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Planning Commission OKs daycare with restrictions, reservations

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Planning Commission threw its unanimous support behind a proposed Central Austin daycare last week despite some reservations about the viability of the business plan.


The commission voted in favor of a change at 4505 IH-35 from SF-3 to Limited Office zoning, adding a conditional overlay that requires an 8-foot fence and limited vehicle trips to 2,000 trips per day. The zoning change will allow the property to be used as a daycare.


A.J. Ghaddar of P.E. & Associates, said that he wasn’t sure how many children would be attending the daycare. Ultimately, the Planning Commission decided that limiting the daycare center to under six people was too prohibitive, and with neighborhood input decided to allow between 6 and 20 people at the daycare instead.


The neighborhood backed down from two requested restrictions, after being informed that neither telecommunication towers nor religious assembly can be prohibited according to city code.


Chris Swanson, Contact Team Chair for the Upper Boggy Creek Neighborhood Association, said that his neighbors were concerned about traffic in the neighborhood. He pointed out that while the property had access to the frontage road, it also shared an owner with the adjacent lot, which had access to the neighborhood through Fernwood Road


“These are properties that have been in the specter of highway expansion for years and so these driveways have been cut off. Buildings are right on the frontage road. And so while there is a driveway that exits on to the frontage road, I don’t think anyone will use it, if TxDOT will even approve it,” said Swanson.


Swanson said that a driveway that crossed the adjacent property was much more likely to be used, and said that it had been used that way for the past decade. He noted that workers currently rehabilitating the property all used the driveway that accessed Fernwood Road.


Swanson also brought up more lurid concerns, noting that nearby properties that had been zoned as retail were “essentially being used as a sexually-oriented business,” despite the zoning.


“The neighborhood’s big concern is that you have a zoning change for something that will mask a sexually-oriented business,” said Swanson. “There are similar businesses up and down the frontage road. The property I am referring to is called ‘Lace,’ and I believe they retail massage oils.”


Swanson explained that this is the reason the neighborhood had requested “personal services” be restricted through a conditional overlay.


The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to approve the zoning change with all of the requested neighborhood restrictions that were legal. Chair Dave Anderson and Board Members Alfonso Hernandez, James Nortey, and Brian Roark were absent.


Though the vote was unanimous, Board Member Stephen Oliver did express doubts about the plan, saying, “I’m very supportive of the LO zoning on the site… I actually think the use itself that is being proposed by the applicant is not the best use of this site. I actually don’t like the use on this site, personally. That being said, the zoning is very appropriate. But that’s a question for the applicant and their business. I don’t want to get into their stuff.”

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