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Council set to consider changes proposed for Terrace PUD

Thursday, December 18, 2008 by Mark Richardson

Attorney Richard Suttle gets another chance to work his zoning magic today, as his clients seek to upgrade the decades-old Terrace Planned Unit Development in order to add three new buildings. Developers of the PUD, originated in 1985, are asking to make changes to its plans and amend a public restrictive covenant in order to donate 39.4 acres of the 109.2 acres as a conservation easement.


The PUD is located near the intersection of Loop 360 and MoPac South in an area that sits on the edge of Barton Creek. Developer Roger Arend proposes removing two buildings from the current plan and replacing them with three smaller structures. The Hill Country Conservancy would manage the 39-acre conservation easement.


“We’re asking for your recommendation to allow us to amend the site plan attached to an older PUD ordinance,” Suttle said to the Planning Commission last week. “But for a slight difference of opinion with the staff, this case could have been presented to you on consent. It is supported by the neighborhood and was recommended by the Environmental Board. We’ve got everyone on board except the staff, and their difference is ever so slight.”


Sue Welch with the Watershed Protection and Development Review Department said they had a concern over the proposed height of two of the buildings because of the Hill Country Roadway Ordinance. While changing the PUD from four buildings to three, the developer is seeking to increase the height of one building to 100 feet and two buildings to 120 feet.


“Under current code, the allowable height was 53 feet. The PUD allowed 60 feet,” Welch said. “We are recommending that building four go up and building three go down. Building three is on a very steep slope. Building four is further back, which will reduce the visual impact.”


Suttle said there is a “slight difference” between what the staff and the developer want in the two buildings. He said they are dropping one building completely from the plan and eliminating restaurant and retail uses to limit traffic.


“They would rather see building four be 120 feet and building three be 100 feet,” Suttle said. “I cannot and will not agree and the applicant will not agree to that, because the neighborhood spent a year walking every inch of the trail, the creek, the neighborhoods, and they came up with those heights and we’re sticking with what they came up with. We’re asking for your recommendation to approve the amendment to the site plan.”


Suttle added that his client is anxious to complete the PUD revision before the end of the year.


“We’re trying to get this done by year-end because part of the trades that we have is that if we can do the donation by year-end, there is a potential tax benefit to us,” he said. “So that is why we’re anxious to get it done by year-end. That is what the neighborhoods want, because they know in perpetuity that it will never be developed.”


Nan Clayton with the Barton Hills Neighborhood Association said they were extremely happy with how the developers worked with them to ensure that the plans fit what the neighborhood wanted.


“The developer was very good about coming in and showing what was proposed and being open to suggestions from the neighborhood group. There were also at least seven sit-down meetings. The list of concerns there is the agreement between the developer, the partnership, and Barton Hills,” she said. “The neighborhood members have walked the site and noticed the sensitivity of the developer to native plants and species. We have also been sensitive to keeping the environmental groups involved. We would like to request this commission to approve the applicant’s request.”


Planning Commissioners recommended the PUD changes on an 8-0 vote.

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