park centre
Friday, July 20, 2018 by Ryan Young

Views along scenic RM 2222 to remain unspoiled

At the July 9 Board of Adjustment meeting, the board rejected a variance request to adorn a scenic roadway with a monument.

Park Centre, an office park located at 8601 RM 2222, sought to construct an additional “monument sign” for a second driveway to the property. Because that stretch of RM 2222 is a scenic roadway, current code only allows for one free-standing sign. According to the variance application, the second sign would have been about 12 feet tall and would have been shaped like the logo of Park Centre, which is composed of three interconnected and overlapping parallelograms.

Making the case for the variance, Matt Park – who represented KBS Properties, Park Centre’s owners, at the hearing – said the property covers more than 32 acres, fronts RM 2222 for more than 2,000 linear feet and contains six distinct buildings. “Traffic traveling at high speeds and stopping suddenly to enter the property could be a safety issue,” he said, and “visibility is an issue because the property has a lot of natural foliage and buildings.”

Park said clients and companies had trouble finding Park Centre without landmarks to direct them, even though a traffic signal marks the property’s main driveway, and American and Texas flags are flown prominently next to the second driveway. He also argued that “in a normal commercial sign district, a much smaller property would be allowed two free-standing signs.”

Carol Torgrimson, a representative for the 2222 Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, spoke out in opposition to the variance. “I’m not aware of any other properties in our area where a second sign has been granted a variance,” she said. In addition, the Park Centre property sits at the bottom of a long grade, and Torgrimson claimed the Park Centre property is “the only thing you can see” when driving down it. She also pointed out that the main driveway has its own traffic signal.

“We have to challenge the idea that this property is not visible,” Torgrimson said.

“Again, we’re just trying to identify both entrances,” Park responded. “And I believe a second monument is absolutely going to help, as well as not cause anybody any issues.”

Board Member Michael Von Ohlen, who said he was “very very familiar” with the property, opposed the variance. “This is a scenic roadway; it’s one of the last we’ve got in Austin,” he said. “You can see these buildings, you can see the tops of these buildings and you can see the flagpoles. It is as the neighborhood association said – these are the only buildings on that stretch of 2222 from Steiner Ranch all the way down to 360, and so you can’t miss (them).”

Von Ohlen also agreed Park Centre’s traffic light – which he said was constructed because of fatalities in the area – made a second sign redundant. Board Member Brooke Bailey joined in with Von Ohlen’s objections: “If you go to Google Street View, on one of the buildings they have got, in giant letters attached to the building, ‘Park Centre,’ which to me is their second sign,” she said.

“I know the neighborhood association, and I know that they’re very protective of this particular stretch of the roadway,” Von Ohlen said. “And they’ve got a good right to be.”

With that, the board voted unanimously to reject the variance request.

Image courtesy of Google Maps. 

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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.

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