Council approves commercial zoning for foundation company site
Photo by Google Maps
Austin City Council gave its initial approval last week to change the zoning for four North Austin lots that host a foundation repair business on Georgian Drive to bring it into compliance with city regulations.
If approved on second and third readings, the new zoning will be Commercial Services-Mixed Use under a neighborhood plan (CS-MU-CO-NP).
Council Member Chito Vela made the motion to approve the request of the applicant, explicitly rejecting the Planning Commission recommendation that would have required the applicant to seek a conditional use permit for the business that is already operating on the property.
Council also rejected staff’s recommendation for Neighborhood Commercial-Mixed Use Neighborhood Combining District zoning (LR-MU-NP). Zoning Officer Joi Harden told Council that staff made its recommendation for the lower zoning classification based on the fact that the property at 8240 Georgian Drive is not located on or near the intersection of major roadways.
The vote for the applicant’s request was unanimous, with Council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Leslie Pool and Alison Alter as well as Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis absent from the dais.
Victoria Haase of Thrower Design represented the applicant. In a letter to the city, Haase noted that the property has been occupied by a construction sales and service use “since at least 1993 and possibly longer” so it is not in compliance with city zoning regulations. The file indicates that the owner has received notice about violations of city rules. Haase showed photos from before her client bought the site and after, indicating that the new owner had cleaned up the site.
Right now, Haase said, there’s a chain-link fence separating her client’s property from the apartment complex next door. She said they had agreed to a neighborhood request for a solid fence instead of the chain-link fence. In addition, she said her client would remove razor wire from the property.
Haase told Council the property owner would agree to regulations that would prohibit automobile rental, automotive repair services, automotive sales and washing, bail bond services, vehicle storage, a service station, custom manufacturing, and limited warehousing and distribution. She explained that while her client uses the property for storage of his equipment, he does all the work on foundations around the city and not on the Georgian Drive property.
Haase was the only speaker at the Council meeting, and backup material in the zoning case file showed little interest from surrounding neighbors. However, three letters in the file showed some concern from the neighborhood.
James Teasdale, director of the Planning & Development Department of the city’s Housing Authority, wrote to staff asking questions but did not voice any objections. The authority owns the low-income housing development Pathways at Georgian Manor Apartments, which shares a property line with the property being rezoned.
One neighbor, P.J. Zolas, wrote to tell Council that the property next door was the site of drunkenness, loud music, fights and garbage. He asked them not to grant residential or mixed-use zoning on the property.
Another neighbor, Abdul K Patel, owner of Sunrise Mini Mart at 102 W. Powell Lane (on the corner of Powell and Georgian), also objected. He noted that the zoning change might have a negative impact on his property. He objected specifically to a retail use for the property, which could happen in the future. Patel wrote, “This area around my store is full of homeless people, drug dealers and prostitutes. We want to improve the area.”
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