Friday, October 31, 2014

Notice to Residents Living Within 500ft of Marshall Tract

Letter from City of Austin to residents living withing 500 feet of Marshall Tract.

Please be advised that the City of Austin has received an application for a Development Assessment for a Planned Unit Development zoning of a property that is within 500 feet of your property. You are being notified because City Ordinance requires that all property owners within 500 feet, those who have a City utility service address within 500 feet, and registered environmental or neighborhood organizations whose declared boundaries are within 500 feet be notified when a Development Assessment has been completed and a briefing to the City Council has
been scheduled.

Case Number: CD-2014-0015

Owner: Dan H. Marshall & Winifred Marshall

Applicant: Drenner Group (Amanda Swor)
Telephone: 512-807-2904

Location: 1300 Lost Creek Boulevard

Project Name: Marshall Planned Unit Development (PUD)

Proposed Zoning Change:

From: Single-family residence standard lot (SF-2) district is intended for moderate density single-family residential use on a lot that is a minimum of 5,750 square feet. An SF-2 district designation may be applied to a use in an existing single-family neighborhood that has moderate sized lots or to new development of single-family housing on lots that are 5,750 square feet or more.

To: PUD - Planned Unit Development district is intended for large or complex developments under unified control planned as a single contiguous project. The PUD is intended to allow single or multi-use projects within its boundaries and provide greater design flexibility for development proposed within the PUD. Use of a PUD district should result in development superior to that which would occur using conventional zoning and subdivision regulations. The minimum size generally considered appropriate for a PUD is ten acres,

City Staff has completed a Project Assessment of the proposed Planned Unit Development and the case file may be viewed by visiting the Planning and Development Review Department, located at 505 Batton Springs Road - 5th Floor; Austin, TX 78704.

You may also contact Sherri Sirwaitis of the Planning and Development Review Department at (512) 974-3057 or and refer to the Case Number if you have any questions concerning this application.

You may also find the Project Assessment Report and other information on this case at our web site

The application is scheduled for a briefing to the City Council on November 20,2014. The briefing will be held at City Hall Council Chambers, 301 West 2nd Street beginning at 2:00 p.m, This is not a public hearing only an informational briefing to Council and the public. You will receive a notice prior to the public hearing of the Planned Unit Development before the Planning Commission and the City Council after a formal application has been submitted to and reviewed by City Staff. For additional information on the City of Austin's land development process, please visit our web site

Views of Marshall Tract

Here are two new views of the Marshall Tract from Google Earth.

These show how intrusive the proposed development is and how large it is compared to other office developments that are close to Lost Creek.

Lost Creek Neighborhood Characteristics (addendum)

Here' another page added to the Lost Creek Neighborhood Characteristics.

Other blogs describing the neighborhood:

Characteristics of Lost Creek Neighborhood

Lost Creek Neighborhood Character

Lost Creek Neighborhood Character (video)

Lost Creek Character: Dark Sky

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

View of Proposed Buildings from Loop 360

The image below is one taken by Wayne Whitney of the balloons from Loop 360. I added the black boxes to illustrate the size of the buildings.

Other visualizations are contained in this blog:

Balloons and Sizes of Proposed Development

Another Photographic Visualization

Photographic Visualizations of Cousins Development of Marshall Tract

Visualization of Buildings in the Context of Lost Creek

Visualization of Cousins Proposed Development of the Marshall Tract

Planned Unit Developments (PUDs)

A planned unit development (PUD), is a type of building development and also a regulatory process. As a building development, it is a designed grouping of both varied and compatible land uses, such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks, all within one contained development or subdivision.

PUDs are generally liked by developers and landowners, and disliked by land planners and residents. Politicians are easily swayed by the economic arguments and respond slowly to citizen concerns.

Land and mobility planers as well as residents like to see stable, long range land use plans, while developers enjoy the flexibility of a PUD, and land owners can usually get more money for their land if it is to be turned into a PUD.

PUDs are basically custom designed land use with zoning specific only to the land that the PUD is created for. These disrupt long range planning of the land use in a geographic area. Like the area along Loop 360, PUDs now exist along the roadway disrupting the flow of transition zoning like large boulders in a stream. Moreover, as these PUDs are custom zoned, the only way one can see the zoning is to go back to the ordinance that created it.

Over longer time periods, maintenance of the zoning within the PUD is flexible and can be changed unless the citizens demand covenants written into the deed of the land.

As the PUD concept was originally described, to offset the potential damage to the community, a strict community improvement concept was included. “PUDs have not been recognized explicitly under state statutory law.  The establishment of any PUD must correspond with the general authority delegated to local governments by the state.  Thus, under Town Law for example, the PUD must "promot[e] the health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community" and it must be created "in accordance with a comprehensive plan”."

There are many variations as to how this concept was implemented. This is made very clear in the District of Columbia ordinance:

The planned unit development (PUD) process is designed to encourage high quality developments that provide public benefits. The overall goal is to permit flexibility of development and other incentives, such as increased building height and density; provided, that the project offers a commendable number or quality of public benefits and that it protects and advances the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience.

A comprehensive public review by the Zoning Commission of the specific development proposal is required in order to evaluate the public benefits offered in proportion to the flexibility or incentives requested and in order to establish a basis for long-term public control over the specific use and development of the property. While providing for greater flexibility in planning and design than may be possible under conventional zoning procedures, the PUD process shall not be used to circumvent the intent and purposes of the Zoning Regulations, nor to result in action that is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan.”

An additional issue has been the passage of laws at the state level to give cities the ability to develop PUDs. In some states, the laws has been challenged and the community has won.

To read the entire article, click here.

Opinion: To fight the PUD, arguments will have to be made on the specific requirements for a PUD, and it's accordance with Austin's ordinances, charter, and state and federal law.

Austin Oaks Office Complex (PUD)

Dallas-based Spire Realty Group LP is proposing to turn a 31-acre office complex located at MoPac and Spicewood Springs Road into a mixed-use development, spawning opposition from many nearby residents who argue the project is not compatible with the neighborhood’s culture. As of Oct. 17, Spire’s plans include building 100,000 square feet of retail, 850,000 square feet of offices, and 610 apartments and townhomes, said attorney Stephen Drenner with The Drenner Group PC, the law firm hired by Spire to assist with the planning. The office complex, called Austin Oaks, is located off Executive Center Drive.

Read about the neighborhood's fight to keep a PUD from forming in their neighborhood. Click here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Balloons and Sizes of Proposed Development

Here's a panorama picture taken from above the intersection of Las Cimas and Loop 360. The arrows indicate where the balloons were at about 11 am yesterday. You can see in comparison to the four story building in Las Cimas why I think that the balloons were too low. I know perspective changes relative sizes but they seem so far off from what they should be.

On the other hand the relative sizes of the two buildings appear to be proportional to the actual difference in heights. Only a corner of the garage was visible from this vantage point.

Also I couldn't show the Cousins building at Loop 360 and Bee Cave Rd. from this same vantage point. I would have had to take some risk of my aged body to make my way above the intersection of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Rd. to get the same perspective on both.

Here are two other perspectives.

A panorama from Loop 360 almost directly across from the proposed building.

Again the building next to the tract in this photo is 3 stories (I think) and the proposed 7 story building doesn't look much bigger, even though it is closer to the camera position.

And, one from Boulder Park.

If you click on the images you can get an enlarged view.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lost Creek Character: Dark Sky

From Deborah Castro, Lost Creek:

"We enjoy a dark sky in Lost Creek because we elected NOT to have street lights. Let's work to establish a neighborhood character of preserving the dark sky because excessive light is wasting energy, causes ill health, contributes to global warming, and adversely affects the environment. Nocturnal animals such as fox, deer, owl, ring tail, bats and others cannot feed, mate or rest in abnormally illuminated trees and forests. The Cousins PUD buildings and parking decks are going to be abnormally highly lit buildings. We want to keep Lost Creek a dark sky in order to protect our natural environment. Since we are a municipality we qualify to start the work of obtaining a dark sky status. Dripping Springs, TX just received their award. Read more at this link.

Hopefully, we can work towards obtaining a Dark Sky Designation."