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ZAP recommends mixed-use zoning along Lakeline Boulevard over neighbors’ objections

Tuesday, October 11, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

Despite objections from several neighbors, the Zoning and Platting Commission recommended a rezoning Tuesday that could bring a mixed-use development to Lakeline Boulevard. 

The property in question at 2610½ S. Lakeline Blvd. straddles the boundary between Austin and Cedar Park. The property owner hopes to rezone the 3.2-acre Austin tract to Community Commercial-Mixed Use (GR-MU) in order to build apartments and a mix of other uses. Current plans show townhomes on the Cedar Park tract. The project, as currently envisioned, would lead to about 80 new residential units. 

Victoria Haase, representing the property owner, said GR-MU zoning would allow more residential units and less restrictive site development standards. A less intensive option – tacking a mixed-use designation to the site’s existing Neighborhood Commercial (LR) zoning – would lead to half the number of units, according to Haase.

Several neighbors who spoke against the rezoning expressed concern over the  development’s impact on property values, the loss of open space, infringement upon a critical water quality zone, and additional traffic in the Riviera Springs neighborhood.

“This project is not appropriate at all and it’s being imposed upon our neighborhood with no regard to our safety, our quiet enjoyment, or our property value,” Debbie Loesch said. 

Haase responded that the new development, and multifamily development generally, “does not equate to unsafe conditions or a decrease in property values.”

The current iteration of the project includes townhomes, apartments and a mix of other uses. Image by Thrower Design via city of Austin.

Another neighbor, Trey Neinast, said “neighbors would prefer that no development happen on this land at all.” Neinast and other neighbors said they enjoyed the undeveloped property because it provides a habitat for wildlife and a buffer from cars and development on Lakeline Boulevard. However, they also complained about a homeless encampment on the tract. 

A key concern among neighbors is additional cars driving through the neighborhood. “Already, cars and trucks are speeding through this little enclave, sometimes at 60 or 70 miles an hour past my house every day,” Loesch said. 

Haase argued that the rezoning would actually ease neighbors’ concerns about traffic. She explained that the denser zoning would incentivize the property owner to request an environmental variance needed to put a driveway onto Lakeline Boulevard. Without the zoning change, Haase said vehicles would only have access to Riviera Drive.

While the driveway onto Lakeline would infringe on a critical water quality zone, city code allows developers to shift the CWQZ to accommodate driveways, as long as the area of the CWQZ does not decrease. Commissioners had concerns about the infringement into the CWQZ, but agreed that the rezoning would ease neighbors’ traffic concerns.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend City Council approve the requested GR-MU zoning. A Council date has not yet been set.

Photo caption: A view of the tract from Lakeline Boulevard. Photo by Google Maps.

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