Despite traffic concerns, P&Z recommends approval of permit for four-plexes

By SHELLY WILKISON

A request by a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission to obtain a conditional use permit to place three four-plexes on Stubblefield Lane was approved by his fellow commissioners Tuesday over the objections of two residents who said neighborhood roadways cannot handle the increased traffic.

After hearing the concerns of residents, Commissioner Bill Soja cast the lone no vote. Chairman Clyde Davis and Commissioner Wes Griffin voted yes. Commissioner Chris Pezold, who requested the permit, abstained from voting. Member Patrick Harlow was not present.

During the public comments portion of the meeting prior to the vote,  Pezold addressed the panel asking for clarification of a zoning ordinance that requires no more than 10 units per acre. He said he wanted to include four residences per building at 300, 304 and 308 Stubblefield Lane.

“It is an appropriate use in the zoning, but it does require a conditional use permit,” said Senior Planner Amber Lewis.

Resident Mark Spinner said the area infrastucture is insufficient to handle the additional residences. In addition to narrow roadways, he said water pressure is often low and questioned the impact of 12 more families.

“Why are you adding high density to a low density area?” he said. “To plan for something that big is outragious with no infrastructure to take care of it.”

City Manager Greg Boatright agreed with residents that current streets are not designed for the traffic that will come with adding 12 residences. He said widening the roads would be a challenge because of buried water and wastewater lines. He said the City could consider designating some streets for one-way traffic.

Griffin said he was voting to recommend Council approval of the permit because property owners have the right to develop their property as they wish within the rules.

“Maybe not all the codes are perfect, but the property owner has the right to develop that,” he said.

Boatright added that the property owner, Pezold, is not responsible for improving the city infrastructure around the four-plexes.

“That’s a problem of the City, not the property owner,” Boatright said.

Soja said he believed the Commission should place conditions on the permit before sending it to the Council for consideration. He said he would not second the motion without conditions.

“It isn’t up to us to put a condition on it,” said Davis, who then seconded the motion to send the matter to Council.

Also Tuesday, the Commission voted unanimously to ratify changes to the Unified Development Code relating to signs. Two years ago, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved changes to the code, which were then adopted by the City Council at that time. However, an ordinance was never drafted or signed by then-Mayor Jamie Williamson to make the actions official, Boatright said.

“Basically, it was dropped, and we’re having to bring it back through the process again,” he said.

The ordinance will now go to the Council for consideration.

A recommendation by Soja that the City join the American Planning Association for $350 annually failed to get a majority vote Tuesday. The Association is a non-profit educational organization that provides continuing education for planners, planning students, elected and appointed officials and planning commissioners.

Soja and Pezold voted yes while Griffin and Davis were opposed.

Also Tuesday, members were provided with a draft ordinance related to the regulation and permitting of mobile food vendors. Mrs. Lewis said the draft was an ordinance in use by the City of Austin and was meant to be a starting point for future discussions on the issue.

Last week, the Council authorized city staff to research possible options regarding mobile food trailers after the City had received some inquiries. Current city ordinances do not address mobile food businesses.

The Commission also voted to recommend the Council approve an ordinance establishing a conditional use permit for a duplex that was originally zoned as a townhome. Mrs. Lewis said the property at 1375 Loop 332 belongs to Lewis Whitehead.