Friday, November 14, 2014

Issues Concerning the Proposed Development of the Marshall Tract as a PUD

The following is a list of issues related to the proposed rezoning of the Marshall Tract from Single Family (SF-2) to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) with a base General Office (GO) Zoning with many variances. This list has not been prioritized. Each issue has a link to further discussion on this blog – Marshall Tract Development. 

Please write to the City of Austin expressing the concerns you may have regarding this PUD development. All the important contacts are given in the post here. You can write to any or all of the city contacts, but please write the Mayor and City Council before their first discussion of this project on November 20th. Don't send all of these.  Choose the ones important to you and write it in your own words. Please include the case number in all your correspondence.

 Case Number: CD-2014-0015

  • The two proposed 373,000 square feet of office buildings would have a carbon footprint 4 times that of a single family development. It would require 354,000 acres of acres of average biological productivity land to offset the carbon dioxide generated. More
  • The proposed PUD would require numerous variances from the proposed base General Office (GO), and a variance from the Austin Hill Country Roadway ordinance. Whereas, the land could be developed as SF-2 with no zoning variances. See following blog post for descriptions of zoning classifications. More
  • The proposed PUD with two office buildings would increase traffic on already congested Loop 360 by 10% to 17%. More
  • The proposed PUD is in violation of Austin's PUD ordinance in many ways. Especially it fails to meet the basic criteria set forth in the ordinance: “Be consistent with applicable neighborhood plans, neighborhood conservation combining district regulations, historic area and landmark regulations, and compatible with adjacent property and land uses.” It fails to meet several Tier 1 requirements established in the ordinance. And, the developer has failed to demonstrate that the proposed PUD is superior through Tier 2 requirements. More
  • The proposed PUD is essentially spot zoning that is prohibited by law. More
  • The proposed buildings will dominate the landscape and are inconsistent with all other office buildings in the area. More
  • The proposed development of the Marshall Tract is intrusive into the residential development of Lost Creek. More
  • The proposed development of two tall office buildings will degrade several of the characteristics of the Lost Creek neighborhood valued by its residents: privacy, hill country vistas, trees, night sky, fresh air and low noise. More
  • The proposed PUD is inconsistent with CodeNEXT* in which compatibility with neighborhoods is a significant issue. More
  • The proposed PUD is inconsistent with the strategic direction for Austin expressed in Imagine Austin, a master plan approved by City Council. The land is not in any preferred growth corridor nor will it be served by any mass transit. It is in the master planned Hill Country Roadway Corridor. Austin's city charter states “ no public or private development shall be permitted, except in conformity with such adopted comprehensive plan or element or portion thereof”. More
  • The Marshall Tract was annexed into the City of Austin in 2008 as SF-2. It was a part of the Las Cimas property annexation which was zoned for offices. In the zoning report the office buildings on Loop 360 adjacent to Lost Creek were clearly marked “Lost Creek Commercial Area”. The Marshall Tract was correctly zoned upon annexation as SF-2. More
  • Cousins is a professed exploiter of circumstances. Their CEO has stated that Cousins will employ a strategy of urban trophy assets and opportunistic investments. By CodeNEXT terms Lost Creek is best described as a Driveable Suburban neighborhood, not urban. “Urban trophy assets” do not belong in the neighborhood. More
  • Lost Creek needs parkland. If Lost Creek had been developed under the Austin Parkland Dedication ordinance, approximately 20 acres would have been set aside for parks. Lost Creek has nowhere near that amount. If the Marshall tract was to be developed into residences, an additional 1 to 4 acres would be added as park land under the Parkland Dedication ordinance. More
  • The Marshall Tract is surrounded by property zoned Limited Office (LO), SF-2 and a Hill Country Roadway Corridor. General Office (GO) is not compatible with it's neighbors. More
  • The PUD will decrease the assessed value of residential land adjacent to the Marshall Tract. In Lost Creek, land with greenbelt behind it was appraised 13% higher than land with houses behind it. Land with offices behind it was appraised 9% lower than land with houses behind it. More
  • The two Cousins office buildings would consume 7 times more electricity than a residential development. More
  • The PUD will consume 13% more water than if the land was used for single family homes. Over ten years, a residential development will save 14 million gallons of water. More
  • The PUD as proposed would violate at least 10 of Austin's 12 Principles of Zoning. More
  • The tallest of the two office buildings proposed will be one of the highest altitude buildings in Austin. More
  • The economic value of the houses in Lost Creek is at least $600M. That far exceeds the value of proposed construction on the Marshall Tract, and this home owner value must be protected. More
  • Safety and security are important concerns for Lost Creek residents. Increased density of development in close proximity to housing can affect crime rates. More
  • The Marshall Tract is a remnant of one of many ranches and farms in the Eanes community. Almost all have been developed in one fashion or another. It has a rich archeological and early settler history. In its early days the Ford Motor Company used mohair from goats to make a soft, long-lasting fabric which was used to upholster the seats in its "tin lizzies". H.B. Marshall was one company's first mohair suppliers. The cemetery is a Texas Historical Cemetery (TV-C136). Members of the original founding Eanes family are buried here. The first Eanes settler – Alexander- is buried in an unknown location. Robert Eanes' grave (1805 – 1895) is also commemorated with a Texas Historical Marker (15597), although the grave is unmarked by a stone. More
  • The construction of the two office buildings will be an ecological disaster to the Marshall Tract. Natural habitat will be destroyed through massive cut and fill operations and Golden Cheek Warbler habitat will be destroyed. More
  • Austin is annexing a unique and valuable neighborhood at the end of 2015. It needs to be protected by Austin. More

* CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can (and cannot) be built. The process is a collaboration between Austin’s residents, business community, and civic institutions to align our land use standards and regulations with what is important to the community. This initiative to revise the Land Development Code is a priority program out of Imagine Austin, our plan for the future adopted by City Council in 2012.

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