Northwood area fall garage sale Oct 12

The Spring garage sale for Northwood and other neighborhoods at the northwest corner of Parmer and MoPac starts at 8 AM on October 12, rain or shine! We’ll have a map of garage sale addresses here the day of the sale

For neighbors:

We’ll advertise the sale on NextDoor, Facebook and Craig’s’ List. All of those listings will include a link to this post; we’ll add a map with addresses and item categories for sale (ex: children’s clothing, furniture, books).
There is no cost for this, though please consider paying your dues if you haven’t yet done so ($20 for the year). Pay online https://northwoodna.com/about-nna/pay-dues/

Starting in late September, register here by Oct. 11 to have your address included on our map.

General meeting, solar energy systems speaker Oct 1

Join us at the Milwood Library at 6:30 PM on October 1. We’ll cover some current neighborhood topics and then turn the meeting over to a speaker from Austin Energy’s renewable solutions group who will talk about solar energy systems and
answer questions. After completing the course, customers are eligible for a $2,500 rebate to apply toward a qualified solar energy system installation.

Their topics include:

Module I: Introduction

  1. Renewable Energy Subscription Options
  2. Key Vocabulary Terms
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Understanding the Value of Solar Rate

Module II: System Design

  1. Site Selection
  2. Sizing
  3. Equipment

Module III: Shopping for Solar

  1. Comparing Proposals
  2. Federal Tax Credit
  3. Austin Energy Rebate
  4. Choosing a Solar Company
  5. Important Documentation
  6. Additional Resources

Northwood and the City wide new land development code

Watch Zoned Out, a 30 minute documentary on the results of CodeNext  that explores both the practical consequences of upzoning (changing single family zoning to denser multifamily zoning) and the underlying economic and political forces driving the process. It is told through the lives of current residents. If implemented, this new building code will drastically reshape Austin.

The only way citizens can influence this is by contacting their City Council Member and the Mayor to very clearly express their concerns.
Email the Mayor and City Council  https://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members

Background

The rules and regulations – the Land Development Code – that Austin developers must follow have not changed in decades. A couple of years ago the City spent millions to create CodeNext, which was to replace the current LDC; it was eventually rejected by the voters. However, a new – and per the citizens opposition group Community Not Commodity –  a much worse plan is in the works. Their May 15, 2019 blog post CodeNext Replacement Arrives, worse than the original gives the background and their  5/28/19 blog post includes photos of what transition zones could look like eventually.

The majority of the current City Council want more residential density along major roads such as Parmer Lane. If passed, the LDC will completely change residential zoning near these roads to allow multifamily units to be built next to existing single family homes, and additional units on single family lots that are large enough (which includes most of the Northwood lots).

9/1/19 status

On August 29 the Northwood Neighborhood Association Officers and Zoning committee met with Louisa Brinsmade, Zoning and Land Use Policy Advisor for District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool. Ms. Brinsmade shared the latest updates on this plan and she also stated that Council Member Pool opposes this version of the Land Development Code (LDC) but that the majority of Council members prefer this “density” approach. She is meeting with many District 7 neighborhoods to provide information and answer questions.

She shared two documents: the May 2, 2019 Direction in Response to City Manager’s March 15, 2019 Memo re: Land Development Code Revision Policy Guidance (18 page PDF) and an August 28, 2019 set of examples of transition zones (large PDF) from that day’s City Council Special Called Work Session.

Impact on Northwood

This 8 page PDF from Community Not Commodity has questions and answers on the transition zones, mostly from the May 2, 2019 Direction document. Parmer Lane is a transition zone; the MoPac frontage road by Northwood is not a transition zone. Homes that are between 2-5 lots from Parmer may be part of the Parmer Lane transition zone.

Parmer Lane meets the criteria for transition zones (see Transition Zones – what are they? below). Northwood definitely meets one criterion (“high opportunity area”) and maybe two of the four criteria to have part of Northwood designated as transitions zones.  Our streets are definitely not a “well connected grid” and we are not in the urban core.

To be determined: how far in will the transition zone reach? It could be between 2-5 lots, or could be up to 880 ft (1/6 of a mile). This has not yet been finalized.

Transition zone map (per Community Not Commodity)

Affect of transition zone in Northwood

Ms. Brinsmade brought a large map of the NW corner of MoPac to the meeting. We identified the Northwood boundaries and areas of interest for neighbors, such as the green space near St. Francis Anglican Church and at the bend on Silver Creek just north of Oak Creek (the starred areas on the map). Ms. Brinsmade added a dotted line of her possible worst case scenario for which  homes may be in the transition zone.
Robinson Ranch owners are not willing to sell so that is not being considered.

Map of most of Northwood with possible worst case transition zone marked

Map of the entire northwest MoPac corner with Northwood worst-case transition zones marked

Her thoughts on changes:

  • Although the zoning has changed, as long as a house in the transition zone is not razed to the foundation to be rebuilt (excluding due to damage from fire or weather), nothing changes for that house
  • Up to 50% of the house can be remodeled, and it can be sold as a single family home
  • 1-2 additional units can be built on the lot along with the current house
    All lots can have 2 units; if the original structure is kept,  if the impervious cover limit is not exceeded a third unit can be added. Apparently there are no restrictions on parking, which may mean a lot of street parking
  • If the house is demolished, a new single family home cannot be built on that lot; it would require at least 4 multifamily units to be constructed
  • The current 500 year flood plain, which will become the 100 year flood plain when Atlas 14  http://www.austintexas.gov/atlas14 is adopted, will definitely affect (reduce) the possible transition zones. The Council doesn’t want additional homes built in the flood plain
  • At least in the short term, no change in property taxes. However, per a discussion on this in NextDoor (linked below) in the long term the property taxes can be expected to increase: The county has now shifted a higher percentage of home appraisal to land value versus improvements (the house). They actually did this a few years ago. If nearby properties are converted to multi-family, the likelihood of the dirt underneath your home becoming much more valuable is high – higher appraisals, higher taxes.

We discussed the possibility of a developer buying several homes next to Parmer to build a multifamily unit. There’s another restriction which may prevent that: due to the speed limit on Parmer, TxDOT requires the distance between new driveways on Parmer to be about 800-1,000 ft apart. That can definitely affect possible future development.

There will be a District 7 Town Hall meeting (date TBD); we may be able to arrange a general neighborhood meeting with Council Member Pool and/or her staff.

Timeline

These dates are from the 8/28/19 City Council Special Called work session  document

Oct 4, 2019 – revised transition zone maps to be released
Sept 11 – Council Work session
Sept 17 – Council Work session
Oct 26 – Planning Commission Public Hearing
Early Nov – Planning Commission consideration
Mid Nov – Council Public Hearing
Early Dec – City Council First reading

If Council passes this in early 2020, it will most likely take a couple of years to implement; zoning staff will have a huge task ahead of them to identify the details and implement it.

Transition zones – what are they?

Transition zones are areas where (per Community Not Commodity’s July 2, 2019 blog post), the Council wants to end single-family zoning near major roadways – in transition zones – and encourage the demolition of single-family homes to be replaced with multifamily homes. PDF explanation of transition zones including questions and answers

There are 4 criteria that determine transition zones. “Entitlements and length of transition areas should be relatively more or less intense for areas that meet more or fewer of the criteria” (page 11 of the May 2 Direction… to City Manager document):

  1. Located on Transit Priority Network, or Imagine Austin Centers or Corridors
  2. Located within the Urban Core as defined by the Residential Design and Compatibility Standards Area (McMansion Ordinance)
  3. Has a well‐connected street grid
  4. Located in a high opportunity area as defined in the Enterprise Opportunity360 Index

NextDoor discussion topic

Milwood neighbor and long-time Austin activist Ed English posted information about this topic to NextDoor which generated many replies (NextDoor account required). This is worthwhile reading. Some people agree with the plan and explain their reasons why, others oppose it and discuss their reasons.

Resources / what to do

Visit and subscribe to Community not Commodity, the group that opposes this land development code.  visit and follow their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/communitynotcommodity/

Email the Mayor and City Council  https://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members

Attend Planning Commission and City Council meetings

Watch NextDoor and this post for updates

Resources – effects of zoning / parking changes

Effects of minimum parking requirements

Land value tax, the least bad tax

The problems with setbacks

Why Form and Scale Matter in the Missing Middle Housing Conversation

July 4 parade for all neighbors

Attention all neighbors at the northwest corner of Parmer/MoPac (Northwood, The Reserve at Northwood, Preston Oaks, McNeil Estates)

Join Northwood neighbors to celebrate July 4: decorate bikes or wagons, bring flags and meet at Oak Creek Cove (just west of Timberside) at 10:00 AM. We will parade – walk/bike to Manhasset (side street past Silver Creek) where refreshments will be available, courtesy of the Northwood Neighborhood Association.

If you wish to help with this, email northwoodna@gmail.com

Northwood/NW Corner Spring Garage Sale May 4

The Spring garage sale for Northwood and other neighborhoods at the northwest corner of Parmer and MoPac starts at 8 AM on May 4, rain or shine! We’ll have a map of garage sale addresses here  (address link removed).

 

For neighbors:

We’ll advertise the sale on NextDoor, Facebook and Craig’s’ List. All of those listings will include a link to this post; we’ll add a map with addresses and item categories for sale (ex: children’s clothing, furniture, books).
There is no cost for this, though please consider paying your dues if you haven’t yet done so ($20 for the year). Pay online https://northwoodna.com/about-nna/pay-dues/

Register here by May 3 to have your address included on our map.

Easter Egg Hunt April 7

Northwood will be holding this year’s Easter egg hunt at Balcones District Park (corner of Amherst and Duval) on Sunday, April 7 at 1:30. The rain date is Sunday April 14, same time. Check NextDoor or Facebook for updates if the skies look (or are) rainy.

April 6 update: due to the weather, we’ve rescheduled the egg hunt for April 14 at 1:30 at Balcones District Park.

There’s no charge if Northwood Association dues for 2018 are paid, $3 per child if dues have not been paid.  Pay dues

Zoning change requested for cell phone tower by Parmer

Update August 2019

On August 22nd, the Austin City Council approved the zoning change for the United Christian Church to allow for the construction of a wireless tower. The neighborhood worked with UCC, Verizon and their representatives to negotiate several items to help minimize the visual impact.

The transmission tower will be a stealth monopole, limited to 100 feet in height. Unlike a typical wireless tower, the stealth pole looks similar to a flagpole, hiding the antenna within the pole. The agreement also limits the site to a single pole and requires UCC or their representative to notify the neighborhood of any future changes to the design of the tower.

We appreciate UCC’s willingness to reach a compromise solution with the neighborhood.

Original information

At the end of January 2019 neighbors with property adjoining the United Christian Church  that at 3500 W Parmer received a mailed notice the UCC had requested a zoning change to allow a Verizon cell phone tower — a 100 ft tall monopole  and supporting equipment within 840 square feet — since the current zoning doesn’t allow sufficient height.

The Permit/Case number is 2019-009809ZC; the case details are available at the City’s zoning public search site (the home page for the public search is https://abc.austintexas.gov/web/permit/public-search-other?reset=true). The  zoning case document (PDF) shows that the planned site is on the church property close to Parmer.

A number of nearby neighbors expressed concerns on both our Facebook group and on NextDoor. Our Zoning Chair emailed the church to asked the church for a meeting but never heard back from them. He also discussed the project with some of the concerned neighbors, but no formal action has been taken regarding the zoning change.

A public Zoning & Platting meeting will be scheduled; as of this writing (3/16/19) the date has not been set.

Neighborhood meeting with UCC

United Christian Church and representatives from Vincent Gerard & Associates have agreed to meet with the Northwood and Preston Oaks neighborhood to hear our concerns. The meeting will take place at United Christian Church on Thursday, May 16th at 6:30pm.

update: Hearings scheduled

Per a mailed notice received March 26 (hearing notice), the Zoning and Platting meeting has been rescheduled for April 2 May 21 June 4.  The case is scheduled for the May 21 ZAP meeting per a letter requesting delay in ZAP meeting. NextDoor will have the latest updates.

ZAP meetings begin at 6 PM, there is no way to know when this case will be heard. ZAP meetings are at City Hall, Council Chamber unless otherwise listed. 2019 meeting schedule with agendas.  If you wish to share your opinion with the ZAP Commission, print and fill out the comment page and mail it ASAP as indicated on that form.

We will update this post once we learn the date of the City Council’s first reading – the only reading where the public can speak. The Council will meet at City Hall Council Chambers, the reading will be at or after 2 PM. If you wish to speak on this (or any other) topic, you must register ahead of time.

Vote for holiday yard of the month through 12/26

It’s that time of year to vote for your – and your children’s –  favorite holidays yard decorations. Enjoy the lights and choose your favorite Holiday Lights and Children’s Choice through December 26.

How to vote? There are 3 ways – just include the voter’s name and the address of the house that gets their vote:

  • complete the voting form on this site OR
  • email northwoodna@gmail.com OR
  • write your name and the address that gets your vote on paper and drop it in the Association mailbox at 4507 Tamarack. The Association mailbox is on the post of the regular US mailbox (do not put it in the regular mailbox).

Questions? email northwoodna@gmail.com

Northwood Fall Garage Sale Oct 13

The Northwood Fall garage sale starts at 8 AM on October 13, rain or shine! Northwood is located at the northwest corner of Parmer/MoPac. Here’s a map of garage sale addresses;  click or tap on an address  to see what is for sale (link removed).

For neighbors:

We’ll advertise the sale on NextDoor, Facebook and Craig’s’ List. All of those listings will include a link to this post; we’ll add a map with addresses and item categories for sale (ex: children’s clothing, furniture, books).

Register here by Oct. 12 to have your address and for sale items included on our map.

Condos rezoning neighborhood meeting

A neighborhood meeting was held on July 30. The two items on the agenda were updates on the apartments and information about the planned condos project which will replace the home at 3503 Oak Creek Drive, which is on 1.2 acres.

Minutes of the meeting, including details on the condos

The condo developer team attended the meeting and described their project – up to 12 condos in 6 buildings, all will be 1800 sf 3 bedroom 2 bath, no balconies with a 1 car garage. Their target buyers are either empty nesters or singles/couples without children, probably high tech workers at the Domain. The estimated starting price is $400,000, and the anticipated project completion will be within 24 months. There will be some guest parking, no swimming pool or private yards. A Condo Owners Association will maintain the landscaping. They shared a conceptual design, which is subject to change.

Northwood is in favor of this project, and expects the zoning change to pass. To protect Northwood against unexpected changes, we requested some items be added to a Conditional Overlay, which would become part of the zoning and hence enforceable by the City. The developer declined all of our ideas.

To increase our chances of getting a Conditional Overlay, we are asking owners of property within 200 ft of the project to sign a Valid Petition. If at least 20% of the eligible owners sign the Valid Petition, at least 9 of 11 the City Council must vote to approve the zoning change (hopefully with the CO).

The most important items to neighbors which can be addressed by a CO are hooded lighting, a maximum of 25 ft in height (code allows 35 ft) and sufficient setback from adjoining properties (the required setback is 25 ft; we’d prefer at least 30 ft”. Other important items – sidewalks and trees – are addressed by the SF-6 zoning.

We need people to attend the Zoning and Platting meeting, Aug 7 at City Hall starting at 6 PM (don’t know when our case will be heard). Having enough people there will show ZAP that we really want the CO and may encourage them to recommend it to the City Council. Updates will be posted on NextDoor.