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Music school wins parking reduction variance

Monday, September 28, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

A future music school earned a parking reduction variance from the city of Austin’s Board of Adjustment two weeks ago when attorney David Cancialosi successfully argued that parking compliance would have run the property afoul of the city’s Save Our Springs Ordinance.

Cancialosi was representing property owners Shana and Dave Guidi, who requested a parking variance that reduced the required number of spaces on their property from nine to one. Cancialosi explained that they were caught in the middle of differing parking requirements for commercial use zoning and the Save Our Springs Ordinance.

Board members voted unanimously to grant the variance and stipulated that the reduction be tied to the business’s use – personal improvement services – and that teaching end at 9 p.m.

“Getting parking variances is getting very, very hard, simply because of the growth in the city,” said Board Member Michael Von Ohlen, who, despite that prevailing sentiment, made the motion to grant the variance.

“If most parents are like me, they want to drop the kids off and come back. They don’t want to sit there and listen to them practice,” said Von Ohlen. “They get enough of that at home.”

Cancialosi described the building at 6000 Mountain Shadows Drive as a “1970s-era residence” that was annexed by the city in the mid-’80s. Earlier this year, it was rezoned as Neighborhood Commercial (LR), with 17 uses in that zoning category prohibited. The physical home hasn’t changed, and the music school has not yet been opened at the location.

Shana Guidi explained that there would generally be one or two teachers on-site, teaching individual students.

“There’s not many people there,” said Guidi.

Though the hands of nearby neighbors were forced, Cancialosi did offer to work with them on an off-site parking plan. Shana Guidi said that she has been unable to reach those property owners. She added that she thinks the property is a textile company.

“We can’t tell who owns it. I’ve been there – it looks like some kind of contracting/industrial use,” said Cancialosi.

Cancialosi explained that most neighbors supported the variance, save one property owner who lives in California. That owner doesn’t oppose the use but hoped there could be some kind of compromise made on parking.

“If that’s possible, we’re all ears, but the staff has described to me over several meetings … (that) the SOS variance is the overriding, overarching issue here,” said Cancialosi.

“If this doesn’t get approved for this case tonight, my opinion is … you are going to see this case again. Because you can’t use this the way it’s been zoned without some degree of variance,” said Cancialosi. “We wish there was a compromise.”

Board Member Melissa Hawthorne acknowledged the dilemma, saying, “Specifically, attempting to bring the property into compliance in terms of parking will bring it out of compliance with the SOS Ordinance.”

Board Members Eric Goff and Melissa Neslund were absent for the vote.

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