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Board of Adjustment rules on several Lake Austin cases

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by Kara Nuzback

Austin’s Board of Adjustment made several decisions last week related to residential changes in the Lake Austin area.


A request to tear down a boathouse behind a home on Tortuga Trail was blocked by Board Member Michael Von Ohlen, who said he noticed a trend along the lake of property owners building brand new docks next to existing older structures.


Carolyn Aupperle, representing 5221 Tortuga Trail homeowner Manny Farahani, asked the board for a variance to allow Farahani “to extend a bulkhead and fill in the area of a former boat dock” in the Lake Austin zoning district.


Aupperle said Farahani recently built a new home on the property and a new, open-air, two-tier boat dock. Architect Brian Dillard told the board the old boathouse – an  enclosed, stone structure – was in disrepair, and would have to be dredged to make it useable again.


Aupperle said the boathouse had become a bug-infested sediment hole. “He just wants it to be clean and neat and safe,” Aupperle said of Farahani.


Von Ohlen said he was displeased Farahani built a new boat slip when a boathouse already existed on the property. Referring to a picture of the older, enclosed boathouse, he said, “That structure was not dilapidated.”


“Save it for someone else; I’m a construction guy,” Von Ohlen said. The board denied Farahani’s variance request.


Adrian James, another homeowner in the Lake Austin zoning district, was denied a variance that would have allowed him to build a meditation room on the second story of his home at 6702 Troll Haven.


James told the board he would enclose part of a second-story back deck to construct the room. The deck was built into setbacks after the Board of Adjustment approved a variance request in 2008.


James argued he was a cancer survivor with three young children, and he needed the extra space to practice yoga and meditation.


Board Member Bryan King made the motion to deny James’ request, arguing the 2,900-square-foot lot was small for James’ Rivercrest neighborhood, but sizeable compared to most Austin homes. “This is not a small lot in my opinion,” he said.


The board granted two variance requests in the Lake Austin zoning district. One allows homeowners Carajean and Branch Archer to build a bulkhead behind their home at 5219 Tortuga Trail.


The other approved variance allows homeowners Lorin and Staci Radtke to encroach on the shoreline setback at 3009 Westlake Drive. to construct a single family home and carport around the perimeter of a lagoon and canal.


Von Ohlen made a motion to approve the request because, he said, the Radtkes’ construction would not encroach on the 75-foot setback required for the lake; the request would only encroach on the setback for the manmade lagoon.


Board Chairman Jeff Jack said City Code should be clarified to express whether the 75-foot setback was required only for the lake, not for canals.


Three more Lake Austin zoning district cases were postponed. More than a dozen other cases citywide were taken off the June 9 agenda or postponed.

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