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Board of Adjustment questions ‘house for a car’

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

On occasion, portions of the city code that are intended to regulate one issue end up becoming a loophole for another. “I’ve never seen (the code) exploited the way you are or the way your architect is (exploiting it),” Chair William Burkhardt said at the Nov. 9 meeting of the Board of Adjustment, referring to a variance case involving a lot in Hyde Park. Years ago, the lot was subdivided into a space too small for an ADU, but nevertheless, the owner wants to construct a new, detached, two-car garage with second-floor living space. The idea of constructing a living unit and labeling it a garage rankled board members. Ben Reid, who owns the property at 4214 Avenue B, explained that his “number-one priority is a garage,” and that if the commissioners were amenable to the idea he would forgo the living unit. The case was eventually postponed until the board’s next meeting. While the board members agreed that removing the living quarters would improve the likelihood of granting a variance, Board Member Rahm McDaniel lamented that amid Austin’s housing shortage, “we can find a house for a car, but not for people to live in.”

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