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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Monday, September 25, 2017 by Jo Clifton
Injunction granted over Champion tract site plan
Under an injunction issued Friday, the city of Austin may not move forward with issuing a site plan for a multifamily development on City Park Road at FM 2222 until there is a final judgment in the lawsuit filed by neighbors.
In that lawsuit, a neighborhood group called the Lake Austin Collective Inc. alleged that the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when Council approved a zoning change for property known as the Champion tract in November 2016.
Council approved the rezoning on a vote of 7-4 with Council members Sheri Gallo, Leslie Pool, Ann Kitchen and Ora Houston voting in opposition. Gallo has since been replaced by Council Member Alison Alter, but Alter would likely oppose the zoning change also if given the chance to vote on it.
The neighbors said that, because the Council agenda failed to notify them that Council would be approving waivers of the Lake Austin Watershed Ordinance and the Hill Country Roadway Ordinance, Council’s action should be declared void.
That case is set for trial on Oct. 5 on motions for summary judgment filed by both the plaintiff neighborhood group and the city.
Attorney Bill Aleshire represents the Lake Austin Collective. Aleshire told the Austin Monitor via email, “While the case is pending, my clients first got a notice from City staff that they were processing a site plan for the development for administrative approval that would, in effect, implement the disputed waivers,” as if the lawsuit were not pending.
“After we pointed out that the Site Plan requires (land use commission) approval,” Aleshire added, “the staff backed off and sent a new notice last week that the Site Plan would be submitted to the (land use commission).” That means it will go before either the Zoning and Platting Commission or the Planning Commission.
District Judge Gisela Triana signed the order on Friday prohibiting the city from “granting or otherwise issuing final approval by the Austin City Council, City Commissions or City staff for any site plan,” for the property at 6409 City Park Road.
Aleshire won a similar case for Brian Rodgers, who sued over similar allegations concerning the open meetings act related to the Pilot Knob subdivision.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
City of Austin Planning Commission: This commission addresses issues of land use as assigned to it by Austin's City Code. These include the abilities "[t]o make and amend a master plan, recommend approval or disapproval of proposed zoning changes and control land subdivision within neighborhood planning areas and submit, annually, a list of recommended capital improvements." It has sovereign authority, or the right to make final decisions on certain cases.
City of Austin Zoning and Platting Commission: The City of Austin's Zoning and Platting Commission addresses issues of land use as assigned to it by Austin's City Code. It has sovereign authority, or the right to make final decisions on certain cases.