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Monday, December 14, 2020 by Daniel Salazar

Council approves church land use, zoning requests

City Council has granted initial approval to a series of land use and zoning changes for the David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in the Chestnut neighborhood of East Austin.

The church, located at 2211 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., owns and occupies several tracts near the intersection of East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Chestnut Avenue, but intends to move the congregation to a new location.

The application was to change the future land use map of several tracts from a mix of public and neighborhood planning (P-NP) and single-family zoning to mixed use, which was in line with staffers’ recommendation and the Planning Commission’s vote.

The applicant initially asked for General Commercial Services-Mixed Use-Vertical-Neighborhood Plan (CS-MU-V-NP) zoning for all three tracts. Staff granted that request for tracts #1 and #3 along MLK with a conditional overlay to prohibit uses such as adult-oriented businesses, automotive sales and repairs, vehicle storage and pawn shops.

For tract #4, a parking lot along Chestnut Avenue, staff recommended Limited Office (LO-MU-CO-NP) zoning with a prohibition of medical offices exceeding 5,000 square feet. But the applicant responded with an amended request for Community Commercial (GR-MU-V-NP) zoning with a conditional overlay regulating lot size, building coverage, height, setback, and floor area ratio.

At a Planning Commission presentation on Tuesday, Husch Blackwell’s Nikelle Meade, acting on behalf of the applicant, said they strongly disagreed with Limited Office zoning for tract #4.

“People are not signing up for offices right now,” she pointed out. “We think rezoning tract #4 to all office is really ill-conceived at this time.”

Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison motioned to approve the future land use map request and all the zoning changes requested by the applicant, which meant Community Commercial zoning for tract #4.

The changes were unanimously approved on first reading.

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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.

City of Austin Planning Commission: This commission addresses issues of land use as assigned to it by Austin's City Code. These include the abilities "[t]o make and amend a master plan, recommend approval or disapproval of proposed zoning changes and control land subdivision within neighborhood planning areas and submit, annually, a list of recommended capital improvements." It has sovereign authority, or the right to make final decisions on certain cases.

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