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Planning Commission supports North Austin townhome project

Monday, October 31, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

The Planning Commission recommended a rezoning Tuesday for a townhome project in North Austin amid objections from several neighbors.

The property in question is a 5.5-acre tract at 10600 Jonwood Way. The owner hopes to rezone the property from Single Family-Standard Lot (SF-2) to Townhouse & Condominium Residence (SF-6) zoning in order to build about 10 townhomes. The rezoning is part of a plan to build 30 more units on an adjacent property, which is already zoned SF-6. 

One neighbor spoke against the rezoning, and several others objected in writing. Cristina Vudhiwat said she was concerned about increased traffic on Jonwood Way and the fact that the units are going to be for rent instead of for sale. 

“That they’re gonna be kind of like an investment property and just rented out – that also kind of saddened us,” Vudhiwat said, “because I think we all acknowledge there’s an affordability issue and people are looking to buy homes.”

Amanda Brown, representing the property owner, responded, “We do need more homes for people to be able to purchase, but this is a piece of that puzzle as well.” 

If the zoning change is not approved, Brown said the tract would have three or four larger and far more expensive homes.

In response to traffic concerns, Brown said the property owner had hoped to provide emergency-only access onto Jonwood Way. The Transportation Department, however, prefers unrestricted vehicle access onto Jonwood. Either way, Dessau Road would be the main ingress and egress for the new homes.

Commissioner Awais Azhar said that allowing vehicle access to Jonwood might actually benefit current residents. “We really should maintain those connections, and I think this is a good opportunity to link the neighborhood to Dessau and actually allow an entire other ingress and egress.”  

The commission voted 9-0-1 to recommend approval of SF-6 zoning. Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido abstained from the vote due to concerns about the potential prices of the units relative to what homes in the surrounding neighborhood go for. 

“Stand-alone, it’s a great project,” Llanes Pulido said. “It also is part of the rapid economic displacement in the housing market, and the precedent it sets has an impact on people who currently live in our most affordable neighborhoods.”

City Council is set to hear the case on Dec. 1.

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