Council’s vote during a Nov. 18 meeting falls in line with an overall trend of rejecting higher-density housing within city limits, especially considering just minutes prior to this agenda vote, the body engaged in a lengthy and robust debate pertaining to whether the residential density of a proposed development on Lohman’s Crossing drive, The Square on Lohmans, was too excessive.
An application submitted by landowner Cherry Knoll LLC states the company sought a zoning change from single-family residential and commercial to a multifamily status, which would have facilitated a development consisting of 252 multifamily units on 21.8 acres called Tacara at Lakeway, to be located at 15617 Flint Rock Road.
Cherry Knoll LLC also requested 1.8 acres of the property be rezoned for a greenbelt along the southern end of the property.
A letter from Land Strategies Inc., a firm representing the landowner, states Tacara at Lakeway would be a valuable addition to the city mainly due to housing and traffic benefits.
“The project will provide an appealing option for Lakeway community members who may not be able to afford high-income homes, such as young adults, service workers, or workers at the adjacent hospital,” the letter states. “By providing workforce housing, the project should alleviate traffic on RM 620 and other thoroughfares.”
Land Strategies Inc. representative Paul Linehan made several arguments in support of the development and issued a refutation of what he said was a common belief it would add to traffic. He also pointed out average home prices in Lakeway far exceed those of Travis County as a whole by almost $150,000. Rent at the proposed Tacara development would range anywhere from $1,000 to $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, Linehan said.
Salary requirements would be three times the tenant’s rent, according to Ory Kalenkosky of Casey Development Ltd., a company involved in the proposed apartment project. Kalenkosky echoed a sentiment of Linehan that if the city of Lakeway has an opportunity to keep its service workers working in the city, it should, and this development would help facilitate that effort.
“We are here to ask you to act wisely, and look at what your problems are in the future,” Linehan said. “You’re not serving the people that service you.”
But officials and residents in attendance at the council meeting did not buy into that line of reasoning. At least one Lakeway resident submitted a letter to the city in advance of the Nov. 18 meeting objecting to the development. Tom Woodard, who lives in a home near the proposed multifamily development, said the high-density housing would hurt the value of his home and make access to Flint Rock Road from RM 620, Lakeway’s busiest thoroughfare, impossible.
“And why should a rezoning request be granted?” Woodard wrote in a letter. “Presumably because the developer can make more money. How is that justification for a zoning change? The developer, Cherry Hill LLC, will build, sell and go home. But my home is right here.”
Woodard’s letter was similar in tone to the several residents of Flintrock Falls, the development that would border Tacara at Lakeway.
Grant John, a Flintrock Falls resident and the president of the community property owners association, told council his views represent the position of the Flintrock Falls board of directors.
“The proposed rezoning to build apartment units across Flint Rock Road from our main entrance would dramatically and unsafely increase traffic along a winding two-lane road, restrict our residents’ ability to safely enter and exit our community, reduce attractiveness of this segment of Lakeway and decrease our property values,” John said.
In the end, it was Council Member Louis Mastrangelo who led the vote to kill the rezoning request. While he said he did not have a problem with the quality of the apartments proposed, he did not see how the development fit with Lakeway’s ongoing comprehensive plan, especially given the multifamily density requested for the complex with regard the city’s future land use map.
“I don’t have any problem with what you’re building,” Mastrangelo said. “I think it’s great for the right place, but we have a comprehensive plan, and part of that is our future land use map. And even if I didn’t listen to all of the emails [against the development] I got, I could not look at this and say this fits within the comprehensive plan.”