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Downtown Commission says CodeNEXT needs more density

Friday, May 18, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

The Downtown Commission is the latest citizens’ body to officially roast CodeNEXT as the controversial Land Development Code rewrite tumbles down the final stretch before official City Council consideration. On Wednesday night, the commission passed a recommendation damning the effort for falling short of principles outlined in both the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan and the 2011 Downtown Austin Plan. “With space at a premium, CodeNEXT needs to take advantage of available space to maximize the density of downtown without placing additional regulations on development which discourage density,” the recommendation reads. Commissioner Chris Kanipe introduced the draft recommendation as the fruits of the commission’s CodeNEXT working group, which had determined through research and conversations with stakeholders that the most recent version of the proposed code makes dense development easier in areas such as the Domain and Robinson Ranch than in downtown. “There are already a bunch of restrictions. We have a small downtown. We are hindered by Capitol views in many respects,” Kanipe said. “Which is great, but if we are already removing that much buildable area, we don’t need to be limiting it in other places.” Commissioner August Harris, who wasn’t at the meeting, had sent along his own draft resolution for the commission’s consideration. That version simply condemned the latest draft of CodeNEXT for falling short of Imagine Austin and the downtown plan, but offered no recommendations for improvement. Ultimately, the commission amended Kanipe’s proposal to feature some of Harris’ language and approved the recommendation with unanimous support of all members present.

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