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Duplexes to rise again

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

Board of Adjustment members gave a partial go-ahead to a Rosedale duplex project last week – but it deferred an impervious cover variance for now, pending neighborhood support.

Mark Vornberg of Dick Clark and Associates told the board that Diane Howard’s family had owned the land at 4705 and 4707 Rosedale Ave. for more than 100 years. Though the family has owned the land since it was a farm, currently it is home to two duplexes built in 1954.

Vornberg said they were trying to use the same footprint and rebuild it “pretty much how the neighborhood started.” They are seeking variances to decrease the minimum lot size, increase the maximum impervious cover from 45 percent to 53.6 percent and allow separation of the two units by a carport rather an an existing wall.

The current duplexes are two-bedroom, one-bath units at 800 square feet each. The family hopes to replace them with two two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplexes of 1,300 square feet in compliance with the McMansion ordinance.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the lot size and carport variances. Vornberg will present the case for increased impervious cover again at a later Board of Adjustment meeting.

Board Member Melissa Hawthorne pointed out that the family has been on the land longer than the board members have been alive, and she was inclined to support the lot size and carport variances outright and the impervious cover variance if flooding concerns were addressed through rainwater harvesting and supported by the neighborhood.

“They were here, and we all came around them,” said Hawthorne. “To me, letting them keep what they have if the flooding problem is addressed appropriately – I don’t have any issue with that.”

Vornberg said that while he liked the idea of rainwater harvesting to help offset the impervious cover, the topic was “minorly breached, but not embraced” by the Rosedale neighborhood.

The neighborhood does not support the variance for elevated impervious cover, but Vornberg explained that the additional impervious cover would allow for “two great parking spaces.” He said that they could build the project at 45 percent impervious cover, but they would need to design tandem parking spaces that could lead to residents parking on the street.

Vornberg said that the duplexes have been continuously rented, and that they are currently “in pretty bad shape” – particularly the foundations. He said that the owners are trying to update the duplexes, but “because they are on a substandard lot, we really can’t fix them up without tearing them down and starting over.”

Image courtesy of the city of Austin.

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