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ZAP adds restrictions to zoning change to build South Austin condos

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 by Elizabeth Pagano

Neighbors presented a well-organized front against a South Austin zoning case at the Zoning and Platting Commission last night, showing up in force to protest the requested change aimed at building a high-density condominium complex.


The proposed zoning would change the lot from its current Development Reserve zoning to SF-6. Neighbors also have produced a valid petition of 35 percent against the change, asking for zoning no greater than SF-2


The change would permit developers to build a proposed 80 condominiums, the “Peaceful Hill Condominiums,” on the 9.5-acre property, located at 8107 Peaceful Hill Lane and 501 Hubach Lane. While the ZAP voted to approve the zoning change 5-1, with Commissioner Jason Meeker voting against, and Vice Chair Patricia Seeger absent, they also attached amendments limiting the density to 60 units, and asking for a public restrictive covenant that would prohibit the development from being gated.


An adjacent property failed to gain the commission’s approval for zoning that would legitimize its decades-long non-conforming use as a salvage yard at their previous meeting,


“As far as an appropriate zoning for this location… This SF-6 zoning request is a miracle,” said Chair Betty Baker. “You could be looking at industrial zoning, you could be looking at research and development. You could be looking at extremely intensive zoning, and you are not. You are very fortunate in that regard.”


Meeker said he was not comfortable voting in favor of the change saying, “We have roughly 103 pages here. It sounds like a neighborhood that is very concerned with the safety of their children, and they’re at the breaking point with the traffic that they do have.”


Most of the dozen or so speakers who opposed the change spoke about traffic concerns, and how the increased traffic might endanger children who regularly walk to nearby Williams Elementary in an area with narrow streets and limited sidewalks. Though the main streets in the area have 30 mile-per-hour speed limits, neighbors say they are rife with speeders.


Jody Mattingly, who resides in the neighboring Parkridge Gardens development expressed concern with plans for the new development to connect to Shallot Way.


“The streets are narrow, local streets which are at times inadequate even for our current traffic volumes,” said Mattingly. “I purchased my home on Shallot Way with the understanding that the street in front of my house would serve only my 130-home subdivision, and would not become a thoroughfare.”


“I have an 18-month old, and a 3-and-a-half-year-old. So I get it. I totally get it. But I also think that expectations have to be adjusted and we have to deal with the reality that we need roads for people to get around. And they have to coexist with people, and that’s inherently dangerous,” said Commissioner Gregory Bourgeois, who went on to point out that there were many city schools that were built on busier roads than Mairo Street, even with the increased traffic from 80 units.


“As far as Shallot Way, that road was designed to be extended, and that road should be extended, and that should never be a dead end, and I will never support that being a dead end. That’s what causes more problems in the overall traffic system. We have to understand that we can’t put every school, and we can’t put every house at the end of a cul-de-sac,” said Bourgeois


Only one neighbor, Jonathon Thompson, spoke in favor of the development. His wife’s family has owned the property at 8005 Peaceful Hill Drive, which will be bound on two sides by the development, since 1944


Thompson told the commission that by promoting urban infill development, such as this, they could reduce water and wastewater costs and more easily promote green building. He also said that the vacant lot had attracted transient populations and bamboo, and that he would not miss either of them.


City Council will hear the case on April 26.

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