30am at the County Annex on Inner Loop Drive . . . The Hays County Commissioners meet at 9am at the County Courthouse in San Marcos . . . The Planning Commission meets at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. . . Design Standards keep moving . . . The Design Commission heard its final briefing on the codification of the new Design Standards for the city last night. Commission members suggested several changes in the codified document to be made before the Council hears the item on August 10. The Environmental Board, which postponed a decision on recommending it last week, will take another look at on August 2 . . . Racht reappointed to state panel . . . Gov. Rick Perry has reappointed Dr. Ed Racht of Austin as one of six members of the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, which helps federal, state and local agencies develop and implement an integrated, statewide program for emergency medical services. Dr. Racht is medical director of the Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services System. Racht also won the American Heart Association Paul Ledbetter M.D. Physician Volunteer of the Year Award in 2004. His term will expire Jan. 1, 2012 .

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