The Austin Chronicle

Liveblogging the Northcross Hearing…

By Wells Dunbar, December 14, 2006, 8:20pm, Newsdesk

Thank God. It is finally upon us. A few considerations, before we get underway:

–The previous speaker sign-up numbers got blown out of the water, with the arrival of a large post-work Northcross crowd. Hopefully, the 45-minute limit still stands.

– Will Futrell even rear her head? She's been in and out all day, appearing to pose with Barrientos, but assistant CM Michael McDonald currently sits in the city manager's chair. Maybe the rumors of her recent vacation time burn-through are true.

Tammy Williamson will be "walking us through the site plan," says Laura Huffman. For now, Huffman is going through the ultra-lax zoning standards the original mall has.

"We did find a mistake which we made, which is notice," says Huffman. Goes over the "interested party" requirement detailed here. Translation: we're sorry, Wal-Mart! Don't hit us!

"The site plan review was solid." TA-DOW!

Tammy Williamson is going over the proposed site plan. Ooh, pretty pictures!

Wow. Remember the Fed Ex speed talker? She's kinda like him.

Numbers everywhere. 375,000 total space at Northcross, only 269,000 currently used. Will be 424,000 square feet after Wal-Mart's built. Damn, that was hard.

Liveblog continued inside…

On new developments: Huffman said Lincoln/Wal-Mart would "negotiate with neighborhood." Yesterday, Lincoln filed separate site plan.This means "they locked in the regulations in the city's criteria manuals… as of yesterday." Also, "one of those site plans has to be abandoned," Huffman continues.

Audible groan #2: the possibility of ride-sharing to Wal-Mart. Charge up the hybrid, honey! Wonky traffic impact analysis continues. "All intersections would operate at an acceptive level of service (D or better)." Third audible groan.

Aw shit, McCracken is asking about traffic "failure mode." The mind reels. He begins to twist the knife: "That's a lot of trucks, 18-wheelers…"

No restrictions on 18-wheeler deliveries; estimated at 150 to 300 a day. I officially lose track of audible groans. Slaughter Wal-Mart location brings in 28,000 car trips, sez the Crackster. PWNED!

"I'd call on Lincoln to tell the truth in their next traffic analysis," Cracky continues. First round of applause.

City Attorney David Smith is talking about the power of the city to limit hours of operation. And up goes the white flag… But maybe not. He actually said the city has the "police power" to do so. Color me stunned.

City Attorney Marty Terry just said the city will notify all neighborhood associations in 500 feet. McCraken says he will support an hours of operation ordinance. Orgiastic applause gushes for the would be boy-mayor…

Totally serious: the entire chamber smells like something's burning. WTF? Seriously! People have the giggles though. Ha ha ha! We're all gonna die, this is hilarious! Did Toby set off a stink bomb?

"Don't be alarmed, but we have contacted the Austin Fire Department, says Will Wynn, citing the day's HVAC trouble. Now City Auditor Steve Morgan is going through the limited scope audit his office made of the Northcross site plan.

Nothing fishy on the site plan so far; but due to time constraints, couldn't do comprehensive site plan review.

On another note, the incessant fire sirens outside aren't quelling anyone's nerves as to the funky smoke aroma…

Time constraints also hampered their investigation into whether the big box ordinance was intentionally stalled by city staff. But they found no evidence, saying it's unlikely the ordinance could've been enacted before the Northcross site plan was filed.

Fire Department has requested we temporarily vacate the room. Holy. Shit.

"We are now in recess."

No lie: there are three fire trucks parked on the south side of City Hall, and at least one more parked on the west side of the building. We're all outside, where the smoky smell is worse than inside…

Methinks I'll watch the rest of this pan out at home, on Channel 6.

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