On March 19, Lakeway City Council approved amending the city’s zoning code to give the city more oversight on what can be built near schools and residential areas.
Shannon Burke, Lakeway director of Building and Development Services, said the city re-examined the zoning code because of the controversy over Recovery Ways, a post-detox addiction recovery center that was slated to be built near Lakeway Elementary School. Following a large public outcry, the city in February rescinded a site development permit it had previously issued for Recovery Ways.
Under the amended zoning code, almost all businesses looking to build and operate near a school or neighborhood must receive a special-use permit. A special-use permit requires a public hearing and approval from City Council and the Zoning and Planning Commission.
Professional offices such as architects, real estate agents and engineers are the only businesses that will not need a special-use permit to build and operate near a school or residential area.
“This will allow the City Council to make sure that the proposed uses are appropriate for a given location,” Burke said.
The amended zoning code expands the types of commercial and office developments, regardless of location, that must get a special-use permit. Convalescent homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and liquor stores must now be approved for a special use permit.
“The bottom line of these changes is that City Council has a greater involvement, and the public also has a greater involvement in the decisions regarding the appropriateness of planned uses,” Burke said. “And the ordinance will be more explicit in listing which uses are allowed. We believe these are positive and timely changes.”
Under the old zoning code, Recovery Ways, which qualifies as a convalescent facility, did not require zoning review or approval from City Council or ZAPCO. Following a heated town hall meeting in which Lakeway residents expressed outrage at having Recovery Ways near a school, city leaders pledged to re-examine the zoning code to prevent such an incident from happening again.