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RV rental business comes back to ZAP for second vote

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

The Zoning and Platting Commission landed on the recommendation of a private restrictive covenant for a non-conforming RV rental business on Interstate 35 at last week’s meeting, ending a case that has now had two votes at ZAP.


This case, which involves American Adventure RV Rentals in far North Austin, bounced from ZAP to Council and then back to ZAP with further clarification. At this week’s ZAP meeting, agent Shaw Hamilton presented information to ZAP that the bad actor cited in recent activity on the site was not the current owner and offered these limitations: no pawn shops; no 24-hour uses; and no expansion of the current automobile uses on site.


Hamilton admitted he did not have full neighborhood concurrence on the proposed zoning change from GR-CO to GR. The issue was how to split a subcategory – automobile uses – to allow for RV rentals and a dent repair business but not accommodate any type of broader automobile repair category. 


The site was, at one time, a Shell gas station and car wash near the intersection of I-35 and State Highway 45 North. And while the gas station had been a Pennzoil lube station at one time, Planner Sherri Sirwaitis said automobile repair was illegal on the site then, and continues to be an illegal use of the site new.


The “GR” zoning would square up the property as conforming. In its vote on Dec. 15, ZAP stripped out a large number of uses under the “GR” category, including automobile-related uses that would encompass the current businesses on site.


Kathy Mandell, who represented the Neighborhood Association of Northwest Williamson County, said the current users were acceptable, but the neighborhood association did not want many other uses associated with auto repairs.


“We don’t want those things that are typically associated with auto repair places,” Mandell said of objections to the zoning change. “We don’t want wire fences with razor wire, a lot of vehicles store on site and the use of chemicals. Having something like that is not something appealing to have at the entrance to your neighborhood community and not appealing sitting next to a school.”


After discussion as to whether the GR could be structured with the automobile category in or out, Chair Betty Baker suggested leaving the automobile category on the table and the use of a private restrictive covenant between the neighborhood and site owner. The automobile category could not be split. Baker warned the neighborhood that such an agreement would not include the city as a party and would require the neighborhood taking the owner to court, at its own expense, if a possible infraction in zoning occurs.


Council wants to see the case back on Jan. 28. Baker strongly suggested that the restrictive covenant be signed, filed and recorded before a second reading on the property’s zoning change at City Council. The restrictive covenant, at the discretion of the parties, could limit automobile uses to RV rentals and on-site auto repairs to ones that do not involve the disposal of oil or chemicals.


Two commissioners – Patricia Seeger and Donna Tiemann – still opposed the restrictive covenant option. Tiemann said she was not convinced that automobile uses should be allowed in a sensitive watershed and so close to a school.


In a back-and-forth, Baker said that the Environmental Board did not have questions with it, and the site did not encroach on the flood plain. Tiemann said the site still sat on the Lake Creek tributary. Baker countered that the private restrictive covenant could prohibit the use of particular chemicals.


The final vote was 5-2, with Tiemann and Seeger voting against the motion.

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