About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
Most Popular Stories
Discover News By District
Debate over West Campus home could spur ordinance changes
A battle over a West Campus construction project has exposed lingering issues in city staff’s interpretation of rules meant to govern home remodeling. The conflict, which pits developer Mitch Ely against the Original West University Neighborhood Association, seems destined for an eventual Council debate — and perhaps a court date.
All this action comes as the Council seems set for a summer hearing on a long-delayed ordinance that would encode a specific definition of the term “remodel.” As it stands, city staff mandates only that one original wall and the foundation of a house must remain for work to be called remodeling. That definition is in the form of a written direction and is not formally a part of the City of
Greg Guernsey, director of the city’s Planning and Development Review Department, told In Fact Daily that there has been “a great debate about what a remodel is within the city.” In his view, the pending ordinance will “probably help settle (those) issues.”
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, for one, seems ready for a change. At Thursday’s Council Meeting, he told
“What,” he then asked, “is the status of our revision of the remodeling ordinance?”
Leffingwell’s question was prompted by the Citizens’ Communication testimony of Nuria Zaragoza, president of the Original West University Neighborhood Association and a member of the Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee (CANPAC). She told Council members about a so-dubbed remodel on
“This is not a remodel, not as measured by logic, and not according to the criteria that city staff have consistently used over the last three years,” she added.
She echoed those sentiments in an interview later. “Someone will always be able to run circles around what’s written,”
Council Member Laura Morrison, whose office has been following the case since this fall, told In Fact Daily that the new ordinance might indeed not be enough to solve the concerns of Zaragosa and her neighbors. “This is a complicated case,” she said. “There’s probably more to it than just remodeling.”
In terms of that opinion, at least,
He noted that the new regulations could be “so strict that it would make remodels almost impossible.”
As for the
Still, he said, his group had been told from “day one” that the project might provoke some sort of action from the city.
For now, at least,
Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?