Lakeway council approves zoning change for higher density housing, condo development

The new R-9 zoning district will increase multifamily housing density from 12 units per acre to 20 units per acre, a standard within the region, according to city officials. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)
The new R-9 zoning district will increase multifamily housing density from 12 units per acre to 20 units per acre, a standard within the region, according to city officials. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)

The new R-9 zoning district will increase multifamily housing density from 12 units per acre to 20 units per acre, a standard within the region, according to city officials. (Grace Dickens/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lakeway City Council made changes to multiple zoning ordinances Jan. 3, creating a new multifamily zoning that allows for higher density housing and reinstating the ability of property owners to request condominium rezoning.

One change council made was creating the R-9 zoning, a high-density multifamily residential zone that could allow up to 67% more housing unit density. Council Member Keith Trecker cast the lone vote against the zoning change. The R-9 zone raises the maximum of 12 units per acre to 20 units per acre and allows buildings up to three stories or 40 feet, according to city documents. R-8 was previously categorized as high-density zoning, but was changed to medium-density to differentiate between the two zones, Assistant City Administrator of Lakeway Joseph Molis said.

“[These items] are both staff responses to multiple requests to look into a more diverse housing product within the city of Lakeway,” Molis said. “What staff is doing is trying to provide decision-makers and developers with more tools in the toolbox in order to get that job done.”

Upon reviewing multifamily developments within the surrounding region, the city discovered many of these developments exceed the 12 units per acre housing threshold currently permitted within the R-8 district, Molis said. The changes to city ordinances intend to address the need for more workforce housing or a sustainable mix of housing options within the city, he said.

“I know that our small businesses are struggling and are about to go under because they have trouble hiring, because not enough people can live here,” Council Member Laurie Higginbotham said. “It has become next to impossible for police officers and teachers, and people who work in restaurants and people who work in day care centers to find any place to live here. This is a new issue we cannot afford to ignore.”


In addition to increasing housing density for a new residential zone, the council unanimously approved reinstating the city’s condominium zoning district, R-5. The city retired the condominium zoning district in 2006 to prevent additional property from being designated for condominiums, but staff had to update the zoning code in December 2010 to address existing properties that had already received condominium zoning as well as annexed properties with existing condominiums, according to city documents.

There are 29 parcels of land totaling 335 acres currently zoned as condominiums in Lakeway, city documents said. With the new changes, condominiums are an active zoning site that provides more flexibility for developers, but the updated zoning does not mean the city must approve the zoning for a particular piece of property, Molis said. These changes still give council the discretion to accept or deny development proposals on a case-by-case basis determined by its alignment with city goals, he said.

“Each project will be looked at in turn; it’s not an automatic workforce housing or affordable housing situation. This council has turned down developments that people are describing that have been brought to council before, simply because they were a bad fit for the neighborhood and the area that they were in,” Mayor Pro Tem Louis Mastrangelo said. “To protect the city, we will follow our comprehensive plan and look at each opportunity as it comes with understanding that we may not approve it.”
By Grace Dickens

Reporter, Lake Travis/Westlake

Grace is the Lake Travis/Westlake reporter for education and city government. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2021 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in journalism and geography.