The Lakeway Zoning and Planning Commission voted unanimously Aug. 9 to deny recommendation of a proposed workforce housing complex at the intersection of Nightingale Lane and RM 620.
In voting not to recommend the Nightingale at Lakeway project to the Lakeway City Council, the seven-member commission cited a desire to stay true to the city’s adopted comprehensive plan and the plan’s land use map, which outlines the area of the proposed development as a future commercial development.
Planning commissioner Dan Vardell said city planners via the future land use map, or FLUM, designated the area as commercial because of several issues, including the traffic in the area along RM 620 and the desire to generate sales tax revenue from a “limited” tract of land.
“We spent the better part of a year working to create a harmonious document, something that looked ahead and tried to be internally consistent about what Lakeway wanted to do in the future,” Vardell said during a commission discussion. “A core component of that plan is the FLUM, and the FLUM designates this area as commercial.”
As proposed, the Nightingale at Lakeway project would construct 248 apartment units on an 8-acre lot with the idea that the units would be made available to individuals and families earning on average 60% of the area median income. Conine Residential Group, under the direction of Kent and Meg Conine, have brought the project to Lakeway for consideration.
During the meeting, Kent Conine told commission members that the city’s comprehensive plan and land use map do not have a workforce housing designation. Also, the Conine development team has looked in other areas and has been unable to find another suitable tract of land to build workforce housing - something the city badly needs to support local businesses, Conine said.
“The sites that are out there do not have sewer,” he said. “Our goal is to help Lakeway because you have a real problem here. Businesses are dying. They are closing.”
Prior to voting to deny recommending the project, the Lakeway planning commission held a public hearing on the proposal, which if built would see construction of a parking garage and a 1-acre public park. The majority of comments came from residents living along and near Nightingale Lane who spoke against the project.
Among issues of concern noted by residents was increased traffic along Nightingale and Meadowlark streets that would be created by the number of people living at the apartment complex and the amount of light and noise pollution that would be generated by the complex.
Maryann Carmichael, who lives on Nightingale, said she was not against multifamily housing, but that the project was wrong for her neighborhood because the streets, without sidewalks, cannot handle the traffic. Also, people who cannot find parking in the proposed parking garage would drive through the neighboring community to find parking, she said.
“Cars are like water, you can’t stop them,” she said. “Our roads are two lanes, too narrow.”