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Zoning and Platting Commission recommends Circuit of the Americas PUD

Monday, August 24, 2020 by Nina Hernandez

At its meeting Tuesday, the Zoning and Platting Commission unanimously recommended – with staff members’ caveats – the Circuit of the Americas planned unit development. The commission would like staffers to track the impervious cover on the site and ensure an arborist maintains the site’s trees for at least three years.

“We really have to compliment the applicant, the neighborhood, the staff – I’ve never seen a PUD come through as smoothly as this one has,” Commissioner Ann Denkler said.

Circuit of the Americas LLC is asking City Council to change the zoning from Interim Rural Residence (I-RR) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). That would allow the owners to expand the 1,153-acre parcel, which is located east of State Highway 130 and north of Farm to Market 812, from a racetrack and concert venue into a residential and retail development.

The Parks and Recreation Board and Environmental Commission also gave the project recommendations earlier this year. The proposed PUD, divided into eight sections, would include 967 acres of commercial space and 186 acres of mixed-use area. The land use plan includes 298 acres of open space dispersed throughout the site, in addition to 11 acres of parkland. The applicant is proposing General Commercial Services (CS) as the baseline district zoning for the PUD.

Staffers recommend the PUD with a few conditions, which include complying with environmental staff recommendations, developing the PUD according to a transportation impact analysis and paying a fee-in-lieu for any bonus area developed in the PUD.

“The PUD would bring new businesses, jobs and needed services to the area, and that’s something a lot of people out here have been looking for out here for quite some time,” said Michele Lynch, who is representing the applicant. She said the applicant has been working with the surrounding neighborhoods and there are no major questions or concerns at this time.

Patricia King, a resident of Del Valle, agreed. “Where most communities have density, we don’t have density,” she said. “We’re lacking basic services like food, health services, roads, and transportation. So we feel that the planned unit development would be a supporter and assist in the creation of these much-needed basic services.”

Commissioner James Duncan said he hadn’t realized COTA was zoned I-RR and that it’s the wrong zoning for the site. PUD zoning, he said, is a perfect fit. “So we’re just getting around to it 10 years later,” he concluded.

Commissioner Ana Aguirre tweaked the recommendation to include the applicant’s hiring of a certified arborist who will oversee the planting of trees on the site for a period of three years.

Denkler said she’s not usually a fan of PUDs because she isn’t sure the community benefits are always worth the huge investment in staff time. This one, however, is different. “What I was seeing is community benefits that were substantial,” she said. “The applicant didn’t just take the low-hanging fruit.”

Just about every applicant, she said, comes in with an integrated pest management plan. “But this is a proposal where we were using reclaimed water, we were restoring much more of the vegetation, we are 100 percent green infrastructure.”

Photo by Steve from Austin, TX, USA/CC BY-SA 2.o.

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