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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Council approves East Slaughter Lane development on first reading
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano
Despite neighborhood concerns, City Council unanimously – but provisionally – approved an East Slaughter Lane zoning change at last week’s meeting.
Council members voted 7-0 to approve the change from MF-2 zoning to MF-3 zoning at 515 Slaughter Lane on first reading.
The property, which is about 22.7 acres, had an approved 2002 site plan which would have allowed 528 dwelling units on the property. That site plan expired, and now the owner is trying to develop the property again with only 512 units. Though there will be fewer units, the project would increase density on the site, because of an increase in multi-bedroom units.
Despite the reduced number of units, neighbors oppose the project. Planning and Development Review Director Greg Guernsey explained that just prior to the Council meeting, a petition had been submitted, but his department had not had a chance to validate it.
Guernsey said the new plan did not present a situation that was much different, traffic-wise, from the previously-approved plan.
“I understand that they are saying it’s not going to affect traffic much, but at this point there’s already so much traffic going through our neighborhood,” said Krisha Allen, who lives in a neighborhood next to the proposed development. “The population has already increased so much that people are already using that back road.”
Allen asked that the subdivision not be allowed to access the smaller Narrow Glen Parkway, and instead limit their access solely to Slaughter Lane.
“If it’s 10 more cars, 20 more cars, it’s going to make an impact,” said Allen. She told Council that she additionally objected to plans for the new development to exit into her neighborhood, though they would be okay with an emergency exit there.
Civil engineer for the project, James Schissler of Jones and Carter, a member of the Environmental Board, said that limited entrances and exits to Slaughter Lane would probably be fine, as long as it didn’t involve another lengthy traffic impact analysis and delays at the city.
“I’m sure people would still live there,” said Schissler.
Jeff Lindsey from Westwood Residential 48LP told Council that plans had moved away from building a large number of efficiencies as originally planned. He said it would be better for the neighborhood.
Lindsey said he had met with members of the adjacent homeowners’ association previously, and all of the board members were present. He said they expressed a desire to reduce the speed limit on Slaughter Lane, to which Lindsey agreed.
“I believed, at the conclusion of our meeting, that everything was satisfactory,” said Lindsey. “I did notice that, of the individuals that we met with, none of those folks have actually signed the petition.”
Alfonso Peña, who also lives in the adjacent subdivision, said the homeowners’ association “never notified the actual homeowners.”
“Even though I guess they are technically the representatives, it’s been an ongoing issue as far as them giving proper notice to the homeowners,” said Peña. “I found out about this yesterday.”
Peña asked that Council allow the opportunity for more public comment to allow neighbors to come down. (This will be possible at the second and third reading of the case.) He also asked that the new project be limited to Slaughter Lane access.
Lindsey said he would be happy to speak with concerned neighbors, but resisted the idea of a postponement, as he felt they had already “taken that step” by meeting with the official HOA.
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