ZAP for Stratus

After more than four hours of testimony, debate, and some choice potshots, the Zoning and Platting Commission late Tuesday unanimously approved Stratus Properties' zoning changes and settlement agreement with the city. Z.A.P. accepted the staff's zoning recommendations but added development restrictions on several tracts. The City Council is expected to consider the Stratus deal on June 27; opponents hope to rally a turnout that would equal the legendary June 7, 1990, council hearing, which ended with council's rejection of a plan to develop the same Circle C property at issue today.

The Z.A.P. vote was helped along by a subcommittee's in-depth study of the plan, with input from Stratus attorney Steve Drenner and Southwest Austin neighborhood and environmental representatives. More than a dozen residents from neighborhoods affected by the Stratus plan spoke in opposition. "If this is such a good plan, why are we having to give abatements? Why are we being threatened?" asked Amy Rupp of the Circle C Neighborhood Association, a group formed after residents learned that their Homeowners Association leaders were negotiating privately with Stratus. (Circle C HOA board members voiced their support for the plan Tuesday.)

Attorney Casey Dobson, who negotiated the deal for the city, vigorously defended the agreement, denying allegations made earlier by Save Our Springs Alliance leader Bill Bunch that it was built on fraud, fear, and misinformation. Dobson also accused certain city staff members of fueling controversy over the agreement. "Given our realistic alternatives," he said, "I believe this is a good settlement. It gives certainty about the outcome of the tracts."

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