Naked City

Crestview Lather Over Liquor

Many residents of North Central Austin's Crestview neighborhood are acutely aware that April is Alcohol Awareness Month, due to the amount of liquor flowing through their 'hood. Recently, area residents were outraged when the City Council approved on first reading a rezoning that permits a new liquor store in their neighborhood at 7600 N. Lamar, just blocks away from a daycare center, schools, and churches. The council's 6-1 vote (Raul Alvarez was the only "no") was sufficient to override both the Planning Commission's recommendation, and a valid petition against the change filed by scores of neighbors.

"We are not trying to demonize liquor," says Crestview resident Karla van der Brook, who spoke against the rezoning at the April 10 meeting. "We are simply presenting facts about it and what its presence unfortunately does when it is so prevalent in a neighborhood's landscape, regardless of how well run the store is or how upstanding its owner is."

The site is located near the busy intersection of Highway 183, Anderson, and Lamar, prompting city staff to recommend a conditional overlay on the property to limit traffic. Currently the site is zoned CS, which permits other types of retail -- including 24-hour convenience stores with beer and wine sales, as well as restaurants serving alcohol, but not actual liquor stores, which require CS-1 zoning. Neighbors are concerned that Crestview is becoming the liquor hole of North Austin. Adding to their worries: news of yet another new liquor store opening up at St. John's and Lamar, bringing the total to four within a half-mile of each other.

Crestview has only recently begun its city-shepherded neighborhood-planning process, which will undoubtedly attempt to address the prevalence of CS-1 zoning in the area, but a final neighborhood plan likely won't be ready for the City Council for many months.

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