The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM. There were 25 people attending.
After introducing the officers and Zoning Chair, the development team introduced themselves: Architect team: Victoria Haase, Ron Thrower, developer Travis Saegert and property owner (Travis’s father) Bill Saegert.
Travis and his team described the project: they have requested a zoning change for this 1.2 acre tract from SF-2 to SF-6 so they can build condos (to sell, not to rent). Their goal is to create a community (condos) within a community (Northwood). The target customers are empty nesters and young couples without children, including tech workers who work in the Domain. They anticipate the sales prices to start around $400,000. The provided a conceptual layout which may change.
The SF-6 zoning will give greater flexibility in locating the buildings and will allow them to keep more of the mature trees. The structures can share walls – they will have a maximum of 12 units in 6 buildings, 2 per building. All of the condos will be 1800 sf 3 bedroom 2 bath units with a maximum height of 35 ft. All units will have a one car tandem garage for 2 vehicles (one vehicle is parked in front of the other). There are no plans for balconies (which means more privacy for adjoining homes). There will be some amount of guest parking (no details on the number or location). There will not be a swimming pool or private yards. All open space landscaping will be maintained by the Condo Owners’ Association (COA). They will replace the chain link fence separating their tract from Northwood homes with a “nicer” fence (possibly wood or stone). There will be a water quality / detention pond as required by the City and TCEQ.
A notable difference between SF-2 and SF-6 relates to trees: SF-2 allows trees less than 19” in circumference to be removed. SF-6 requires that trees with at least 8” circumference be “mitigated” – maybe they can just be removed, maybe they need to be replaced.
They noted they could keep the current zoning and subdivide the lot into 6 smaller lots. Each of the 6 lots could contain a main residential building and an accessory dwelling unit, often called a “granny house”. This design would require them to cut down more trees and generally is less desirable than the SF-6 condos.
Questions and discussion
There were concerns about driveway location and guest parking on Oak Creek, and questions about what if families with teens want to buy; they may have more than 2 vehicles. They will consider more off street parking than is required by the zoning requirements, based on what is possible. For example, per City code they must consider not only trees but their root zones when identifying paved parking areas.
How to guarantee neighborhood privacy? The City has compatibility requirements to protect lower density zoning residences. However, SF-6 allows 2 story structures to be up to 35 feet in height which is higher than Northwood homes.
What about lighting? They noted that SF-6 compatibility standards prevents lighting affecting neighbors. Our zoning chair (whose job includes dealing with zoning on a daily basis) noted that the lighting restrictions – hooded lights – only relate to parking area lights, not to lights on the building.
Could residents build storage sheds? Doubtful, that’s up to the COA.
What’s the time frame? At least 18 months and more likely 24 months before the condos are for sale.
Have they built other projects? The design team has prior projects and they noted those projects had “no negative effect” on property values of adjacent homes.
The Neighborhood Association officers and neighbors attending the meeting all agree that this sounds like a good project and expect that the zoning change request will be approved. We requested a number of items (below) be added to a Conditional Overlay, which becomes part of the zoning and thus can be enforced by the City. These items are simply to protect Northwood in case the unexpected happens. The developer rejected all of them.
Per City staff, the following items can be added to the ordinance as a CO:
- 50′ building setback from all residential properties (instead of 25 ft; we hoped for 30 ft)
- Buildings not to exceed two stories or 25 feet in height (instead of 35 ft)
- No parking between any setbacks and residential properties
- All exterior lighting shall be hooded to limit impact on residential properties
The following items will need to be addressed via Private Restrictive Covenant: (not enforced by the City)
- Decorative Boundary wall along Oak Creek
- Community trash, recycling and other refuse collection containers must be located along eastern property line
- Decorative masonry wall abutting all residential properties
- Garages will be limited to front entry only
- No balconies facing residential properties
After the developer left, there was further discussion. The most important items to neighbors are trees and sidewalks, which are required by zoning. Also hooded lights for adjoining neighbors and enough of a buffer for adjoining neighbors. We need to attend the Zoning & Platting (ZAP – info about ZAP) meeting on August 7 at City Hall, 301 W. Second Street at 6 PM, to explain our CO requests. If ZAP agrees, they go on record as recommending the CO. Then the City Council decides. They may agree with ZAP recommendation or do something completely different.
If at least 20% of property owners within 200 ft of the property sign a petition, the City Council must vote by a super majority or 9 of 11 instead of a simple majority (6 of 11) to pass the zoning. We are gathering signatures for the valid petition to show our desire for the Conditional Overlay, not to oppose the zoning change. Please attend the ZAP meeting! If a number of people attend to show their support, that may encourage them to recommend a CO.
Oak Creek Elysium Apartments update
The developer is currently on the agenda of the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs Board meeting for September 9 to request 4% in tax credits to help cover the construction costs. We plan to attend that meeting and explain our position. Note that these apartments are required to have affordable rents for 5 years, not forever.
The meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM