Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

Hyde Park variance no-show flops at BoA

Though there are no guarantees for getting a variance at the Board of Adjustment, a recent Hyde Park case proved one thing for sure: You might want to show up.

David Rudick, the owner of 4008 Ave. C, was not present at the meeting. However, he was requesting a variance to decrease the minimum lot size required from 7,000 square feet to 5,964 square feet in order to construct a two-story, 850-square-foot accessory dwelling unit.

“If they really thought they had a chance for the pig to fly, I think they would have been here to defend their case,” said Board Member Michael Von Ohlen.

Though there wasn’t any open dissent on this point, Board Member Eric Goff said that he was concerned the owner was not present at the meeting. Goff pushed for a postponement instead, but that motion failed. Board members instead voted unanimously to deny the variance.

Though Rudick did not show up, at least half a dozen neighbors that opposed the variance did. Karen McGraw, who is on the city’s Planning Commission and one of the people who worked on the Neighborhood Conservation Combining District that guides development in Hyde Park, spoke first.

McGraw said there was no hardship in the case. She explained the lot size was typical for the neighborhood, and plans for building another house were just not allowed.

“They are actually asking for something that other people do not enjoy in the neighborhood,” said McGraw, who noted the owners had vowed to maintain the historic character of the century-old house at the Historic Landmark Commission.

McGraw said that the owners had told the neighborhood they were allowed to build three units under the current zoning, but needed a variance to build two units. That, she explained, was not true. She also noted that the current building plan had not been vetted by the Historic Landmark Commission, as was required.

Neighbor Wanda Penn, who introduced herself as a former Board of Adjustment member, said the hardships in the case were more like a “wish list.” She told the board that added runoff from more construction would exacerbate flooding in the neighborhood.

In the end, board members were not swayed by the (written) arguments for the variance, given the fact that the new construction was explicitly prohibited by the NCCD, which was in place well before Rudick purchased the property.

“They knew the size of the lot when they bought it, they knew what was going to be there. It doesn’t sit well with me,” said Von Ohlen. “They knew what they were getting into when they purchased it.”

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

City of Austin Board of Adjustment: The city's Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body that decides on variances, special exceptions and can issue interpretations of code.

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association: Hyde Park is defined by West 38 Street to the south, West 51 Street to the north, Duval Street to the east, and Guadalupe Street to the west. Hyde Park contains two historic districts, the Hyde Park Historic District and the Shadow Lawn Historic District, and several other individual historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Neighborhood Conservation Combining District: Preserves and protects older neighborhoods by allowing modifications to applicable development regulations in accordance with a neighborhood plan while allowing for controlled growth to occur. An NCC District clearly defines boundaries separating residential uses from commercial uses, and sets standards for redevelopment that is compatible with the unique character of the neighborhood.

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