Leander zoning commission recommends changes to future land-use plan near Savanna Ranch

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After several residents spoke against having an industrial district near the Heritage Grove Road and Oak Grove Road intersection, the Leander Planning and Zoning Commission decided at its meeting Aug. 10 that while industrial development is necessary to the city, industrial area can be reduced to protect the neighborhood and environment.

In Leander’s existing future land use plan, which recommends how properties should be used in the future, the area directly north of Heritage Grove between Oak Grove and the railroad are intended for industrial use.

In July, Leander City Council denied a request from the Building Abatement Demolition Co. Inc. for heavy industrial and heavy commercial zoning in the area after residents spoke against the proposal. The request was in line with the existing future land-use plan, according to city documents.

Due to the proximity of the potential industrial district and the Savanna Ranch neighborhood directly to the west, city staff proposed to create a 500-foot mixed-use corridor in between to provide transition.

The proposed version still drew ire from some residents in the nearby neighborhoods at the meeting. They discussed environmental and neighborhood safety concerns for an industrial district established in the future.

Grace Eaton, a local resident, said heavy industrial development could pollute water wells in the neighborhoods and could worsen the traffic. Resident Brian Robert added he worried trucks would drive through the neighborhoods and threaten the safety of residents.

Courtney Qessay, who said she recently moved to Leander, said she is excited about the growth of the city and is not opposed to commercial and mixed-use development near the neighborhood. However, she said she thinks the 500-foot “buffer zone” near industrial development as proposed would deter potential retail tenants.

“No one’s going to want to lease a space […] directly next to an industrial park,” Qessay said.

Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis said an amendment needs to be put in place in a timely fashion to prevent potential zoning requests for industrial use of the property.

Zoning Commissioner Marshall Hines echoed Yantis’ point.

“The actual intent of tonight is to create a stop-gap solution that doesn’t put us in a position where we’ll have to show up for […] something where they are convincing people to [put]industrial in your backyard, so to speak,” Hines said.

Hines motioned to push the west boundary of the industrial district farther east and extend the mixed-use corridor included in the proposed design. He also recommended adding a buffer zone to the south edge of the planned industrial district, designating the land that houses a concrete plant as a future commercial corridor once the concrete plant is no longer there.

The commission unanimously recommended the amendment made at the meeting. The recommendation will go to Leander City Council for final approval.

OTHER ITEMS

    1. At the same meeting, the commission approved the final plat of approximately 19.21 acres of the planned Palmera Ridge subdivision near the future extension of Azul Lagoon Drive. The plat was approved in March 2017, but the project was delayed due to the coordination between city staff and the developer. The approved final plat plans to bring 47 single-family homes and one homeowners’ association parkland to the area, city documents show.
    2. The commission also directed city staff to bring back a future land-use plan amendment that would replace the proposed neighborhood center designation at the intersection of Journey Parkway and CR 175 with a mixed-use corridor. The southwest quadrant of the neighborhood center, which was located on the Simpson Tract, was removed from the plan at the last commission meeting after several residents spoke during the meeting in favor of the removal.

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Yue "Stella" Yu covers Lake Travis, Westlake, Leander and Cedar Park. She is a journalism student at University of Missouri. Prior to this summer, she was a city government reporter at Columbia Missourian. Three things she loves the most: jazz, dogs and community journalism. Feel free to reach out at 573-529-5725 or email her at yyu@communityimpact.com
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