Last Thursday, August, 20, 2009, twenty-five Allandale residents showed up at Hangtown Grill to learn, discuss, and strategize on what to do about recent efforts to split lots in Allandale. There are a four cases before the City's Zoning and Patting Commission (ZAP) seeking approval for the replatting. According to the City's attorneys, ZAP has no authority over deed restrictions. It's a private matter. As long as the resulting lots conform to city code (for SF2 in Allandale's case), and do not require a variance, ZAP must approve the resubdivision. Allandale believes otherwise. Local residents hired an attorney to research the law and passed along his findings to the City. According to the attorney, state law does require the City to honor deed restrictions. It prohibits "replatting/resubdividing if it attempts to amend or remove any covenants or restrictions," which the proposed resubdivisions on Woodview and Montiview and Shoalmont and Geraghty would do. The discovery has not changed the City's mind and that is where things stand.
Attention to deed restrictions and resubdivisions in Allandale heightened with efforts to split up lots on Woodview, Montview and Shoalmont. They are separate cases but the end result would be a doubling of lots, from 5 to 10. Neighbors are opposed because they violate the amended deed restrictions which prohibits re-subdivisions without prior written approval of 66 2/3 of the homeowners in the Shoalmont Addition. As Lorinda Holloway, one of the neighbors in the area contesting the subdivision states, "re-subdividing negatively impacts our property values, increases traffic, creates parking and safety challenges, increases impervious cover, and destroys the large lot style of the neighborhood."
A similar re-subdivision is being pursued just north of Koening on 2600 Geraghty Street. The owner is seeking to split the lot in two, much to the consternation of the neighbors. What follows is a post to the Allandale listserve from one of the neighbors, Jon Etkins regarding that subdivision:
"We received notification in the mail this week of an application to subdivide the existing lot at 2600 Geraghty (on the corner of Joyce). Apparently the plan is to demolish the existing detached garage and turn what is now the back yard into a separate lot, on which they intend to build a new house with a new Joyce St address.
Our initial feeling is one of opposition. We believe that the tiny lots that would result (each barely above the mandatory minimum of 5750 sq ft) would be out of character with the neighborhood, and this would set a bad precedent.
On a personal note, we're also concerned about the extra runoff that this will cause; we live across Pegram from the end of Joyce, and whenever there's a good rain the water rushing down Joyce already flows across Pegram and into the gutter on our (North) side of the road, which then backs up and overflows into the front few feet of our yard if the downpour is heavy enough. The last thing we need is extra water coming down Joyce from new impervious cover further up the hill.
We'll probably attend the public review and state our case, but I'm disheartened by the apparent fact that as long as there are no variances required, the commission is legally required to approve the subdivision. What's the point of seeking public input if they're forced to rubber-stamp it anyway?
To summarize, the 4 re-subdivisions mentioned above are pending–all of them are in violation of deed restrictions. The City's position is that enforcement of deed restrictions is a private matter, the only remedy for violation is to sue. According to Paulette Kern, ANA's Zoning chair, the City of Austin's attorney "has advised ZAP that citizens may not speak of or cite deed restrictions in their concerns. ZAP has been counseled that they must approve resubs if the ensuing lots meet City Code requirements." She added, "The neighborhood is exploring tools and avenues to stop the doubling of density within our neighborhood."
If you want to express your concern about any or all of these resubdivisions, contact the City's case manager for the respective case. The information on each case is listed below:
Woodview Ave (case C8-2008-0224.OA)- Lots 19 & 20 would be resubdivided into 4 lots with three of the lots facing/on Woodview and one lot behind the middle lot with a long driveway for access (a "flag" lot). E-mail sylvia.limon [Email address: sylvia.limon #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">sylvia.limon [Email address: sylvia.limon #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ] to object to this application.
Montview St (case C8-2008-0240.OA) – Lot 10A would be resubdivided into 3 lots from a portion of one lot. E-mail sylvia.limon [Email address: sylvia.limon #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" style="color: blue !important; text-decoration: underline !important; cursor: text !important; " target="_blank">sylvia.limon [Email address: sylvia.limon #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ] to object to this application.
Shoalwood Ave (C8-2009-0018.OA) – Lot 5 and a portion of Lot 6 would be resubdivided into a total of 3 lots. E-mail don.perryman [Email address: don.perryman #AT# cit.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">don.perryman [Email address: don.perryman #AT# cit.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ] to object to this application.
2600 Geraghty (C8-2009-0061.0A) – The applicant is proposing to resubdivide 0.27 acres from one lot to 2. E-mail david.wahlgren [Email address: david.wahlgren #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">david.wahlgren [Email address: david.wahlgren #AT# ci.austin.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
Do deed restrictions matter in Allandale, Austin, Texas? We will find out.