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South Austin multifamily project gets ZAP approval, Council postponement

Thursday, December 17, 2020 by Daniel Salazar

The Zoning and Platting Commission has recommended multifamily zoning for a project at 10304 Old San Antonio Road in South Austin. But City Council will not take up the case until next year amid questions about traffic safety and flooding.

Wendy Rhoades with the Housing and Planning Department said at the ZAP meeting in early December that the roughly 14-acre tract has had interim Rural Residence (RR) zoning since it was annexed in 1997. The property is just to the north of the Akins High School campus.

The applicant wanted to rezone the property to Multifamily Residence-Medium Density (MF-3) to develop about 197 dwelling units. However, Rhoades said the applicant was “agreeable” to a staff recommendation for Multifamily Residence-Low Density (MF-2) zoning for the property instead.

Rhoades said MF-2 was recommended because of the zoning map and existing land uses in the area.

Laci Ehlers, acting on behalf of the applicant, said the proposed project would be a low-density multifamily project consisting of three-story buildings with one- and two-bedroom units. Garages will be directly connected to residential units.

“Residents will also benefit from a full recreational amenity package, including (a) pool, workout facility and dog park,” Ehlers said.

The property’s adjacent location to the Slaughter Creek Greenbelt would allow the opportunity for “plenty of open space,” she added.

Ehlers said the northwest portion of the property sits in a floodplain, so setbacks and buffers will be included in the project’s layout.

Ehlers said the property will continue to have access to Interstate 35 frontage roads and FM 1626. She added that the applicant will also construct sidewalks along the frontage of the property on Old San Antonio Road and will work with the Austin Transportation Department during the site plan process for traffic mitigation improvements.

“This project will help improve connectivity in the area,” she said.

Amber Mitchell with the Transportation Department said urban trail improvements near the project are currently unfunded. Mitchell added that right-of-way will be required for dedication.

Commissioner Timothy Bray said he was concerned about the lack of sidewalks near the property.

Commissioner David King questioned how many families with children would be able to live in the one- and two-bedrooms of the project due to its location near a high school.

“I’m also concerned that … the transportation infrastructure is just not there yet for this type of development,” King added, referring to the proximity to the school. “I’m just torn about the lack of transit infrastructure here.”

Commissioners and staffers also discussed a low-water crossing near the proposed project.

Zoning and Platting commissioners ultimately recommended MF-2 zoning on the property by a 10-1 margin, with King opposed.

“I can understand the hesitation on … adding units to a substandard road that has flooded, but they’ve done the right things they need to do to ensure the safety (and) the access,” said Commissioner Ann Denkler, who motioned approval of the staff recommendation.

During the City Council work session on Dec. 8, Council Member Ann Kitchen said more time was needed to work out flooding and traffic safety issues with the project.

“There’s been no communication with Akins school, which is impacted from a safety perspective, right next to this development. So I’m going to be asking for a postponement,” said Kitchen, whose district includes the property.

At Council’s Dec. 10 meeting, the rezoning ordinance for the project was postponed to Jan. 27.

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