by Tom Linehan
It was a “thank you sir, may I have another” session. When we concluded the public hearing part of the meeting with the Planning Commission on Tuesday night, a number of the Planning Commission members complimented us on all of the work we did in preparing and thinking through our VMU application. They then proceeded to give us half of what we were asking for. The frustration is working so hard to get back what was taken from us. Burnet Road was zoned commercial up until January. At Tuesday night’s meeting we were asking to return many of those properties to that zoning category.
I felt like we were students being lectured to. “Didn’t we
understand that with commercial zoning, developers can build 60 ft tall
buildings just as they can with VMU zoning?” It’s the risk we have
lived with. There aren’t many 60 ft tall buildings on Burnet Rd today.
That will change with VMU. VMU zoning provides a strong incentive to
developers to build much more profitable mixed use developments. I’m
not making this up, a representative for one of the property owners on
Burnet Road told me after the meeting last night they have been
receiving a number of calls in the last three weeks expressing an
interest in their property because of the VMU zoning.
On Tuesday night a group of Allandale Neighborhood Association
representatives and concerned residents went to the public hearing with
the Planning Commission at City Hall regarding our VMU application. We
had enough knowledge based on a number of pre-meetings with Planning
Commission members and observations gleaned from other neighborhood
associations that have gone through the process to know that defending
our VMU application would be difficult. It was. Our top priorities
were: 1) to keep the shallow lots along Burnet Road adjacent to
single-family residences free from having VMU-zoned designations, 2) to
keep the 6400 Burnet Road tract (Burnet Rd Storage) from being zoned
VMU, and 3) to generate interest in a Town Center approach to achieving
density along Burnet and Anderson roads. We’re not against having mixed
use developments along Burnet and Anderson roads, we just want to
retain the right to have a say in those developments particularly ones
that will have the greatest impact on our neighborhood. This is
particularly true with the Burnet Rd Storage site. Allandale wants a
say regarding traffic flow, drainage, and impact on Lamar Middle
School. We think that’s reasonable. The Planning Commission did not. We
were successful in convincing them of the need to remove many of the
shallow lots along Burnet Rd from VMU however the final vote was 9-0 on
including in their recommendation to the City Council that Tract 5, the
Burnet Rd Storage property, be zoned VMU.
Below is our presentation (click here to view it full size). We will be refining it between
now and when we have our public hearing with the City Council on June 5th. We are not against mixed use developments on Burnet and Anderson.
We’re confident area residents would support the City’s strategy of
putting new apartments and condos on streets like Burnet if adequately
planned and supported with parks, transit and utilities. It was a rough
session. I left Tuesday night’s meeting around 9:30 glad that we got
across our concerns about VMU and adjacent single family residences but
feeling bruised from the process.