Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

New BoA reverses ADU decision

Though the city’s new accessory dwelling unit ordinance is expected to remain in committee until fall, one North Hyde Park homeowner will be able to proceed with an ADU after a second chance with a new board worked out in his favor last week.

John Walewski owns a house at 4514 Avenue B. He would like to build a 550-square-foot ADU for his mother-in-law, but the required additional parking space is not an easy fit on his lot.

Walewski said that he currently parks on the street and his wife parks in the driveway in order to charge her electric car. He sought a variance that would either eliminate one of the required parking spaces or allow a parking configuration not otherwise permitted under the North Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District.

In June, the Board of Adjustment denied that variance request. Last week, at the first meeting of the board with its new membership, board members voted to reconsider the earlier decision.

Ultimately, they voted to reduce the number of required parking spaces from three to two, with only Board Member Melissa Hawthorne voting in opposition.

This time, the board stuck to discussing the potential parking configurations that could work and what would be the best fit for the neighborhood. They did not discuss their opinions on ADUs, nor the pending ordinance.

Walewski explained that he had tried two different configurations to fit the three spaces on the lot, but the first was not allowed under city code and the second was not allowed under the Hyde Park NCCD, because of his narrow lot width.

Board Member William Burkhardt said that he realized “the city does have sort of a Catch-22 in their parking requirements for ADUs” and would be willing to support a variation of the three-space parking plan. After some discussion and sketching of potential solutions, the board opted to eliminate the third space entirely.

Hawthorne argued for an alternative that would push two spaces farther back, noting that three parking spaces right in front of the house “was not very appealing.” It was ultimately unsuccessful.

Image courtesy of the city of Austin.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

accessory dwelling units: This term refers to smaller, secondary units built on the property of a primary residence. Also known as ADUs, mother-in-law suites, granny flats, or garden apartments, among other things.

City of Austin Board of Adjustment: The city's Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body that decides on variances, special exceptions and can issue interpretations of code.

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