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Council votes to exclude tract from Boggy Creek VMU overlay

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 by Josh Rosenblatt

The lengthy story of the Upper Boggy Creek Neighborhood Plan got another chapter Thursday when City Council voted, just barely, to amend the plan’s vertical mixed use conditional overlay. Moving against the wishes of the neighborhood’s contact team, Council voted 4-3, on second reading, in favor of excluding 4020 Airport Boulevard (tract 3) from the VMU conditional overlay.


The Upper Boggy Creek Neighborhood Planning Area, an element of the Austin Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan, encompasses a large swath of property bounded by I-35, 26th Street, and Comal Street to the west; Airport Boulevard to the north and east; and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Cedar Boulevard, Rogers Boulevard, Walnut Boulevard, and Manor Road to the south.


On March 11, Council approved all three readings of an ordinance covering the majority of the VMU properties within the area while approving on first reading an ordinance to exclude tracts 3, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, and 22 from the VMU overlay district. On May 13 Council approved second and third readings of an ordinance to exclude all of those tracts from the overlay district except tract 3, which it postponed action on at staff’s request


On Thursday, staff brought a resolution to Council dealing just with the possible exclusion of tract 3. Planning and Development Review Assistant Director George Adams told Council members that both the Upper Boggy Creek Neighborhood Planning contact team and the Planning Commission had recommended to apply all VMU-related standards, including dimensional standards, parking reduction, and additional uses and office districts, to tract 3.


In addition, the owner of tract 3 had filed a valid petition in opposition to excluding the property from the VMU overlay district.


Regardless, Council Member Laura Morrison made a motion early in the discussion to exclude tract 3 from the VMU conditional overlay, citing earlier agreements in the neighborhood concerning development.


“As I recall, this is a case where several years ago the property was rezoned to office, and there was discussion with the neighbors at that time,” she said. “The way that they could agree to it would be if there was assurance that there wouldn’t be any residential on the property, which was very important to them, so a restrictive covenant was put on the property and there can be no residential on it.


“So they continue to be in opposition to residential, and I think in fairness to those folks who supported the office zoning in the first place, based on that foundation that it’s important that we stick with what the agreement that was made with the residents.”


But for Council Member Chris Riley, those older agreements were less important than the fact that the neighborhood contact team had thrown their support behind keeping tract 3 in the conditional overlay. According to Adams, the contact team is the body responsible for putting together the recommendations for the neighborhood concerning the VMU. It speaks for the neighborhood in such cases.


That was enough for Riley. “The neighborhood plan contact team supports including this tract within the VMU overlay, and I would support the neighborhood on that, so I’m not going to support the motion,” Riley said.


In the end, the motion passed on a vote of 4-3, with Council Members Riley, Randi Shade and Mike Martinez voting against.

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