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Board of Adjustment postpones hearing on South Lamar condo project

Monday, June 17, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

Spurred on by a sudden influx of development in their neighborhood, a rogue group of concerned neighbors showed up to oppose a South Lamar project at the Board of Adjustment last week.


Andrew Googins was at the Board of Adjustment requesting a reduction in the minimum compatibility setback for his condominium project at 2807 Del Curto Road. He explained to the board that if compatibility setbacks are imposed, it will leave approximately 40 percent of the site undevelopable.


Developers have already agreed to a conditional overlay that will limit vehicle trips to fewer than 2,000 per day. Though the lot has SF-6 zoning, they have also agreed to abide by SF-3 development standards on the 2.8 acre site, limiting building height to 35 feet, and overall density to 20 residential units, among other things.


Googins said that they had struck a deal with the southern adjacent neighbor for a 10-foot setback (modified from the original request of five feet.) He explained that they had also met with representatives from the South Lamar Neighborhood Association, and as a result agreed to limit some of the condominiums to single-story builds. The compromise earned the support of the association.


Though the opponents who appeared at the board meeting declared in the end that they “un-objected” to the development, the board opted to postpone the case until its July meeting nonetheless. The extra time will allow neighbors to communicate with each other, and the development, and better understand the project.


Several neighbors spoke in opposition to the project, citing concerns about traffic and overcrowding in the neighborhood. But they had not been in contact with the neighborhood association, and knew little about the project. On their own, they had collected 35 objections from the neighborhood, after receiving notice of the project.


After hearing about the plans for the lot and the compromises already made with the neighborhood association, the opponents expressed relief.


Board Member Bryan King expressed his own concern – that those opposed to the project were not in contact with the neighborhood association. And as the founding president of the South Lamar Neighborhood Association, he encouraged them to contact the organization.


“I would like the neighborhood to know that development is going to happen there,” said Board Member Michael VonOhlen. “Do you want something that is going to be compatible with the neighborhood and keep the area character? They are condos, but they look like homes, versus having a big block that looks like a condo in the neighborhood.”


“I must commend you,” said VonOhlen to the developer. “Even though some folks have been left out of the process, it looks like you’ve done good due diligence here. It’s nice to see somebody coming in and wanting to develop something here in Austin that is more the ‘Austin flavor,’ or ‘the Old Austin Flavor,’ versus the new ‘let’s build it, make it bigger, make it badder, make it Seattle or L.A. or something’.”


The case will return to the Board of Adjustment on July 8.

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