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ZAP OKs zoning change for residential property long used for business

Thursday, September 9, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

The Zoning and Platting Commission granted a zoning change for Amy Rogans’ residential property in far South Austin earlier this week, acknowledging that the commercial nature of the street made the zoning change hard to deny.


Even Commissioner Patricia Seeger, typically the staunchest advocate for neighborhood rights, said she had a difficult time denying a GR-CO rezoning of a portion of the SF-2 property after driving down Cullen Lane.


“This is a commercial street,” Seeger said simply, despite the protests of the one residential subdivision in the area, the Park Ridge Neighborhood Association.


The area in question, planner Wendy Rhoades told the commissioners on Tuesday night, was zoned SF-2 when the property was annexed into the city in 1984. But properties, including the one at 8616 Cullen Lane, have been used for commercial purposes for years. On the street in question, the preferred businesses are auto sales, auto auctions, auto repairs, and auto upholstery businesses.


Neighbors from Park Ridge, however, protested the use of a rural road for business uses and provided a list of additional requested prohibitions. Chair Betty Baker, the one-time city zoning employee, could not agree.


“This is a substandard street, two lanes, with bar ditches on either side, in an area that is more rural than urban,” Baker noted. “Everything along there, other than the Park Ridge subdivision, is non-residential. I think it’s unfair if we add all of these uses that we asked to be added.”


Baker went ahead and asked what Rogans’ plans were for the balance of the tract. Rogans said she lived on it. Baker countered that the question concerned the potential future use of the land, which Rogans said was fenced. Rogans, who has lived on the property since 1998 and uses the property’s frontage to sell automobiles, said she planned to die there.


“Maybe we ought to add funeral home uses,” Baker quipped.

Rhoades did assure the commission that the zoning change, once approved, would be followed by a site plan and designated parking requirements. If the adjacent residential-use property, which remains un-subdivided, were used, it would require some additional dispensations from the city.


A dozen years after she began using the property for a business, Rogans was asking ZAP for forgiveness. Seeger asked why she had waited so long. Rogans said she had no idea that she needed a zoning change, given that many of her neighbors run businesses out of their homes. The owner before her, she said, had used the front of the property to run an auto-repair shop.


ZAP did tweak the conditions, which prohibited car rental and car repair, among other things. Baker inserted community as an allowable use. Extermination services and use of the property for bail bonds businesses came out.


The zoning change passed unanimously. Rhoades said the Cullen Lane case would be up for final approval at Council on Sept. 23.

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