Naked City

Why God Created Lawyers

Hyde Park wasn't the only North Central Austin neighborhood straddling the dusty byways of the city's Land Development Code at the Oct. 11 council meeting (see "Austin @ Large," p.12). The North University Neighborhood Association went up against developer Mike McHone and his proposed 163-unit Villas on Guadalupe upscale condo project (four stories and a six-story parking garage) just northwest of the UT campus. The (old) Planning Commission had soundly dissed McHone's project back in June, after a NUNA contingent voiced concerns about its density next to single-family homes and duplexes, removal of existing historic structures on the site, and the impact on traffic and in the already kinda-cramped neighborhood.

This time out, McHone's quest for a zoning change from CS (commercial) to MF-6 ("highest-density" multifamily) was sidetracked when NUNA lawyer and former Planning Commissioner Rachael Rawlins noted that despite the catchy name, the Villas would not actually be on Guadalupe but on Hemphill. In fact, McHone's property doesn't touch Guadalupe, despite the project being filed and posted on the council agenda as "property locally known as 2717-2810 Guadalupe Street." Even if the condos were built on the Drag, they wouldn't be at that address, which as you can see would span both sides of Guadalupe.

Why nobody at the city noticed this error -- the project had already gone through the PC -- is unclear. But the false address issue made the posting on the Council agenda illegal, the council couldn't act, and the case got bounced back to the (new) Zoning and Platting Commission, which is set to start the process over on Oct. 23. It likely won't be back before the council until we have a new mayor.

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