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Divided Council rejects upzoning for Southeast Austin neighborhood

Friday, April 3, 2009 by Steven Pickering

A divided Austin City Council on Thursday rejected a request for more density in a southeast Austin neighborhood that already has a high number of apartments. The owners of several lots in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Parker Lane near Oltorf had originally requested a zoning change from SF-3 to MF-3, but went to the Council with a request of SF-6 after both the Planning Commission and city staff recommended a zoning category which would allow condo development instead of apartments.


Some existing residents of the neighborhood expressed concerns to the Planning Commission last year about too many apartments or condos in the area (see In Fact Daily, December 15, 2008), and that concern resonated with several members of the Council. The Council passed the request for SF-6 on first reading last month on a vote of 5-2. Neighbors had obtained a valid petition against any zoning higher than SF-3, which would have required at least six members of the Council to approve the request for SF-6 on final reading.


Council Member Brewster McCracken supported the applicant’s request, noting that “the properties on either side actually have more intense zoning than the staff recommendation.” He proposed passing the change to SF-6 on second reading, which could have been done with a simple majority, leaving the vote on third reading for a future meeting.


But Council Members Lee Leffingwell and Laura Morrison held firm in their opposition. Both had opposed the request on first reading in March. Leffingwell offered a substitute motion for an outright denial, which passed on a vote of 4-3. Council Members Randi Shade and Mike Martinez joined in the vote to reject the more intense zoning.


Council Members McCracken, Sheryl Cole, and Mayor Will Wynn were on the losing end of that vote. The Council then unanimously voted to reject a proposed change to the future land-use map associated with the East Riverside-Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Plan that was associated with the zoning case.

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