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New ZAP commissioner opposes first rezoning case

Friday, February 10, 2017 by Joseph Caterine

Unable to come to a consensus, the Zoning and Platting Commission had no official recommendation in a rezoning case for a property currently zoned Development Reserve in Northwest Austin.

Applicant Robert Earl Strobo is seeking Single Family Large Lot (SF-1) zoning for 4509 City Park Road and is agreeable to staff’s recommendation of a conditional overlay limiting the number of dwellings to two.

In his first regular meeting of ZAP on Feb. 7, new Commissioner Jim Duncan, the chair of CodeNEXT’s Citizens Advisory Group and former Land Development Services director for the city, made his opposition to the rezoning crystal clear. Duncan thought SF-1 zoning would set the wrong precedent for the area.

“This is a rather topographically constrained site,” he said at the meeting. “I would think (Rural Residential) zoning would be a much more appropriate use.”

The only SF zoning adjacent to the property is to the north, but there are no residences there; it’s home to only the Recording Conservatory of Austin.

Case manager Wendy Rhoades argued that SF-1 would give the developers more options. “The Rural Residential district has a minimum 1-acre lot size and also has a 40-foot (minimum) front setback,” she said. “Given the terrain on the east side of the property, we felt the SF-1 also gives it more flexibility in deciding the residences.”

“I don’t think anyone’s going to front on City Park Road,” Duncan responded.

Commissioner Bruce Evans asked if the 25-foot minimum setback connected to SF-1 zoning was absolutely necessary for development on the site. Representing the applicant, Connor Overby of Texas Engineering Solutions LLC said that it was one of the main reasons they were seeking that zoning district.

“As of now, we’re doing a plat for a single, one-lot subdivision,” he said, “(and part of) the plat review is to dedicate additional right-of-way to City Park Road. We don’t know how much, and we don’t know how that’s going to impact the front setback.”

Vice Chair Gabriel Rojas asked if a future buyer would be able to re-subdivide the property if SF-1 zoning was granted. “With the conditional overlay and the watershed regulations, no more than two lots could be subdivided,” Overby said.

“Hopefully CodeNEXT will solve all these issues,” Commissioner Sunil Lavani said. “That’s why we have to use (conditional overlays) left and right, from a mechanistic standpoint, to solve these issues.”

After the discussion, Duncan said that he still felt that rezoning to SF-1 would have negative consequences and made a motion to zone the property to RR instead, seconded by Commissioner Ann Denkler.

At that point, Overby interrupted and asked if the case could be tabled to give staff and the applicant more time to come up with a different solution.

Stephen Delgado, also with Texas Engineering Solutions and the principal on the project, said that a postponement would give the applicant time to find out what the impact of the right-of-way on City Park Road will be.

“Nobody wants to be up against City Park Road, but nobody wants a 50-foot driveway, either,” he said.

Lavani made a substitute motion to approve staff’s recommendation, seconded by Commissioner Dustin Breithaupt. The motion failed to pass with a vote of 5-3-1, with Duncan, Chair Thomas Weber and Commissioner Ana Aguirre dissenting and Denkler abstaining.

Weber then called the question for the original motion, and it also failed to pass with a vote of 4-4-1, with Rojas, Evans, Breithaupt and Commissioner Yvette Flores dissenting and Lavani abstaining. Commissioners Jolene Kiolbassa and Betsy Greenberg were absent.

As a result, the case will go to City Council with no recommendation from the commission.

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