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Council to consider Crestview valid petition case

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 by Jo Clifton

On Thursday, City Council will be considering its first valid petition case in which the neighborhood opposes any zoning change for the property in question.

Developer David Kahn is proposing to build a project of just under 70,000 square feet, including an office building and a small amount of residential development, in the Crestview neighborhood on the site previously occupied by the Korean United Presbyterian Church.

In February, Council considered a zoning change with a valid petition that was very specific in detailing the kind of changes the neighborhood would accept. In that case, Council tailored the zoning change to match the requirements of the petition.

In this case, in the petition the Crestview neighborhood has indicated that it wants no change to the zoning. However, members of the neighborhood contact team did state at a meeting that they would accept some changes.

Last October, the previous Council approved the zoning change for the project at Justin Lane and Cullen Avenue on a vote of 4-2, on first reading only. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo was one of the members who voted against the project, which has a valid petition at about 34 percent.

The project is in District 7, and the district’s Council representative, Leslie Pool, indicated at Tuesday’s work session that she intends to vote against the proposed zoning change. If Tovo maintains her opposition — which seems likely — opponents need only one more vote to prevent final approval of the project.

As Jerry Rusthoven, the zoning case manager, explained to Council on Tuesday, “If it got less than six votes, it would be dead. If it got six, seven or eight votes, it would pass on second reading only. Or if it got nine or more votes, it would pass on second and third reading.”

Rusthoven added that if Council wanted to propose something entirely different, it could do so with six or more votes on second reading. Staff would have to come back with the revised ordinance for third reading if that were to happen, he said.

Ron Thrower, who represents Kahn, said Tuesday he is well aware that this project is among the first to face a valid petition from a neighborhood. Residents have strongly indicated that they wish to keep the current SF-3 zoning for single-family development.

Thrower said, “In a weird twist, the buyer of the property has decided to file for a future land use map and zoning change” for the 1-acre corner section of the property to Multi-Family 4. Thrower said his client filed that request in February of this year, but it has not made it out of the departmental development review process.

Thrower conceded that there is no reason to rush the paperwork because of the zoning request already in the works. If the project going before Council on Thursday is successful, he said, Kahn would withdraw the request for MF-4.

Rusthoven said that generally, the department does not accept two simultaneous cases on the same property.

Chip Harris, who gathered the signatures for the petition opposing the zoning, said, “In 2015, there are very few people in Austin that don’t understand and accept growth. … We’re going to have growth.” However, he added, it should “play out in a measured and reasonable way.”

Harris explained that last October, the Crestview Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, with more than 50 members in attendance, voted unanimously to recommend a zoning category of SF-4B, which would allow condominium development on the site.

He said such a change “would essentially triple the density from the existing zoning … and be comparable to surrounding density.” That change, Harris said, would allow the developer to build 18 units per acre as opposed to the current zoning, which allows six units per acre.

Council Member Sheri Gallo tried several times Tuesday to get Pool to say whether the neighborhood would accept multifamily zoning on the site. Pool said Kahn had not been interested at the time, and she did not know whether the neighborhood would accept multifamily. She offered to set up a meeting between Gallo and Crestview residents.

 

 

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