Category Archives: zoning

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.

SF-6 Rezoning Plans for 3503 Oak Creek updates

Background

The house located at 3503 Oak Creek (next to St. Francis Anglican Church), which includes 1.2 acres of land, was bought by a developer who plans to raze the existing house and build condos on that tract. To do this, he will have to get the zoning changed from SF-2 to SF-6. Changing zoning requires meeting with the Zoning and Platting Commission on August 7 at 6 PM and then the City Council must vote. The first of 3 readings – the only time the public can comment – is scheduled for August 30.
City planning staff support the change to SF-6. Since city planning staff support the project, the Association expects that City Council will approve it.

8/30/18 update: zoning changed to SF-6

The City Council passed the zoning on all 3 readings. Council Member Pool’s office committed to helping us with crafting a restrictive covenant since City Legal did not agree with our conditional overlay request.

8/8/18 update: ZAP meeting result

Result of the 8/7/18 ZAP meeting: they recommended the zoning change from SF-2 to SF-6 with a Conditional Overlay that prohibits parking behind the buildings. Most of the other items that we requested were not included in the Conditional Overlay as they are (currently) in the SF-6 requirements. (Conditional Overlays can add specific zoning requirements and limits, and violations can be enforced by the City. Restrictive covenants are private agreements; the City does not enforce them.)  Legal is reviewing the CO and may determine that the item is not appropriate for a CO. A recording of the meeting is available.

ZAP only can recommend a particular action for a zoning case; City Council decides. There are 3 readings; the public can speak only at the first reading. The first reading for this rezoning is set for August 30. We plan to attend the City Council meeting to be sure our concerns regarding a conditional overlay are heard. All neighbors are encouraged to attend; we will send updates when we know the time and more via NextDoor.

7/26/18 Current development plans (subject to change)

The developer described the project and answered questions at the general neighborhood meeting July 30 6:30 PM at the Milwood Library. Meeting details

The Association officers and zoning committee met with the developer and his team on July 21. He stated he plans to build 10-12 condos in 5 or 6 buildings. Each building will have 2 units that will share a wall. He intends to sell them to individuals. Each condo will be 1,800 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and no more than 2 levels with a max roof height of 35 ft. They will have small private yards and at least a one car garage. There will be common space and guest parking but no swimming pool. As required by SF-6, the building will be set back 25 ft. from the edge of the property.

Diagram of Initial draft plan (PDF)  This is a very preliminary plan that may change significantly.

Neighborhood current response

Since we expect that this zoning chance will be approved, we have requested a number of items be added to a Conditional Overlay for the proposed zoning change. Conditional Overlay conditions are enforceable by the City. We have asked for the following CO items simply to protect Northwood in case there are any significant changes as the project progresses. The developer and his team are reviewing our requests and will consult with City staff.

  • 50’ building setback from all residential properties (SF-6 requires 25 ft)
  • Buildings not to exceed two stories or 25 feet in height
  • No parking between any setbacks and residential properties
  • Decorative Boundary wall along Oak Creek
  • Community trash, recycling and other refuse collection containers must be located along eastern property line
  • All exterior lighting shall be hooded to limit impact on residential properties
  • Decorative masonry wall abutting all residential properties
  • Garages will be limited to front entry only
  • No balconies facing residential properties

As a precaution, we are gathering signatures for a Valid Petition to show our concerns about the project. Only signatures of adjacent property owners are accepted for a Valid Petition. If we get signatures of property owners from 20% of the surrounding land, then instead of a simple majority vote to approve the zoning changes with a CO, 9 of 11 City Council members must vote for it.

 

 

CodeNext – who should decide?

The Northwood Neighborhood Association officers are providing the following information on CodeNext to keep you informed on a topic that may have a direct impact on our neighborhood.  As you may or may not know, CodeNext is a dramatic rewrite of Austin’s land development code and plans for Austin’s future growth. The rewrite will have a profound and decades long impact on virtually every resident in Austin. The CodeNext draft is a very complex document and many concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the changes it would bring.  As the officers of your neighborhood we agree that the citizens of Austin, upon whom these changes would be forced, deserve and should have the right and opportunity to vote on these proposed changes once the final draft is drawn. NOTE: As of now it will be voted on ONLY by the City Council.

The petition circulating is proposing that there shall be BOTH a waiting period and voter approval by election before CodeNext (or any other subsequent comprehensive revisions of the City’s land development laws) is legally effective. The petition must be signed in person, no online signatures will be accepted.  The petition requires a date, signature and printed name, street address, zip code, county of residence and either your date of birth or voter ID number (voter IDs are available at votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do). You must be a registered voter within the city limits of Austin for your signature to be accepted. The signatures will be submitted for validation. (Please only sign the petition ONE time if you are approached more than once and asked to sign it.)

To read additional information on this petition and also another petition for reasonable petition requirements for voter referendums please see indyaustin.org/petitions/.

We have seen first hand that going before the city council is a very time consuming and tedious task. CodeNext is a very complicated and lengthy document which is currently in its second draft (our CodeNext post has links to some CodeNext and petition information). Who knows how many more will come before the final one? We feel it is imperative that the citizens of Austin be allowed to review and vote on CodeNext and that it not be left in the hands of 10 council members and the mayor.

If you would be willing to collect signatures, whether it be on your street or anywhere in the neighborhood please provide your contact info on this form. If you want to get involved in assisting with the petition drive effort in other ways email info@indyaustin.org

 

 

 

CodeNEXT resources

Statesman site for coverage of CodeNEXT codenexthub.org/

Concerns about CodeNEXT’s affect on AISD schools (Statesman article)

Petition & other information from concerned citizens

4/2018  101 Reasons (and counting) why CodeNext is beyond repair (PDF by Community Not Commodity)

IndyAustin indyaustin.org/ has the petition which we are circulating and more information
IndyAustin Facebook page

10/2017 Number of units and building height – Austin Monitor

9/2017 Slide deck of review of problems in CodeNext v2 (PDF)

9/28/17 comments on CodeNext Draft 2- worse than draft 1 (PDF)

Sept, 2017 article regarding activists plans to petition for a public vote  www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2017/09/longtime-austin-activists-team-up-to-petition-for-a-public-vote-on-codenext/

Information from City government regarding CodeNext

Oct 2017 proposed zoning maps by City Council district

Read chapters of the City of Austin draft Land Development Code (CodeNext) and add comments – codenext.civicomment.org/

Timeline as of Sept 2017 (PDF on city’s website)

CodeNext home page on City’s website

CodeNEXT comments needed!

A number of Northwood neighbors and others from District 7 attended the May 9
CodeNEXT meeting with Council Member Pool and her staff to learn about the changes and ask questions. The speakers stressed that they want feedback now; changes have been made based on feedback.
To review the code and made comments go to codenext.civicomment.org/. The main CodeNEXT page is www.austintexas.gov/department/codenext. And side by side maps of current and proposed zoning are available at codenext.engagingplans.org/codenext-comparison-map?mc_cid=34c2a62560&mc_eid=e9880136d2

Please review the maps and look for any corrections. it was noted at the meeting that a section of Walnut Creek had been rezoned, when it should have remained open space. Please make comments on any topics on the website and provide any feedback.

A big concern

Code Next proposes a reduction in the required notification for public hearings for zonings and other development applications. Currently, notice is required to be mailed a minimum of 15 days prior to the public hearing. The code revisions reduce that period to 7 days. 7 days doesn’t provide enough time for an organized neighborhood response. As we all know, our response to the apartments took much longer to gather the petitions and other information. The best way to indicate your concerns about this is adding comments at  codenext.civicomment.org/

Additional observations

 The map is divided in to “transect zones” and “non-transect zones”, with most of the inner core located in the “transect zone”, which allows for higher density development. Our area is in the “non-transect zone”, which allows less dense projects than areas in the transect zone.

The changes for our area are minimal, and the apartments will not change. The one big change is setbacks for commercial properties, which shouldn’t impact us too much, but may impact development of two properties on the north side of Northwood, the KAHL property and the Fricke property if they were to go commercial. The compatibility standards are proposed to be reduced as well, which would allow for higher density development closer to the residential property lines.

The parking requirements for residential and commercial properties are being reduced, which could create parking problems for future developments.

The Robinson Ranch PUD is not impacted by Code Next, but the code does strengthen the connectivity requirements, pretty much guaranteeing that the two street stubs on Council Bluff will be connected to any new development to the north at some future date. If the Robinson Ranch property owners requested changes to the PUD, they would be through the new zoning code.

There are concerns about developing in floodplains in the Parmer/MoPac area and how that will affect nearby and downstream residential and commercial sites.

The Watershed Department added some code language regarding on site water detention for future projects, which should help mitigate any potential for increased flooding as property develops upstream. They also added some environmental controls that would require water quality ponds to treat the runoff for particulates and other debris, adding some protection for downstream properties. 

Please add comments; they are being reviewed and the maps are being updated.

Other information

CodeNEXT attempts to address affordability issues. austintexas.gov/codenext/housing?mc_cid=34c2a62560&mc_eid=e9880136d2

CodeNEXT (new zoning guide/maps) meeting with Council Member Pool’s office May 9

CodeNEXT, the new City guide for future zoning and development in Austin, has been recently unveiled. District 7 Council Member Pool’s staff are holding a meeting on May 9 at the Milwood Library starting at 6:30 PM for the northern part of District 7 to discuss CodeNEXT and answer questions.

Link to Council Member Pool’s email about CodeNext (it contains the same links that are listed below and more).

Please review the information in the links below to learn about CodeNEXT and how it affects this part of Austin, and attend the May 9 meeting to ask questions and provide feedback.

  • Compare the current and proposed zoning changes  https://codenext.engagingplans.org/codenext-comparison-map
  • Review the text of the Land Development Code https://codenext.civicomment.org/.Per this page,”CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what, where, and how much can be built.
    The draft Land Development Code will be edited based on the comments you provide on this site, in our public meetings, and through other feedback mechanisms. For more information and for other ways to get involved, please visit our website: austintexas.gov/codenext.”
  • Home page of CodeNEXT www.austintexas.gov/CodeNEXT

 

Oak Creek Apts. Housing Tax Credits opposition

The developers for the Oak Creek apartments have applied for 9% Housing Tax Credits (TDHCA website 9% page) so they can build reduced rent (affordable housing) units. This is a very competitive process.  There is a public comment period for the TDHCA 9% tax credits which ends June 23, 2017.

During this public comment period we can write to the TDHCA (details below) and attend TDHCA Board meetings to express our opinions and opposition regarding the project.  The TDHCA looks at the public comments when evaluating a project.

Sign petition opposing the tax credits

You can sign the online petition here by June 15 (the Board needs time to prepare the petition for submission). All residents who are at least 18 years of age can sign.

Submit comments  to TDHCA

If you wish to submit comments to the TDHCA by phone, fax or email (details below), be sure to include the following

Application# 17272 Development Name: Elysium Grand
Development Address: N side of Oak Creek Dr, W of Mopac
(Note: the address under the application is not 3300 Oak Creek.  This is because the developer applied for 2 projects under the same land during the pre-application process and they could not put 2 applications under the same address).
Development City: Austin, TX 78727

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Attn: Multifamily Finance Division
P.O. Box 13941
Austin, Texas 78711-3941
or by email: htc.public-comment@tdhca.state.tx.us
or by fax: (512) 475-1895

 

Oak Creek apts rezoning passes on first of 3 readings

Many thanks to the 40ish neighbors who took the time to go to City Hall on February 2. Our 4:00 “time certain” (earliest time the case would be heard) turned into a 6:45 discussion.

This is the first reading; there will be 2 more readings (date not yet set); the vote on the third reading is binding. Normally no public testimony is allowed after the first reading.

Recording of the City Council meeting;  we are item 56 part 2. The first 20 minutes are the developer’s presentation; beginning at 20 minutes the Mayor called one speaker from Northwood then a pro apartments speaker and continued that pattern.

End result: The developer described their plans – including 4 and 5 story buildings – and had some people give “we need affordable housing” talks. They had no other justification. After some truly excellent presentations by Northwood neighbors, covering

  • unsuitability of the proposed zoning for the area traffic/safety
  • limited exits which make it impossible to evacuate everyone during a disaster such as a wildfire
  • environmental issues (flooding and karst terrain, which often contains sinkholes and/or caves)
  • poor mobility/walkability and how this site fails the goals described in Imagine Austin
  • availability of more suitable tracts further west on Parmer
  • testimony from a neighbor/social worker who is familiar with the needs of the target demographic describing the problems with the location (among other points, caregivers who travel to the clients’ homes often use public transportation)

To everyone’s great disappointment, our own Council Member Leslie Pool gave an impassioned speech FOR the affordable housing units. Pool also made the motion to accept the MF-4 zoning.

The Mayor, Council Members Casar and Renteria made “we need affordable housing” speeches and Council Member Houston said she was impressed with the developer and encouraged us to work with them. With our own council member in favor of the rezoning, all other council members also voted for it with very little discussion and  no questions for the neighborhood. To say we were disappointed and disheartened is an understatement. They ignored all of the safety and environmental concerns and the comments from the Watershed Protection department’s representative about “2, possibly 3 known sinkholes”.

We (Northwood) were aware of one “critical environmental feature” (a sinkhole). The Watershed Protection rep noted that the neighborhood’s environmental facts were accurate. The Watershed Protection rep stated there are 2, possibly 3 sinkholes and that would be investigated further during the (intensive) site plan phase” which happens after zoning.  (Note: even if all goes the developer’s way, they may discover site problems that prevent them from developing it. The 3/1/1979 City Council session included a rezoning request for this tract; it includes the quote “they do not plan development of Tract 1 until the sewer is in and terrain problems can be solved“. Unfortunately the location of those records with the terrain problem details is unknown.)

The third reading – date not yet decided – is the final and legally binding vote. There is normally no public discussion at the third reading. However, the developer still needs the tax credits funding from the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs; there is much competition for these tax credits.

We lost the first round and we are NOT finished yet. Stay tuned to NextDoor and the private Facebook Group for details.

update: Feb 2 City Council Oak Creek Apts Rezoning hearing-all attend!

Northwood was notified this week that the same developer will be going forward with the zoning case. The hearing will be held January 26  February 2 at City Hall. The earliest it will be heard is 2 PM.  4 PM ; we have a “time certain” for 4 PM, which means that 4 PM is the EARLIEST our case will be heard. It could be much later; that depends on the agenda items ahead of our case.  Please plan to attend! If possible, we will update the time as we learn it via NextDoor

The developer also applied for 2 projects to be funded for multifamily through the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs (the agency that manages the grants for subsidized housing) for 2017. One is for general affordable and the other is for supportive housing funding. Here is a link to the application spreadsheet on TDHCA:

http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/multifamily/housing-tax-credits-9pct/docs/17-CompHTCPreAppLog.xls

The General Affordable is basically the project we have been dealing with (“reduced rent” units).

To the best of our knowledge and from what we have read, the TDHCA defines supportive housing as:

“125) Supportive Housing–Residential rental developments intended for occupancy by individuals or households in need of specialized and specific non-medical services in order to maintain independent living.

The services offered generally include case management and address special attributes of such populations as Transitional Housing for homeless and at risk of homelessness, persons who have experienced domestic violence or single parents or guardians with minor children.”

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE SHOW A LARGE REPRESENTATION AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING. THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. WE NEED TO SHOW THE UNITY OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

With the Valid Petition still in place, 75%  – 9 Council Members – must vote in favor for this rezoning application to pass on the third reading. This is the first reading. We need 3 City Council members to vote against it on the third reading to defeat it.

Please email Nancy Grijalva at NorthwoodTreasurer@gmail.com  if you plan on attending the hearing on February 2 and if you either wish to speak or are willing to donate your 3 minutes to another speaker. Each speaker gets 3 minutes; others can donate time to increase that. Several of the officers and other planned speakers need more than 3 minutes.  Important: If you donate time to someone, you must be present when our rezoning case is heard or your donation doesn’t count.

Include the following:

subject: attending 2/2 meeting

1. Name
2. Address
3. Phone number
4. Do you need a ride and the time frame you can attend the meeting
5. Are you able to drive others if so how many and the time frame you can attend the meeting

Background information on the original rezoning case is available at the Oak Creek Apartments: Resources Summary page

Apartments rezoning postponed!

Update

8/9/16
First, A BIG THANK YOU to each and everyone of you for your continued support!

As most of you may have heard or read the neighborhood’s rezoning case has been postponed. As it was explained it has been postponed for 180 days. This basically means the applicant can withdraw or the staff can request another postponement. Additional action will be required by the applicant to withdraw the request. There was not a specific date given to rehear the case; they will have to notify us when and if the case is rescheduled.

We are fortunate to have a handful of board members and neighbors that have spent long hours of research, attending meetings, making phone calls and gathering all the information needed to present the neighborhood’s position and to keep the current non-residential zoning in place.

At the August 4 Council meeting the question to be answered was whether or not the zoning case should be postponed. Our responses to the questions asked were limited to only the postponement request. Yes it would have been better if they would have withdrawn, but that did not happen. So for the next few weeks/months we will be in contact with city staff and City Council members regarding the zoning case and other relevant related issues. The Neighborhood Association officers and involved neighbors will be monitoring it closely and will report any and all concerns that may develop as well as keep you abreast of any future actions that may be required.

We know that you may have questions and concerns about this past week’s meeting with the City Council, and we are more than willing to answer any concerns/ comments or questions you may have.

Now we must wait to see what the developer plans to do. We all want answers but at this time we have no way of determining what they will do. So we ask for your patience and please let us know your concerns. As promised we will keep you updated on any new developments.

Please be sure to keep watching for any new information or updates!

Recording of the August 4 hearing (we are item #70)

Statement from State Representative Celia Israel explaining her stand on affordable housing, released 8/8/16 (PDF) We are deeply grateful to Representative Israel for her decision to remain neutral regarding the housing tax credits in this case.

Original Information

We just received word: the rezoning of the apartments has been postponed for (at least) 180 days. Elysium postponement letter from the project manager (PDF).

Why did they take this step? This project was intended to build “affordable housing” apartments using 9% Housing Tax Credits from the Texas Department of Community Affairs.  These tax credits are extremely competitive; this project was not funded and is not on the wait list (see the July 28 spreadsheets listed on the TDHCA page).

Although they have not withdrawn the rezoning case  – the applicant will need to take additional action to withdraw the request – they have postponed indefinitely. This  postponement is valid for 180 days, at which time the applicant can withdraw or staff can request another postponement.  As of this writing (8/3/16) this case can potentially be reactivated with little notice. We will continue monitoring this.

***************

As of this writing (Aug. 3) the case is scheduled to be heard at the August 4 City Council meeting; the officers and workgroup members will attend in case there are any questions. There is NO need for the neighborhood to attend.

Many thanks to everyone who has worked to oppose this case! And cross fingers and toes that the applicant does withdraw the rezoning request.