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Tuesday, October 16, 2018 by Alyx Wilson
ZAP recommends driveway at South Chisholm Trail
After several years of debate on what to do with the two lots on the corner of Slaughter Lane and South Chisholm Trail, a deal has been struck. Jim Wittliff, representing the property owner Mario Solis, presented the compromise for the property at 9401 South Chisholm Trail to the Zoning and Platting Commission at its Oct. 2 meeting.
“I’m here today to try and give them what they want, but I’m forcing the city to accept the driveway access on Slaughter Lane,” Wittliff explained.
Wittliff said that as soon as the lot in question was rezoned from single-family residence to limited office mixed use with a conditional overlay, he would file a joint access easement for a driveway between the two lots off of Slaughter. The plan was to push the joint-access Slaughter Lane driveway as far away from the intersection as possible, but still line it up with the singular driveway that already exists there.
“I hope when we do a site plan, City Council will have an ordinance prohibiting driveway access to Chisholm Trail, and we’ll take our driveway access to Slaughter Lane just like I promised from the beginning,” Wittliff said.
Commissioner Nadia Barrera-Ramirez raised concerns over the traffic on Slaughter Lane.
“The road has median down the middle of it, so I’m concerned about this westbound traffic that will need to make a U-turn, possibly in front of buses that are heading eastbound on Slaughter to then turn into that driveway,” said Barrera-Ramirez.
Transportation Department staff member Upal Barua addressed safety concerns.
“With driveways on a major road like Slaughter, you have people driving up to 45 miles an hour, and in order to pull into a driveway you have to slow down to between 10 and 15 miles per hour,” said Barua. “So that creates a speed differential and increases safety issues. Therefore the recommendation from the Transportation Department would be to deny that access off Slaughter Lane.”
Wittliff explained that even though the two lots in question were owned by the same person, the lots would not be combined, so technically the applicant had the legal right to put the driveway where they wanted on Slaughter Lane. “This will be a joint-use driveway that is in place of an already existing driveway that is there instead of two driveways.”
“I am one of the neighbors of Chisholm Trail; we’re 14 homes on a dead-end street,” said Dawn Wilson. “We’re here tonight to agree to this, but we want to make sure, we want a reassurance, that they are not able to come back in a future rezoning application through mixed-use zoning to access Chisholm Trail. We want it permanently closed down to commercial use.”
Wilson said that the street was very narrow and that two cars could not pass at once. “We have to pull over in the grass for each other to get by,” she said. “We don’t want the extra traffic; it takes us a long time to get out on Slaughter.”
“We just want some kind of guarantee that nothing is waiting in the wings for us, and that they are not going to come back with anything other than single-family residence zoning,” Wilson said.
“I’m really happy the way this thing is finishing up. I’ve done hundreds of rezoning cases, and this one has been pretty difficult. But I understand the passion of this neighborhood,” Wittliff said.
Wittliff said the guarantee that he has given the neighborhood in writing says that the property owner will close that driveway permanently and will not take access to Chisholm Trail, and all of that information is part of the backup. Last but not least, when this goes to Council, there will be an ordinance that prohibits access to Chisholm Trail.
“Yeah, it’s true, we could come back in the future and say we want to change this conditional overlay, but I’d rather walk into a den of hungry lions wearing a pork chop suit,” Wittliff said.
Commissioner Sunil Lavani made a motion to approve staff’s recommendation with conditions seconded by Commissioner David King. The motion passed 8-1-1, with Chair Jolene Kiolbassa opposing and Barrera-Ramirez abstaining. Commissioner Abigail Tatkow was absent. The case will move on to Council for a final decision on the plan.
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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.