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Staff plans for South Lamar development mitigation

Friday, October 10, 2014 by Michael Kanin

A memo distributed last week by the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department director Greg Guernsey lays out a set of recommendations from city staff designed to mitigate some effects of development on neighborhoods in the South Lamar region. This comes after a resolution from Council Member Laura Morrison called on staff to address transportation and flooding issues in the region.

Staff recommendation bullets include the completion of a study of the West Bouldin Creek Watershed, an expansion of the South Lamar Corridor Study, an examination of the impact of “infill and urban development/redevelopment” on the region, a call for an examination of potential revenue sources for additional infrastructure in the area and a look toward potential code changes delivered via the CodeNEXT process.

All told, staff puts the cost of its recommendations at up to $3 million. The entirety of that price tag is attached to costs associated with the two studies. Staff suggests that the remaining activities could be covered with existing resources.

As the Monitor reported, Council’s Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee heard about the rapid growth of the South Lamar region and a set of transportation infrastructure issues that directly affected the area in September. At that meeting, staff also called on Council members to offer more direction about “which kind of approaches” they might like to see staff take with regard to the region.

The memo offers some detail about the current list of suggestions. If OK’d, the completed West Bouldin Creek Watershed would, writes Guernsey, offer an “expanded study” that could “identify and prioritize facility needs, identify projected capital expenditures, identify funding sources, (and) provide a plan to facilitate public-private partnerships” for that region. In addition, Guernsey writes that “the scope (of the study) should … be expanded to identify and prioritize roadway upgrades that will improve the drainage system and convey stormwater to the below grade pipes and existing natural channels.”

According to Guernsey, the expanded South Lamar Corridor Study would “address the lack of mobility options within” that area. As revised, it would, he writes, “create a multimodal thoroughfare plan (i.e. a collector plan) for the South Lamar Neighborhood.” That, says Guernsey, could then be used as “a template for other areas of the city.”

Guernsey also suggests that staff could convene two “cross-departmental working groups.” The first would “identify code provisions and development review processes related to and affected by infill and urban development/redevelopment.” The second would “generate a report that will identify different funding mechanisms, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of those mechanisms, and provide recommendations” in relation to potential additional revenue streams that might cover the costs of infrastructure.

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