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Austin gets its first look at new Land Development Code

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 by Syeda Hasan

The city of Austin has released the much-awaited first draft of CodeNEXT, its new land development guidelines. It’s the first time in more than 30 years that the city will have a new Land Development Code.

The new code aims to address a host of issues, from streamlining the city’s notoriously slow permitting process to improving flood mitigation. Speaking at City Hall on Monday, Mayor Steve Adler said much of the city’s current zoning will remain the same under CodeNEXT, but the idea is to accommodate Austin’s future growth by encouraging development along major transit corridors, places that already see high traffic and activity.

“Our greatest amount of housing supply should be in and along the corridors in the city where we have the greatest amount of traffic in the city, where the greatest opportunities exist for building out transit,” Adler said.

The next step for CodeNEXT is the release of a map that will lay out the new zoning districts across the city. It’s set to be released in April, after which there will be more time for public input.

“We have set the timeline for this project, and it’s basically a year,” Adler said. “The goal is to have this (City) Council vote on first reading on this code December of 2017, which allows for a final passage in the first quarter of next year.”

Interim City Manager Elaine Hart noted that the draft code released on Monday will change as the city gathers more public input.

“The draft code does not seek to create new policy, but rather to successfully implement existing city policy,” Hart said. “As the mayor said, however, through the input over the next few months, there may be additional policy considerations that the Council will take up.”

The city is set to host an open house previewing CodeNEXT on Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center and is also taking public comment online. The draft code is also available (and annotate-able) online. Though it’s unlikely Austinites will have fully digested the 1,000-odd pages by the time of the first open house, there are a host of outreach and public meetings on the horizon. A final version of the code is scheduled to go to Council for adoption in 2018.

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Photo by Joe Mabel [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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