After 10-year effort, North Shoal Creek neighborhood plan pushes forward for Austin City Council approval

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Following a decade-long push, the North Shoal Creek neighborhood plan progressed forward Tuesday and now awaits Austin City Council approval.

Bisected by Steck Avenue between Burnet Road and Shoal Creek Boulevard, the North Shoal Creek neighborhood is home to roughly 3,700 residents, and the population has stayed relatively stagnant since 1990. Neighborhood plans are legal documents that guide land use in a specific neighborhood and are drafted in collaboration between the city and neighbors. The North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association has been vying for a neighborhood plan since 2008.

Highlights of the plan as approved by the Planning Commission on June 12 include directing growth to the outside corridors, zoning for missing middle housing along Steck Avenue, expanding accessory dwelling unit allowance to residential properties where they can fit and encouraged connectivity between the core and the outer edges of the neighborhood.

The missing middle housing along Steck Avenue was the lone point of contention between the neighborhood, staff and commissioners. Kevin Wier, president of the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association, said neighbors objected because they thought increased density and height along the road would create a physical barrier through the neighborhood.

Commissioner Greg Anderson said the addition of the missing middle housing zoning—duplexes, triplexes and townhomes—represented a compromise between the neighbors and city staff. However, a handful of commissioners were not as quick to lend support.

Commissioner Karen McGraw said she was “disturbed” by the proposed added density along Steck Avenue. She said the proposed up-zoning would not help with the stability of the neighborhood.

Although City Council was scheduled to take up the plan Thursday, June 14, Jeff Engstrom, a senior planner with the City of Austin overseeing the case, said staff will push for a postponement to Aug. 9 so council has time to digest Planning Commission’s recommendation. The City Council goes on a month-long recess through July.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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