The Planning Fee tried to settle a dispute Tuesday over public park entry between the Parks and Recreation Division and the developer of a South Congress multifamily venture. When discovering the perfect resolution for each events proved elusive, commissioners blamed the town’s inflexible Land Growth Code.

“Our code lacks the chance for innovation,” Commissioner James Shieh mentioned.

The dispute boiled all the way down to greenbelt entry. Metropolis code requires that The Bend, a proposed 125-unit rental improvement at 4802 South Congress, dedicate land for the long run Williamson Creek Greenbelt and create a public entry easement.

The developer, nevertheless, requested to pay fee-in-lieu as a substitute of dedicating the parkland because of a scarcity of appropriate locations for an easement. When an attraction of the employees determination to require the land dedication wasn’t profitable on the Parks and Recreation Board, the developer appealed to the Planning Fee as a final recourse.

Agent Mike McHone mentioned an easement alongside the constructing’s driveway – the one possible location – gained’t work. The driveway, which can also be a hearth lane, isn’t appropriate for public entry, McHone mentioned, and the detention pond on the finish of the driveway would block any path. 

Scott Grantham, a planner at PARD, mentioned the entry is vital to assist fulfill the “grand imaginative and prescient” of the Williamson Creek Greenbelt, a imaginative and prescient largely shaped by the community

The parks division’s proposed design is a 5-foot sidewalk and 5-foot bike lane with two 10-foot automobile lanes.

“That isn’t the Parks and Recreation Division’s very best situation,” Grantham instructed the Austin Monitor. “Ideally we might have a 15-foot-wide separated pathway that’s ADA accessible and is totally separate from the driveway, hearth lane, all of that.” 

Crews are set to interrupt floor on the constructing in June, and all of the items have already bought, leaving the developer to design and construct a code-compatible public entry earlier than then with out altering the constructing. “We predict it’s not possible to adjust to all of the ordinances,” McHone instructed the Monitor. “In order that’s our drawback.”  

Grantham mentioned that the parks division is bound the easement works, even when there are overlapping makes use of, such because the bike lane and hearth lane. 

“We’d hope to not impression the constructing,” Grantham mentioned. “As a former website plan reviewer, I’ve seen that website plans might be seemingly near their ultimate phases, and lots of issues can transfer on the location plan.”

Commissioners expressed frustration that a greater resolution couldn’t be discovered.

“This entry sucks – I imply, it’s only a reality,” Commissioner Grayson Cox mentioned. “We’re making an attempt to squeeze this sidewalk and bike lane the place it actually doesn’t match. It’s not going to be a fascinating place to be.”

“I simply hope that employees makes use of very cheap flexibility on the right way to meet the intent of the code,” Cox mentioned, “with out making the code flip this into some actually unusual, mutilated monster.”

Grantham hoped a greater path is likely to be doable if the property to the south is redeveloped. A utility easement abutting the 2 properties would enable the 5-foot sidewalk to be expanded.

Metropolis code doesn’t enable PARD to construct a path alongside the utility easement earlier than the property is developed with out buying the easement. 

“I believe there’s this drawback we’ve got proper now with our code,” Shieh mentioned, “as a result of we’ve all been making an attempt to achieve for some sort of innovation; for example, the easement within the neighbor’s yard. However we are able to’t do something with a utility easement.”

Shieh argued that very best places for public entry to the greenbelt ought to have been established already. “Proper now, we’re caught. And we’ve got to make this determination based mostly upon what I take a look at as a scarcity of planning for the realm.”

Regardless of its reservations concerning the easement, the fee voted 13-0 to uphold the choice to require parkland dedication – and the easement.

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