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Environmental Board recommends variance for Loop 360 storage facility

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Environmental Board has voted unanimously to recommend variances for a property located within the Barton Springs Recharge Zone that was once slated to be a Wendy’s Restaurant.


Developers now plan to construct a two-building 18,500-square-foot storage facility on the 2.7 acre lot.


The board voted 7-0 to recommend cut and fill variances for a Loop 360 property located between Barton Creek Square and the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Developers and staff noted that the originally-approved Wendy’s Restaurant was a much higher-intensity use of the site, both environmentally and in terms of traffic impact in the congested area.


Jeb Brown, with Planning and Development Review, explained that while the property is in the recharge zone according to GIS, the geology of the lot is unique.


“The Del Rio clay that is underneath this project, this project is essentially in a bowl… You’ve got an impenetrable layer of clay, that even with these cut and fills, the water is not going to be really effectively permeating through it,” said Brown.


Paul Linehan, president of Land Strategies Inc., explained that developers were seeking the variance in order to slide the buildings back into the side of the hill.


“This site is clay that is 20 to 40 feet deep, Del Rio clay. What that does is create an impermeable layer, where anything landing on this site is captured, runs into a water-quality pond, is treated, and then re- irrigated on the site. So there is no way for water or pollutants to go through the barrier into the aquifer,” said Linehan.


Developers agreed to meet several conditions including terracing the site, maintaining a 39-foot height limit and reducing the building footprint They also implemented enhanced water quality controls.


“I think everybody in this room is like, ‘Are we going to have another box on 360 that doesn’t look good?’ and it’s not that way at all,” said Linehan. “It’s a first-class looking building as a far as a storage facility goes. It’s state-of-the-art, it’s first-class, and that’s what they did.”


The building will be set far back from the road, with about 71 percent of the lot dedicated to natural area, and an impervious cover of 13.67 percent.


“Aesthetically, it’s really going to look very nice. But how many people are going to see that? Really only the people who go to the building structure… It’s going to be so far back you just won’t see it from the roadway,” said Linehan.


Commissioner Bob Anderson did caution against the “excessive use of Italian Jasmine,” adding a friendly amendment that requested developers strive to use native plants where possible.


Anderson also noted that in a recent visit to the site, he saw what seemed to be excessive trimming done to gain access to the site.


Linehan explained that he had documented what had been done and submitted it to the city.


“It wasn’t out-of-bounds, it was just a little further than what I think a normal construction project has,” said Anderson.

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