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South Congress zoning may face battle at Council

Monday, July 7, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Members of the Zoning and Platting Commission are making a recommendation for new conditions for a tract along South Congress Avenue they hope will help accelerate the transformation of the neighborhood. However, they are concerned their zoning recommendation for 8008 South Congress may not win Council approval, based on a similar recommendation for a nearby tract that was modified when the Council zoned that property last month.


The owner of the site is seeking a change from DR (development reserve) to CS in order to allow auto storage and mini-warehouses to continue while adding new retail construction along South Congress. But instead of the CS zoning requested by the owner, the commission recommended CS-CO, with part of the conditional overlay being no convenience storage or vehicle storage.


“I’m not particularly inclined to change the position that we took earlier,” Chair Betty Baker said. “I know it may be doomed when it gets to Council.” Last month, the Council did not approve similar recommended prohibitions against auto or convenience storage on the tract directly to the south.


The agent for the property told the commission it was the owner’s goal to maintain some vehicle and mini-storage on the back half of the tract while allowing for higher-intensity uses along the front half.


“That is the owner’s intention, to be able to change the landscape of South Congress…so that what you see from the road is professional businesses as opposed to junkyards,” said Bryan Webb. “What you see from South Congress won’t be a storage facility, it will be professional buildings with the storage facility hidden off the main road.” He said the owner intends to develop the area from the road to 200 feet back with commercial or retail uses.


However, Baker said the owner would be able to keep the existing auto storage and mini-warehouses as legal, non-conforming uses even if those uses were prohibited under the new zoning. The commission voted unanimously for a recommendation of CS-CO, with vehicle and convenience storage prohibited as part of the conditional overlay.

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