ZAP approves zoning request for apartments at RM 2222, City Park Road

The 42-acre tract at the southeast corner of RM 2222 and City Park Road was by the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission last week for a 325-unit apartment complex.

The 42-acre tract at the southeast corner of RM 2222 and City Park Road was by the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission last week for a 325-unit apartment complex.


By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

A zoning request that would allow a 325-unit apartment complex to be built at the corner of RM 2222 and City Park Road was approved by the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission last week at its May 17 meeting, despite opposition from those in the surrounding neighborhood.

The land is owned by longtime landowners known as the Champion sisters, who have had a contentious relationship with the city over the past 30 years, and have twice filed lawsuits against the city over development restrictions put on the site.

If approved, the apartment development would occupy 10 of the 42-acre tract at the southeast corner of RM 2222 and City Park Road.

The land is owned by longtime landowners often known as the Champion sisters.

City planner Victoria Haase said staff recommended the zoning request because it allows uses that are supported under the city’s Imagine Austin comprehensive plan, which encourages higher density development at the intersection of arterial roads and major highways.

“In addition, the 325 apartment units will help to alleviate the housing shortage that we have in the city of Austin,” Haase said.

Opposition from neighbors

The project is not without opposition though. Neighbors presented more than two hours of testimony regarding their opposition at the hearing. Longtime Glenlake resident Carol Lee spoke on behalf of several residents.

Lee said she opposes the applicant’s request for a mixed-use zoning designation and would prefer a more specific multi-family designation.

“Mixed Use allows anything, anywhere and this property does not lend itself to multi-use purposes,” Lee said. “If they insist on developing apartments, the zoning should be changed to MF-1, as per the zoning category that allowed the 459-unit Gables Grandview apartments to be developed on the bluff on the opposite side of FM 2222 from this property adjacent to Jester Estates neighborhood.

She said she would prefer a zoning of General Office as that would have the least impact on traffic congestion, especially during weekends when many travel to Emma Long Park via City Park Road. She said it would also have less of a lighting and noise impact on the adjacent neighborhood.

“Regardless of the land use, the ingress/egress from the property onto City Park Road and FM 2222 need to be made safe,” Lee said. “The current turn lanes and intersection cannot safely accommodate the additional traffic that is projected, despite contrary comments from staff.”

The Traffic Impact Analysis submitted to the city shows that the multi-family development would generate 2,094 vehicle trips per day.

A representative for the applicant, Richard Suttle of Armbrust & Brown, said the applicant, who wants to purchase the site from the Champion sisters, is willing to make road improvements to help accommodate the additional traffic.

“We are willing to make more than our fair share of improvements on City Park Road to do a dual-right turn lane and time the signals, which should help alleviate some of those concerns,” Suttle said.

Suttle said all parts of the city need to allow housing other than single family to help increase the city’s housing stock.

“We have a Traffic Impact Analysis that backs up the fact that a reasonably-sized, multi-family project at the intersection of two highways is a reasonable use,” Suttle said.

Lee said the Gables Grandview apartments and office complex just across RM 2222 have had a negative impact on traffic.

“The driveway onto FM 2222 was supposed to be restricted to Right-In/Right-Out turns,” Lee said. “Violation of the RIRO requirement has had the most negative effect on FM 2222, with vehicles darting across two lanes of traffic and solid striping into the eastbound lanes of 2222.”

Lee said residents also have environmental concerns about the development. While the site is regulated under the Hill Country Roadway Ordinance, it is grandfathered under 1980 water quality regulations.

“Since Bull Creek contributes to our drinking water supply, how this property is developed will have a direct impact on the quality of our potable water supply,” Lee said.

The ZAP commission voted to change the zoning from GO-CO to MU-4-CO. The Conditions recommended by the ZAP were to retain the 100 foot setback from the Shepherd Mountain neighborhood boundary but increase the trip limit to 2,100 vehicle trips per day. The case will now go before city council and is scheduled to be heard on June 16.