Council: Dance the Last Dance ...
The last meeting before seven becomes 11
By Michael King, Fri., Nov. 28, 2014
The days dwindle down to a precious few, and the calendar shows only one more meeting for this historic, seven-member edition of the City Council. Not sure if they'll have any ceremonial recognition of the occasion, but they will certainly have plenty of work to do. Last week's agenda (Nov. 20) featured 182 Items, and the incumbents worked their way through quite a bunch – but they also punted or continued many to Dec. 11, and even a few to 2015 – so the new 10-1 Council is already accumulating its own tasks.
One issue that may or may not drift into next year is the Decker Lake golf course proposal, which – after plenty of debate between proponents and opponents – looked at one point like it might move forward, until Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros' concerns about potential water issues (even using reclaimed water) triggered anger from Mayor Lee Leffingwell (who supports the project), an apology to Meszaros for Leffingwell's treatment of him from Council Member Mike Martinez, and a postponement to at least Dec. 11 (Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole initially proposed a postponement until late February). In the meantime, stakeholders and staff are expected to discuss the options.
In other matters, Council:
• Approved a hybrid version of the CodeNEXT (land development code) revision process, with amendments by Council Member Bill Spelman finding a flexible sweet spot between options 2 and 3 (middling revision vs. full revision), essentially depending on specific circumstance.
• Approved an interim measure on Downtown construction overnight concrete pours, for 120 days limiting night pouring to between 7pm and 2am, while stakeholders and staff revisit the matter – including the discussion that laying concrete is a much more complicated, weather-and-traffic conditioned process than most observers ever imagined.
• Finally adopted a "coyote conflict management strategy," that would emphasize discouraging interactions between coyotes, people, and domestic animals and de-emphasize trapping and extermination. We're waiting to hear from the coyotes.
• Took a step forward on the Springdale Farms rezoning battle, with approval of some but not all of the farm's requests to enable it to hold public events despite some neighborhood opposition. The debate is hardly settled; see above.
• Extended the Austin Pets Alive! lease on the former Town Lake Animal Center.
Matters postponed or scheduled for Dec. 11 review include: revisions of city auditor's responsibilities; a public hearing on swimming in Barton Creek downstream of the pool ("Barking Springs"); a public hearing on the Colony Park Master Plan; a lengthy list of zoning hearings either postponed or approved on first reading only; third reading of the "microunit" proposal that would enable small accessory living units in single-family residential neighborhoods.
Lesson for January: A Council's work is never done.
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