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Despite concerns, ZAP rezones Volente repair shop for Limited Retail

Thursday, January 26, 2012 by Elizabeth Pagano

Despite some misgivings, members of the Zoning and Platting Commission were able to craft a compromise last week in a rezoning case recommendation for property located on FM 2769 near Volente. The need for rezoning had come as something of a surprise to the property’s owners who said they weren’t aware that the tract was in the city.


The owners were seeking a change from DR to GR, claiming General Retail was a better fit with the property’s historical use. The city annexed the property in 1985, giving it Development Reserve zoning, which is designated a temporary use.


Staff was reluctant to recommend such an intense land use for the property, which is bordered to by undeveloped Balcones Canyonlands Preserve to the north, an LCRA bird habitat area to the south, single-family residences to the east, and a Cypress Creek city park to the southeast. Staff recommended that the tract be zoned Limited Office (LO), with a Conditional Overlay.


The tract is also located in the drinking water protection zone.


In June 2011, the property was red tagged by the city for operating without a Certificate of Occupancy. The owner told the commission that she was unaware that the property had been annexed by the city.


“We are asking for GR to maintain the historical use on this property,” said Carl Conley, of Conley Engineering. Conley explained that a designation of Limited Office would be “useless” in the area. “This property has been operating in a GR mode for the last 30 years. The site is already existing as developed, and has been everything from a cafe to a bar to, right now, it is an antique restoration repair shop.”


Even with such a varied historical use, the request did not sit well with the commission.


“One of the problems this commission deals with is GR covers almost everything in the book. And, granting that tonight carries forward with whatever happens 20, 30, 50 years from now. That’s where our problem is. That’s where our concern is. We don’t mind, particularly, you continuing your business. It’s not leaving it wide open for everyone in the future,” said Commissioner Sandra Baldridge.


In fact, property owner Linda Carter later clarified that the antiques in question were automobiles. The commission expressed concern that automobile restoration could negatively impact the environment, but were assured that this was not the case by the shop’s owners.


“This is out in the boonies, I understand. I also understand that whatever we do is going to be so precedential, and it’s in an area that is extremely environmentally sensitive. I’m inclined to say you can’t have anything, but that’s a taking and I’m not quite that severe. I understand that the use that’s there now may not be there tomorrow, that’s why I am going to say that is the only permitted GR use,” said Chair Betty Baker.


After some discussion, the commission voted 4-2 to recommend the property be zoned Limited Retail (LR), with the current use, auto sales, being the only permitted GR use. The owners of the current establishment, Motoreum, stated that they perform a very small number of tune-up services for the cars that they sell, though their website advertises complete service and restoration work.


If it is less than 10 percent of the use of the property, it is permitted as an accessory use of auto sales.


If the zoning change is approved by Council, the property will then go through a site review plan, where issues such as impervious cover will be addressed.


Board Member Patricia Seeger voted against the change, seemingly unable to shake her concern about environmental factors.


“I think your environmental issues, with all due respect, will be addressed at time of site plan. And they aren’t going to be easy to address,” said Baker.

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