Thursday, July 9, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Goodnight Ranch working on PUD amendment, adds extra parkland

Goodnight Ranch, a planned unit development off Slaughter Lane in Southeast Austin, was originally approved in 2006. Fourteen years later, the neighborhood’s developers are looking to amend the PUD in order to create a municipal management district, add additional permitted land uses and increase the development entitlements.

The city of Austin originally granted the 695-acre property entitlements to develop 3,533 residential units along with 250,000 square feet of commercial and office space, which required that the developers allocate 65 acres of parkland along with a development fee for the residential units. Now, the developers are offering 120 acres of parkland and the associated development fees in exchange for the city granting an amendment that would increase the residential units by 2,550 units and the commercial space by 250,000 square feet.

In addition to 120 guaranteed acres, Scott Grantham, a planner with the Parks and Recreation Department, told the parks board at its June 24 meeting that the developer is considering allocating a further 30-40 acres of public park space.

Myra Goepp, the vice president of development for Goodnight Ranch, sai d that 120 acres of parkland is “our minimum” and that “at the end of the day, we’ll be exceeding that 120 (acres).” Austin city code requires 130 acres of public parkland for the number of residential units the developer is requesting in the amendment. Goepp noted that the developer has not yet identified the supplemental space that will comprise this additional parkland but that the three hills on the property are good candidates.

Besides the parkland acreage on the actual development, Goodnight Ranch formed an independently funded municipal management district in 2014 to open the development’s parks to the public. A municipal management district functions like a Municipal Utility District where property tax revenues and user fees received from water and sewer services operated by the MUD are used to repay the debt to the city that financed the infrastructure. After the debt is repaid, taxes can finance additional services such as parks. In the case of Goodnight Ranch, Grantham said the development will funnel tax revenue into maintaining the parks within the PUD in addition to Onion Creek Metropolitan Park. The maintenance schedule includes the installation of several miles of trails, including a 3-mile loop around the development with the intention of eventually connecting to the metropolitan park trails.

While the parkland superiority for the site was based on the 2006 code, for the amendment request Goodnight Ranch is updating several of the water quality and environmental attributes to meet current code. Within the site, the undisturbed area under the amended PUD proposal jumps from 5.8 acres to 49.9; the Heritage Tree Ordinance and tree mitigation requirements will apply to the trees on-site; and the critical water quality zones will be updated. Overall water quality on the site will conform to current ordinances.

As the 65 acres of parkland that the developer previously committed to was private, Chair Dawn Lewis emphasized that the new commitment to 120 acres also transforms the parks into public amenities. “We have a dearth of parkland in that area, and I’d like to make sure that people who live in Dove Springs and over in that area understand that this is parkland for them as well,” she said.

The parks board unanimously recommended the amendment to the PUD as it pertains to the parkland superiority.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Municipal Utility Districts: A special-purpose district that provides public utilities. There are different MUDS for different neighborhoods.

Parks and Recreation Board: The city’s Parks and Recreation Board members deal with the acquisition, development, improvement, and maintenance of Austin’s parks and playgrounds.

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

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