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“Grandiose” East Austin remodel stalls at BoA

Thursday, June 2, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

Fast-paced change in Central East Austin has helped contribute a boon of cases to the city’s planning commissions, where it has become clear that prosperity has been a mixed bag.

At their most recent meeting, Board of Adjustment members took up a case that showcased how rampant redevelopment has its pros and cons. And, without a formal recommendation from the neighborhood, Board of Adjustment members opted to postpone the case to allow that recommendation to take shape.

Lucy Begg spoke on behalf of Kevin Fagan, who owns the home at 111 Attayac Street. Fagan is hoping to add a second story to his 550-square-foot home in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. To do that, he needs a handful of variances that will allow him to: decrease the front yard setback from 25 feet to 3 feet, decrease the rear yard setback from 10 to 5 feet, increase impervious cover from 45 percent to 53 percent, decrease the number of parking spaces from two to one, waive the McMansion “rear setback plane requirement” and decrease the minimum lot size from 5,750 square feet to 1,650 square feet.

Begg explained that the small lot size prevented reasonable use of the property. She maintained that reasonable use in this case would be the same development entitlements as neighbors, adjusted proportionally for the size of the lot. In addition, Begg said, the reduced setback was in line with the rest of the neighborhood and the increased impervious cover would allow for construction of the single parking space.

Timothy Bresson lives to the east of the home. He told the board that the neighborhood had discussed the “grandiose” project and feared that if they allowed it to go forward, “more people who have the means to put large houses in small lots are going to see an opportunity.”

“They say this is not a precedent, but the neighborhood has never seen this kind of money coming in, so this is a precedent,” said Bresson.

On the other hand, the neighbor admitted that he was none too thrilled with the state of things prior to the renovation.

“The original house is an eyesore. The remodel they are doing now is nice, (but) to put a 1,200-square-foot house in that lot is pushing it,” he said. “It’s a very, very large structure on a very tiny lot.”

Board members voted unanimously to postpone the case, which will be heard at their June 13 meeting.

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