Public Notice: Trick or Treat!
Scary times for CodeNEXT
This is the last week to enter your comments and suggestions, to be considered for the final draft of the CodeNEXT land development code rewrite. And in what someone must have decided was fitting for this frightful process, Halloween night is the deadline. I've written this before here, but it bears repeating: If you own, or rent, or have an interest in a property in Austin, take a few minutes to see how its land use might change under the new code. See the draft code and map, and leave comments on either, at www.austintexas.gov/codenext.
Tuesday's complicated set of meetings of the Zoning & Platting and Planning commissions (see "The Final Countdown," p.14), were notable in that the final output consists largely of an elaborate hand-drawn work plan prepared in advance by Planning Commission Chair Stephen Oliver. In a valiant effort to keep this wobbly train "running on schedule," Oliver's timeline allots one meeting each to address nine "hot topics," or unresolved issues in the code, before the end of the year. The timing is meticulously laid out, with the exception that there's none allowed for actual consideration of each of the topics, or drafting, discussion, and passage of actual recommendations. For instance, Tuesday's meeting is logged as the date to cover compatibility – the thorny issue of how different building types and uses coexist. Yet compatibility remains stubbornly unsettled: a 90-minute session afforded barely enough time for citizen communication, a truncated staff presentation, several commissioners expressing their very different views on how compatibility should work, and no discussion. But, check that one off, I guess – compatibility is done! (?)
Meanwhile, AIA Austin, the influential architects' association, has been holding their CodeNEXT Charrette 2.0 Testing in a series of sessions throughout October, and will present their work at a public Charrette Reception, Wed., Nov. 1 from 6-8:30pm at 7Co, 1501 E. Seventh. AIA had seven teams study the effect of the code on seven neighborhood types: Neighborhood Low-Density Residential; Central Neighborhood Residential; Neighborhood Edge Mixed-Use; Corridor Transition Zone; Regional Center; Activity Corridor; and Downtown. On All Saints' Day, they invite the public to see the results. On-site parking is limited, which may or may not be a political statement in this context, but in any case, the organizers encourage you to consider public transportation for your visit. www.aiaaustin.org for more info.
What use may be made of that work remains unknown, like so much of the CodeNEXT process. The deadline for public comment will have expired at midnight the night before. But staff has made it clear that that won't really matter anyway. The third draft will be purely their own product, and they're not planning on showing their work: where changes have been made from the previous draft, where suggestions were incorporated or rejected, where there remain open questions or differences of opinion. AIA or the land use commissions may have their own recommendations, but they'll have to be considered as amendments to draft three, sometime in the new year.
This one's been a long time coming, and bears close watching as a project that should make a big difference in the city's future development. The City of Austin officially launched its search this week for a master developer for the Colony Park Sustainable Community, to be built on 208 acres of publicly owned land in Northeast Austin – close to a third the size of the entire Mueller development, and in a direct line from Northeast Austin to Decker Lake to fast-growing Manor. The city Economic Development Department issued a Request for Qualifications, asking for respondents with "experience in developing large scale, master planned communities through public-private partnerships utilizing development characteristics and entitlements similar to those detailed in the Colony Park Master Plan," which envisions "a transformative pedestrian-oriented, mixed-income, sustainable community that includes single-family, multifamily, commercial, and mixed-uses, [plus] facilities for education, job training, healthcare, and other public services that will be compatible with existing adjacent neighborhoods." The City will evaluate the RFQs and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the shortlisted applicants to submit a development concept and business plan, for recommendation to City Council next summer. See more info at www.austintexas.gov/colony-park-rfq.
The "New" Shoal Creek: Shoal Creek Conservancy hosts the first Shoal Creek Tour of the 2017 Fall Season, showing off the "new" Downtown stretches of the Shoal Creek Trail, between Pease Park and Town Lake. Meet at 10am Sat., Oct. 28, at Pease Park, 1100 Kingsbury (just off 12th & Lamar). Or see the master plan at www.shoalcreekconservancy.org/trailplan.