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ZAP supports zoning for 33 townhomes in South Austin

Friday, October 7, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

The Zoning and Platting Commission recommended a rezoning Tuesday for 33 homes in South Austin over the objections of two neighbors. 

The case concerns a 2.7-acre property at 7901 Peaceful Hill Lane. The property owner, represented by Victoria Haase with Thrower Design, plans to rezone the site to Townhouse and Condominium Residence (SF-6) in order to build 33 homes. The site, currently used for car storage, is zoned Development Reserve (DR). 

The two neighbors who spoke said they were generally fine with SF-6 zoning but wanted to see additional design elements. 

Neighbors had already secured concessions from the developer, including a 6-foot wall in front of the new homes. But Haase said the property owner could not agree to other asks, including requiring single-story, standalone homes along Peaceful Hill and a 5-foot setback from the street beyond the 25-foot setback that is required. 

“We need to maintain as much flexibility as possible,” Haase said, adding, “​​I’m not sure why it matters that those units along Peaceful Hill are standalone from the street. They’re going to look the same whether they were by themselves or attached to another unit.” Conceptual plans show almost all attached units. 

John Stokes, one of the neighbors, said the seemingly trivial request is actually consequential when taken in context with much larger development planned on a 41-acre tract next door. 

“We think that if there’s a visual buffer of single units at the front, that’s going to make it really hard for another developer to come along and say, I wanna put up four-story apartment buildings, which is what they’re proposing now,” he said. 

Commissioner Cesar Acosta argued that design considerations, like whether homes are one or two stories, aren’t pertinent to zoning. “Whether or not this is an appropriate type of zoning for the area I think is the main question. And I think it is,” he said. 

Commissioner Jolene Kiolbassa argued for limiting density to 10 units per acre (approximately 27 units) in line with restrictions on nearby properties. “That would be a more comparable and appropriate zoning,” she said.

Kiolbassa motioned to recommend SF-6 with a 10-unit-per-acre density cap and a requirement that homes along Pleasant Hill be one-story. No one seconded her motion. 

The commission then voted unanimously to recommend SF-6 zoning. The case is scheduled at City Council on Oct. 13.

Conceptual site plan via city of Austin.

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