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ZAP wants more neighborhood input before rezoning Manchaca tract

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

The Zoning and Platting Commission has sent attorney Nikelle Meade back to negotiate with homeowners in the Olympia Park neighborhood before considering a zoning change on a two-acre retail property on South Manchaca.


The current state of Manchaca through the neighborhood – one lane in each direction – ended up being the sticking point for the neighbors. Meade asked that the property be rezoned from interim rural residential to community commercial with a conditional overlay, or GR-CO. The property would use neighborhood commercial, or LR, uses, with the additional GR uses of indoor theater.


Kevin Blanford, one of the neighbors, gathered 40 signatures on Sunday, opposing a commercial property at the entrance of Olympia Park. Blanford said turning onto the two-lane road was “a bit of an Evil Knievel trick.” Adding more traffic and congestion through the neighborhood would be a burden.


“Why do we need another one?” Blanford asked about the development. “If this goes, and they make it commercial, and then no one rents it, then it just becomes another empty building sitting at the entrance of my neighborhood.”


Meade, a partner with Brown McCarroll LLP, said she had been unsuccessful in reaching the homeowners association before the zoning case made it to ZAP, although she had taken some questions from individual homeowners. Olympia Park, currently in its final phase of completion, has about 800 homes.


Commissioners asked Meade whether she would be willing to drop some of the conditional uses on the property. Commissioner Patricia Seeger asked about the theater and indoor entertainment use. Commissioner Donna Tiemann wanted to know if the convenience store use was necessary on the property. Commissioner Sandy Baldridge asked what type of indoor entertainment the GR might include.


“At 2,000 trips per day, it has to be either a small dance studio or a small community theater,” Meade said. “We would be limited in size on both of those uses, given the size of our tract and the parking. That really limits what uses are a possibility on the site.”


Planner Wendy Rhoades said the 2,000-trip limit each day would limit the size of the particular use. For instance, a 2,000-trip limit could be tied to a 14,900-square-foot retail space, a 4,000-square-foot fast food place or a 2,700-square-foot convenience store and gas station.


If the developer needs a larger footprint, then a new traffic impact analysis is required and a zoning change must be submitted, Rhoades said.


Meade did point out that section of Manchaca Road, which has been a bottleneck for traffic in southwest Travis County, was being widened. Currently two lanes, the road will be five lanes, which would be two lanes in each direction and a turn lane when construction is completed. Asked what might be preferred, Tom Moody of DR Horton, who currently serves as the president of the Olympia Park Homeowners Association, said the property would be ideal for some type of neighborhood retail use, such as a dry cleaners.


Meade said the uses could not be pared down that night because the owner was out of town. Seeger moved to continue the case to Oct. 19, to allow Meade the chance to allay the neighborhood’s fears of what might go on the property.


“I think you can work out something,” said Chair Betty Baker. “You look at the LR. You look at some of the GR uses that look reasonable. It’s not reasonable to assume the property is going to remain undeveloped.”

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