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Council says waterfront overlay limits won’t apply to PUDs
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 by Austin Monitor
Council has rejected an attempt to subject PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) along
The waterfront overlay will still limit the height of most buildings. And a new advisory board would review PUDs on their way to Council. But the final decision, and responsibility, to set the height of those PUDs will come from the Council, rather than being shut out completely, as some had hoped.
Council Member Randi Shade asked repeated questions to clarify the language of the ordinance. She pointed to two sections in the ordinance that seemed to subject PUDs to height restrictions.
“If you were to read this, it seems like this would actually be accomplishing what we voted on a couple of times,” noted Shade.
Assistant City Attorney Brent Lloyd, responding to Shade’s comments, noted that one section that Shade referenced, Part 22, was limited to design standards. In the case where a conflict existed between waterfront overlay and design standards, the waterfront overlay would trump.
The second section Shade referenced, Section 25, was developed at the request of Council after the last hearing, Lloyd said. The section laid out that the PUD would follow a particular procedural process – for instance – going before the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board – but that it would trump the waterfront overlay.
“The larger question of whether or not, in adopting a PUD, Council would be able to supersede the height requirement or any other requirement of the waterfront overlay,” Lloyd said. “That is a larger legal question. I think that the PUD ordinance includes broad language giving Council legislative authority, as part of the PUD process, to set the requirements that will apply to that property.”
Shade had to do some additional prompting, but the meaning did become clear: Lloyd said the language of the waterfront overlay ordinance was not strong enough to prevent Council from overriding it.
“This language (in the waterfront overlay) alone would not be enough, probably, to prevent the Council from doing that,” Lloyd said. “It’s clearly at your discretion.”
Council Member Mike Martinez, who made the motion for approval on third reading, said it was his clear intention that the Council reserve its power for negotiating over the specifics of a PUD. Council did not give up those rights, although it was committed to following a predictable uniform review process.
As Jeff Jack of
“I think what you’re hearing from various points of view all over the city is that the waterfront is very sacred to our community, and we hope that this action tonight will take us one step closer to reinstating the protections that the community developed in the ’80s that are still valid today,” Jack said to Council in his speech. “It will give us a city with a really wonderful waterfront, protected for future generations and the scenic vistas, the open spaces, will be preserved and make our community a really great
Some other points were clarified during the discussion:
· All PUDs would go to the Planning Commission for review. NPZD Director Greg Guernsey explained that the PUD was a base zoning district with no particular height associated with it. On the other hand, a developer with a PUD case would outline a desired height. Each PUD application would go to the Planning Commission, which would make a recommendation. Sometimes the commission and the developer might not agree on a recommended height – the developer might want 200 feet and the Planning Commission would want 96 – but because the commission’s recommendation would not be an outright approval or disapproval, it would not trigger a super-majority vote.
· Amendments would not necessarily trigger additional review for a PUD. Just because an amendment is offered on a PUD, it’s still the same PUD, as long as the amendment is not substantial. Substantial amendments would go through a fuller review process and be compared to the waterfront overlay. Minor amendments can be approved administratively on a particular PUD, without further review.
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