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Commission endorses zoning change for far East Austin juice bar

Monday, August 26, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

The stars have aligned for a juice bar in the far reaches of East Austin, though not everyone is convinced that the business will thrive.


The Zoning and Platting Commission has recommended a zoning change that will allow plans for Rogers Juice Bar to move forward. The business is slated for 5201 Rogers Lane, which is off Martin Luther Kind Boulevard, east of Ed Bluestein Road.


Though a neighbor had raised concerns about potential archeological artifacts on the site at a previous meeting, staff concluded that was not part of a zoning or site plan review process. That neighbor did not show up at last week’s meeting, nor was anyone able to find proof of or documentation about archeological artifacts on the property.


No other neighbors spoke against the change.


Jason Jagoda with Auspicious Investments LLC sought a zoning change from single family (SF-2) to neighborhood commercial (LR). Staff supported a change that included Mixed Use and prohibited vehicular access from FM 969.


Commissioners approved staff’s recommendation in a vote of 4-1 with Commissioner Sean Compton voting in opposition.  Commissioners Cynthia Banks and Rahm McDaniel were absent. The commission added a condition that will prohibit a drive through establishment on the site.


Though Chair Betty Baker was skeptical about the business plan, she voted in favor of the zoning change.


“This is an investment in which I would not participate in,” said Baker. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere. I know we’re not responsible for the success of someone, but this does not seem to be a real exciting business here… I just don’t see a juice bar out there on Rogers Lane.”


“I have no problem with it. It just seems sort of strange,” said Baker.


Compton pointed out that TxDOT calculated about 20,000 trips per day, and said that was most likely what the owner was relying on.


David Mosser, who was speaking on behalf of Jagoda, said that as far as he knew the only research the owner had done was “watching the traffic and counting the cars.”


Planning and Development Review Senior Planner Heather Chaffin said commercial development in the area was increasing.


“Things have been picking up out there,” said Chaffin. “It’s pretty interesting.”


Mosser told the commission that there were two driveways on the property already. Though the lot is undeveloped, and in use as “vehicular storage,” Mosser said they intended to use those two driveways for a drive through juice bar that would be open for a few hours in the morning and afternoon.


“I think they are very kind to say vehicular storage,” noted Commissioner Patricia Seeger. “Someone has just parked a lot of junked cars and buses out there. So I guess it isn’t a drive through establishment today.”


Seeger said the site was near a very steep slope that could cause traffic and safety. problems when combined with a lot of drive through traffic going in and out of the business, and brought forward the prohibition on drive throughs.


Mosser said that the business, initially named “Rogers Juice Bar,” hopes to offer healthy alternatives in an area that currently lacks them.


“Maybe people drink more juices than I realize,” said Baker.

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