Thursday, November 21, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

Council makes first move for Tarrytown food truck zoning case

David Kanne, the owner of a Tarrytown multifamily residential lot, wants to build a family-friendly play area with a food truck over what today is a filled-in pool and patio on an underused corner of his property at 2401 Winsted Lane.

Many neighborhood residents are eager to have a new place to eat and relax, but City Council is moving forward slowly with the necessary zoning change, due to lingering concerns and opposition from some members of the West Austin Neighborhood Group.

Council approved the zoning change from Multifamily Residence Low Density-Neighborhood Plan (MF-2-NP) to Neighborhood Commercial-Mixed Use-Neighborhood Plan (LR-MU-NP) on first reading Thursday, but postponed any action on another item to amend the Central West Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan to reflect that change.

The zoning request and the neighborhood plan amendment will likely return to Council on Dec. 5. Whether or not it passes on that date, Council will need to approve both simultaneously in order for the zoning request to be granted.

The property’s current multifamily zoning is out of sync with the plan’s Future Land Use Map. The map designates the site as single-family use and will need to be updated to Neighborhood Mixed Use to accommodate plans to operate a food truck on-site.

That amendment, according to Mike Cannatti of the West Austin Neighborhood Group contact team, would be an unwarranted contradiction to the vision and principles of the neighborhood plan. Cannatti rejected the idea of allowing commercial use on the site, noting that the property’s location just west of MoPac Expressway makes it among the most affordable residential properties in the neighborhood.

Kanne, however, entered into a private restrictive covenant Thursday morning that reflects and reinforces the proposed conditional overlay. The covenant prohibits him from tearing down any of the 11 residential units on the site while also limiting the restaurant land use to 5,850 square feet, limiting the height of any temporary restaurant structures to 15 feet and prohibiting all commercial uses other than a food truck or similar non-permanent restaurant. It would also allow no more than two food trucks on-site.

That covenant, explained Amanda Swor of the Drenner Group, who is representing the applicant, is tied to the property and not its current owner, meaning the restrictions would hold even if the site were to be sold in the future.

Kanne’s plans, or lack thereof, for recently purchased adjacent properties also caused a fuss Thursday. Kanne owns the property directly to the north of 2401 Winsted Lane and another property on the other side of the street.

“These are very sophisticated commercial residential developers,” said Blake Tollett with the West Austin Neighborhood Group. Suggesting that Kanne has plans beyond the single food truck concept, Tollett said this zoning case is the “proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.”

Kanne rejected the accusation that he was sneaking anything past Council or the public. Both adjacent properties, he said, are zoned as Family Residence (SF-3) and could not be dedicated to commercial or any other use without a typical zoning change request. In addition, one of those properties came with a restrictive covenant prohibiting commercial use.

If the food truck and play area become really popular, Kanne said, the property to the north could serve as additional parking, although there are currently 16 parking spaces on the site in addition to the 18 spaces required for the 11 residents.

A Tarrytown resident himself, Kanne said he simply hopes to make the neighborhood a better and more walkable place, despite claims from numerous Tarrytown residents that the site’s location at the intersection of Winsted Lane and Windsor Road is not a suitable walking environment.

Grace Fletcher, a resident of 2401 Winsted and member of the West Austin Neighborhood Group, disagreed with those claims. As someone who frequently walks around the neighborhood and passes by that intersection, Fletcher said she has never encountered a traffic situation that made her feel unsafe on foot.

On the other hand, she said, the neighborhood has no place like this for families and children to play and eat. “Locations that do provide this amenity are either too far north or south and are not worth the fight in traffic.”

Before making a motion of approval of the zoning request, Council Member Alison Alter said she would have preferred an option in the city’s Land Development Code to use a conditional use permit or other tool that could easily be revoked if the new use caused the kinds of problems some residents predict.

Alter’s motion passed with Council Member Kathie Tovo voting no and Council Member Leslie Pool abstaining.

Map courtesy of Google Maps.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

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