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Domain on Riverside vote pushed back one month

Friday, September 20, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

Scheduled for third and final reading Thursday, the zoning request for the so-called Domain on Riverside has now been dragged out another four weeks. This time, however, it was the applicant, not Council or the community, that held up the vote. On Aug. 8, Council chose to vote only on first reading, with Council Member Greg Casar making the case that it would be disrespectful and inequitable to pass such a large project in one meeting. At its next meeting, Aug. 22, Council was prepared to vote on both second and third reading, but with a final vote of 6-5 in favor of the request, still lacked the support necessary to approve the item on both readings (passing an item on multiple readings requires at least seven votes). If previous votes are any indication, Council would have wrapped up the zoning request Thursday, had the applicant not asked for more time to finalize paperwork on the promised restrictive covenants, one element of the applicant’s dedication to helping current residents of the 4700 Riverside site. Needing only signatures, the applicant’s representative, Michael Whellan, proposed Council’s next meeting, Oct. 3, for the final vote. With votes about evenly split on the item, however, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison cited other obligations on that date and got support to push back the vote to the following meeting, Oct. 17, when she would be present. In the meantime, Council Member Pio Renteria urged the community – particularly the organization Defend Our Hoodz – to argue its case without resorting to intimidation tactics. Renteria denounced the group’s appearance at his home Wednesday night, saying the demonstration was disrespectful. “I embrace these young people because I love the young people that come to Austin with the new ideas,” he said. “But when they come down there and threaten me and my wife and scare my dog, you know, and sit out there for an hour and a half with a loud bullhorn, intimidating me and my neighbors, I find that very offensive. You come down here and say you’re representing the hood, but at the same time you are running people out of my neighborhood.”

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