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Friday October 7th, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

The Zoning and Platting Commission on Tuesday recommended rezoning for 33 homes in South Austin over objections from two neighbors.

The case involves a 2.7 acre property located at 7901 Peaceful Hill Lane. The owner, represented by Victoria Haase with Thrower Design, plans to rezone the site to Townhouse and Condominium Residence (SF-6) to build 33 homes. The site, currently used for car storage, is zoned Development Reserve (DR).

The two neighbors who spoke said they were generally okay with the SF-6 zoning, but wanted to see additional design elements.

The neighbors had already obtained concessions from the developer, including a 6-foot wall in front of the new homes. But Haase said the landlord could not agree to other demands, including requiring single-story, free-standing homes along Peaceful Hill and a 5-foot setback from the street beyond the required 25-foot setback.

“We need to maintain as much flexibility as possible,” Haase said, adding, “I don’t know why it’s important that these units along Peaceful Hill are independent from the street. They will look the same whether they are alone or attached to another unit. Concept plans show almost all units attached.

John Stokes, one of the neighbors, said the seemingly insignificant demand is actually substantial when taken in the context of a much larger development planned on 41 acres of land next door.

“We think if there’s a visual buffer of individual units out front, it will make it very difficult for another developer to come in and say, I want to build four-story apartment buildings, which they’re now offering,” he said.

Commissioner Cesar Acosta argued that design considerations, such as whether houses have one or two stories, are irrelevant to zoning. “Whether or not this is an appropriate type of zoning for the area, I think is the main question. And I think so, ”he said.

Commissioner Jolene Kiolbassa argued for limiting density to 10 units per acre (about 27 units) in accordance with restrictions on neighboring properties. “It would be more comparable and appropriate zoning,” she said.

Kiolbassa proposed recommending SF-6 with a density cap of 10 units per acre and a requirement that homes along Pleasant Hill be one-story. No one seconded his motion.

The commission then voted unanimously to recommend zoning SF-6. The case is scheduled for the city council on October 13.

Conceptual site plan via the City of Austin.

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