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Thursday, April 5, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Grove PUD plan postponed

The Grove at Shoal Creek Planned Unit Development was back at City Hall for a moment this week. This time, the Zoning and Platting Commission postponed approval of its preliminary plan, with some commissioners citing unanswered questions about the plan, which was submitted well over a year ago.

City Council approved the Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning in December 2016 after months of deliberation at City Hall during often-heated public hearings. Attorney Jeff Howard, who was representing the developers, told commissioners that he believed the review of the preliminary plan had been detailed, lengthy and thorough, and it was time to move forward.

Howard explained that the approval was for what he called “lines on a map” – in other words, the plan is for subdivision, not a permit to build. He assured commissioners that any questions they had could be answered by the team of engineers, land planners and developers he had with him or by the city’s Parks and Recreation, Transportation and Development Services staff that was also at the meeting.

He also reminded the commission that, under state and local statutes, it was required to approve preliminary plans that meet regulations. In this case, city staff had determined the preliminary plan is up to code.

“The preliminary plan was actually pending before PUD approval. But since PUD approval, it’s been 16 months under review,” said Howard. “That is unusually long. Probably three times as long for a review of a preliminary plan than you see in a typical situation.”

“We have been doing a lot in the last 16 months. We’ve executed a parkland improvement agreement; we’ve executed the affordable housing agreement; we’ve conducted a master park plan public process … and we’ve submitted construction plans,” he said. “All of these things have been considered in reviewing the preliminary plan.”

However, former Bull Creek Road Coalition President Sara Speights asked for a postponement. She told the commission that there were outstanding, unresolved issues around a detention pond, right of way and lot lines. She worried that if they weren’t resolved prior to plan approval, it would be too late.

In particular, Speights questioned why an overflow area for the detention pond was being given a 100 percent credit as parkland, instead of the normal 50 percent. Randy Scott, park development coordinator with the Parks and Recreation Department, told the commission that city legal had endorsed the “extended detention” area as credited, and the parks department had signed off on the parkland included in the development – 705 linear feet of street frontage and 14.48 acres of parkland.

Howard said the issues raised by neighbors had been discussed and there were no platting issues that needed further discussion.

Commissioner Ann Denkler moved to postpone the case, citing some issues that had not been addressed by speakers advocating for a postponement. She said that she wanted written documentation – not just assurances by staff and Howard – that right of way issues had been resolved. She also had questions about sidewalks, an access agreement for the cul-de-sac, a drainage easement and flood plains.

“I want the preliminary plan to be done right,” said Denkler, who clarified that she believed staff had done the approval incorrectly.

Commissioners voted 6-3 to postpone the case until May 15, with commissioners Abigail Tatkow, Bruce Evans and Yvette Flores voting in opposition to the postponement.

Map courtesy of the city of Austin.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

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.

Planned Unit Development: A zoning classification designated by the city to allow greater flexibility for projects within its boundaries.

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