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ZAP discusses new zoning designation

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 by Kimberly Reeves

The Zoning and Platting Commission re-opened a case last night that addressed one of those rare agenda scenarios: Why not consider creating, or amending, a zoning category when a new use seems appropriate?


Out to Lunch sells hummus, and mass-producing hummus requires something more than a typical restaurant kitchen. The owner’s intention, discussed in last night’s case, is to take the back 11,000 square feet of a former Albertson’s grocery store on Manchaca Road at Slaughter Lane and create a small-scale production facility.


Accommodating that amount of space for food production, however, would push the property outside of its current GR (general retail) zoning and into the realm of the more challenging LI, or light industrial, category. GR limits food production space to no more than 5,000 square feet.


Out to Lunch’s zoning change was shelved in early December by ZAP and re-opened last night. Planner Wendy Rhoades said she had found only two cases that had used a zoning change to create a production facility. In both cases, the zoning change was to LI.


Despite what seemed to be a discordant zoning category change, commissioners saw the usefulness of turning a former grocery store space into a production facility for a small-scale food processing use.


“Under GR, the food prep use is limited to 5,000 square feet,” Rhoades said. “The applicant’s size is 11,000 square feet, confined to the back of a vacant grocery store.”


Commissioner Gregory Bourgeois, however, rhapsodized that the new use “fit like a glove.” And his colleagues appeared to agree with his assessment.


The final motion was to approve the LI use, with a restrictive covenant to roll back the industrial use if a new zoning use was created under a less intensive use-zoning category. At the same time, commissioners initiated work on an ordinance that would consider exceptions such as Out to Lunch, possibly extending space limitations for food preparation to as large as 15,000 square feet under GR.


ZAP agreed to rely on staff recommendations for how large the food-preparation space restriction should be. The vote was unanimous, with Chair Betty Baker absent with the flu.

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