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Design Commission seeks involvement in PUD review process

Friday, October 30, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

The Design Commission continues its push to be involved in the review of Planned Unit Developments, both along Lady Bird Lake and outside downtown.

This would be a new role for the commission, one that would not only utilize the professional qualifications of commission members but also focus on specific downtown design and compatibility standards applied beyond downtown.

Chair Bart Whatley drafted a letter approved by Design Commission last week that touted the advantages of the commission’s involvement in the PUD approval.

“Mueller, The Triangle, The Domain, the Downtown Plan, and the South Shore PUD are just a few of the examples of development and planning efforts that have gone beyond simple land use zoning and are focusing discussion on design,” Whatley wrote in a commission-approved letter. “With good urban design, Austin can grow and add density in ways that add vitality and livability.”

In a way, the Design Commission would like to fit its input underneath the environmental review of a PUD. In a brief discussion at last week’s meeting, members of the commission argued the commission’s efforts would add to sustainability and, thus, be under the environmental umbrella.

Though Design Commission review of PUDs is not currently required, past PUD applicants have volunteered projects to the Commission for feedback that would enrich the project. In order for the Design Commission to offer meaningful guidance on proposed PUDs, a schematic site plan would be required,” Whatley wrote. “We note that the recent South Shore PUD volunteered a schematic site plan to help people recognize its urban design elements.”

 

The commission would prefer to see Design Commission review added as a basic step of the PUD process. That decision would be up to Council.

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