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Small West Austin property rezoned despite neighbors’ concerns

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 by Kimberly Reeves

Council agreed to rezone a remnant property at a key West Austin intersection in favor of a staff recommendation at last week’s meeting, despite community concern that the zoning category was too intensive.


The property at the intersection of FM 2222 and City Park Road was tiny, and it sat adjacent to a larger site that might eventually be redeveloped. The most logical explanation for the decision is that the remnant of property at 6320 City Park Road was so small that few considered the potentially dangerous problems concerning the neighborhood to be likely. The parcel is limited, as attorney Terry Irion explained, having already been cut at least twice by road projects, one in each direction, in recent years.


Irion said the lot was 3,572 square feet with its own small building on it, a residence that was being used for office purpose. Last week’s zoning case was simply to bring existing uses on the annexed property into compliance.


“There is no development plan that is intended by the applicant,” Irion told Council. ”What brought us to this point was a change from one type of office use to another type of office use. The city believed that required a new certificate of occupancy, and, of course, we can’t get that without conforming zoning.”


The area in question was annexed into the city limits in 2004. Irion noted the remnant property could be, but wasn’t yet, attached to its 13-acre neighboring tract. It would be taking on that neighboring zoning designation of its neighbor if the full tract were eventually redeveloped. This would give the sliver of land a chance to take up the zoning designation of LR.


Neighboring tract owners, however, had taken no such action. So Carole Torgrimson suggested the tract be designated as the less intensive GO.


“While it’s true the adjacent property is zoned LR, to the lower right there is a much larger parcel that is GO. GO, as you can see, is a big chunk to the north,” Torgrimson said of potential zoning. “We worry because that tract has so many challenges, especially because the driveway is less than 50 feet from the intersection. It’s a very challenging intersection.”


Compromises at the Zoning and Platting Commission gave the site LR-CO zoning, with trips per day limited to 500. The original proposal from the developer had been 2,000 trips per day from potential clients and tenants.


Neighborhood residents advocated for GO, calling it a category that would allow less intensive uses on the land.


“I think I understand the evil (Torgrimson) is trying to prevent from occurring, but I don’t think her recommendation is going to accomplish that,” said Irion in rebuttal. “This property is too small to develop by itself. With the Hill Country roadway ordinance, and the buffers off the road, we don’t have any road left.”


Council’s amendment passed unanimously. Council Member Bill Spelman added a provision to prohibit any new drive-through establishments.

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