Tuesday, February 26, 2019 by Alyx Wilson

ZAP unanimously approves Keilbar Lane rezone

The Zoning and Platting Commission granted its blessing to a new condominium development at 1903 Keilbar Lane during their Jan. 29 meeting.

The applicant, Michael Winningham, hopes to build up to seven condominium units which he said he believes are compatible with the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. Winningham also owns the adjacent property at 1905 Keilbar Lane, which was already rezoned previously to SF-6 (Townhouse & Condominium Residence). Combined, the two lots will ultimately be home to between 15 and 17 structures, according to staffers.

Traffic concerns were raised by neighbor Ben Hulan.

“We have a bit of a Frogger situation,” Hulan said, in a reference to the classic video game.

Commissioner Nadia Barrera-Ramirez agreed.

“I just want to say that this section of Manchaca, which is basically a seven-lane freeway, 90 feet wide with a 45 mph speed limit, is ridiculous,” said Barrera-Ramirez. “One crash is too many in my opinion.”

The stretch of Manchaca Road has 1.1 miles between two traffic lights at Dittmar Road and Matthews Lane. Barrera-Ramirez said she felt that cars can pick up a lot of speed in that distance, and noted that Keilbar sits along that stretch.

Hulan and Winningham both used the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Information System to search the number of accidents within the 300- to 400-foot span around Keilbar Lane. Hulan’s CRIS query found 12 accidents since 2014, while Winningham’s came up with three.

Winningham said he did not know of anything that could be done during the zoning process to address the issue, since Manchaca Road is controlled by TxDOT.

Planning and Zoning Department staffer Wendy Rhoades explained that if townhouse and condominium development zoning was approved and a site plan was filed, TxDOT would be a part of the review. At that time TxDOT would recommend any improvements it deemed necessary, but Rhoades said she did not know if any substantial improvements would be made in the general vicinity.

Barrera-Ramirez said that TxDOT shares the “one crash is a crash too many” vision, and looks forward to the neighborhood, the applicant and TxDOT working together toward a new and improved intersection.

Commissioner David King had originally pulled the case due to his concern about a mobile home that had previously sat on the lot, saying Council had passed a resolution in October to help protect mobile homes.

“Council is really interested in trying to preserve affordable housing for low-income families, and mobile homes are a part of that mixture,” King said, explaining his concern that the former resident had been involuntarily displaced.

Winningham said that the previous owner had come to him hoping to move when they were in the process of rezoning the adjacent property to SF-6. “That was important to me too, that we didn’t displace anybody,” he said.

“I appreciate the idea that we want to be able to protect the zones of mobile homes and allow for affordability to occur,” said Commissioner Sunil Lavani, before motioning to approve staff’s recommendation.

“I wouldn’t be able to appreciate a single mobile home that may be on an almost 2-acre site that could allow for a great opportunity to have SF-6 zoning in an area of town that is needed for housing that is market affordable,” Lavani said.

The commission approved the motion unanimously.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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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.

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