By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The River Place Homeowners Association is combining forces with River Place residents living on Milky Way Drive, who started a petition drive to show their opposition to a developer’s request for a zoning change for a 40-acre tract at the end of Milky Way Drive.
“The petition received 833 signatures in just a little more than two weeks,” said Ted Gaunt, petition organizer and River Place resident who lives on Milky Way Drive. The petition has 876 supports as of Oct. 30.
“We don’t oppose development of this amazing piece of land, with views of downtown — we just want it to be fair to those that have already started homes and families here,” Gaunt said.
The homes along Milky Way Drive are zoned SF1 with a conditional overlay that limits the lot sizes to one home per acre. Homes are valued at around $1.5 million. Milestone Community Builders is under contract to buy the land and is requesting an SF2 zoning to build 110 homes, with a density of three homes per acre. According to the zoning application, the homes would range in value from $700,000 to $900,000.
At last week’s River Place Residential Community Association/HOA meeting, the HOA decided to combine forces with the group circulating the petition.
“The two groups are not in conflict,” said HOA President Scott Crosby. “The goal is to come to an agreeable zoning and infrastructure solution in River Place.”
“We want zoning that is closer to what is currently existing on Milky Way,” Crosby said. The proposed project by Milestone is not a consistent feel with Milky Way Drive and the added density will have a negative impact on traffic and schools, he added.
“We met with Milestone and they offered improved traffic infrastructure at 2222/River Place Boulevard, but it was not acceptable, (they were) not fully funded improvements and didn’t have TxDOT, or City of Austin approval,” Crosby said.
The Milestone zoning request could be decided on in the next month or so. Crosby has been talking to the zoning officials and representatives at City Council and he said the zoning officials could decide on this on Nov. 17, and then it would go to the City Council for confirmation or change, a process that usually takes up to 30 days.
The majority of those who have signed the petition are River Place homeowners and a few are from homeowners in immediately surrounding, such as Westminster Glenn, who also share the same roadways and also access River Place Boulevard, Gaunt said.
“We’re seeing broad consensus around the idea that Milestone’s plan is too dense,” Gaunt said. “They’d be welcome if they match the current zoning of Milky Way, which is 1-plus acre lots. At least with that approach, the traffic burden to River Place will be minimized.”
Petition organizers received over 100 signatures at the River Place Hoedown on Oct. 10.
“From the hundreds of people we spoke with that night only one woman was not wanting to sign. After listening to her concerns, and exposing the facts of what Milestone is trying to do, she signed,” said Catherine Gaunt, who is helping circulate the petition.
“My biggest concern is that so many people still do not know what’s going on. Many are informed but they are not aware of the scope of this project and how it will affect the whole neighborhood,” she added.
The petition is located at https://www.change.org/p/austin-city-council-city-of-austin-zoning-and-planning-stop-unfair-milestone-rezoning-in-river-place