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BoA seeks answer to impervious cover question

Monday, February 23, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

As of last week, the Board of Adjustment was still looking for an explanation for an extra 10 percent of impervious cover in the plans for a Central Austin home.

Board members postponed the case for a third time, in search of answers.

“I will certainly try to get you an answer … maybe the truth. I do not know,” said consultant Jim Bennett. Bennett is representing homeowner William Reid.

Reid is requesting a variance from the Land Development Code that would allow him to increase the impervious cover of his house from 45 percent to 50.15 percent. The variance would allow him to maintain the existing impervious cover at 1301 West 29th St., which includes a historic home.

Bennett noted that the code would allow impervious cover up to 45 percent, so the variance was only for 5 percentage points but a 10 percent increase. Chair Jeff Jack called that “a big difference.”

Bennett told board members that he could not determine how the impervious cover ended up at just over 50 percent, when the approved building permit showed a plan that would entail just over 40 percent impervious cover.

That, said Chair Jeff Jack, was his main problem with the request. He said, “We’re being told we are not increasing the impervious cover. But there is a building permit that was approved at 40.7 (percent), and now it is at 50.15. And nobody knows how it got bigger.”

Board Member Bryan King said that he needed to know what happened.

Though some board members seemed ready to approve the case, they voted to postpone instead, and asked Bennett to return for a fourth time with more answers about what had happened. Bennett asked what, or whom, he should bring to the next meeting.

“How would you like to determine this, being the sleuths that we are?” asked Bennett. “I can have the person that did the application show up. I can have the architect show up. I can have the owner show up. And I don’t know if you still are going to know.”

Jack suggested that, though it was not this person’s place to conduct the investigation, the individual who filled out the application would be useful to have on hand.

“I think most of us are sympathetic to this variance, but it’s hard to swallow,” said Jack. “Even if someone made a mathematical miscalculation – that’s an answer. To say you just don’t know – that is not an answer.”

King said that he wanted to see two drawings, one of the proposed project and one of what is actually on the ground now. Those illustrations, he hoped, could help board members understand where the extra impervious cover was on the property.

Board Member Melissa Hawthorne said that, if she knew the extra impervious cover came from drainage, she would support the variance.

“To me, the house has great value, and they’ve gone through a great effort to preserve it,” said Hawthorne. “I understand that it’s got some drainage issues, and I’m OK with that.”


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