Cedar Park Town Center residents granted town hall meeting

The Cedar Park City Council opted to put a hold on rezoning 42.861 acres at Town Center, and instead agreed to schedule a town hall meeting and zoning reconsideration. The land sits on the southwest corner of Toll 183A and E. New Hope Drive, north of the 49.114 acres rezoned from downtown district to general retail in December.

Ten Town Center residents at the Jan. 12 council meeting spoke against rezoning the area, master planned in 1998 as a downtown "shop-and-stroll" destination. They cited safety hazards, property devaluation and traffic congestion as cause for concern.

"We feel like it could potentially affect our quality of life and street safety," Jean Dase told the council. "Cedar Park Town Center was built with narrow streets and it's difficult for emergency vehicles to get up and down our streets. We feel like we don't have room for intercity traffic."

The applicant filing the rezone request asked to postpone the measure to allow more time for negotiations, said Rawls Howard, Cedar Park director of planning and development services. Mayor Bob Lemon asked Howard to proceed with a presentation about the rezoning and allow residents to address the board.

"I also would have supported a postponement," said Town Center resident Evelyn Athas. "I know myself and many of my neighbors don't feel we have enough information to speak intelligently on the subject. This is a very intense change for our area."

In his presentation, Howard said a 20-foot landscaping buffer, a six-foot masonry fence, and at least a 20-foot setback would separate the retail space and residential property. The city would limit vehicle traffic at the end of Big Beng and Big Spring roads, and use Alamo Plaza as a thru street.

The rezoning request detailed plans to change the property from downtown district to planned mixed-use development. Richard Maiers, who represented developer D.R. Horton at the meeting, said the primary difference would be a vertical development, potentially with two- and three- story buildings, rather than the planned single-story retail market. He said the tract's current zoning would allow 300,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, 230,000 sq. ft of apartments or condominiums and space for 1,700 cars.

"What we are asking for is considerably less commercial than that," Maiers said. "It's just in a different configuration. It's vertical instead of horizontal."

Council members agreed to remand the request back to the Planning and Zoning Commission and initiate the process for a town hall meeting. The lot remains zoned downtown district.

"Obviously, we want to get things as soon as possible," Maiers said. "But we want buy-in from as many people as possible so we are willing to do whatever the council wants us to do."

By Emilie Lutostanski
Emilie reported on education, business, city and county news starting in 2009. After a stint as a radio reporter and writing for the Temple Daily Telegram, she joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2011. In 2013 she was promoted to editor of the Cedar Park | Leander edition, covering transportation, development, city and education news. In February 2015 she advanced her passion for online media and was promoted to manage digital content, metrics analytics, and quality assurance as well as branding and social networks in various inaugural roles at the company, including community manager and digital managing editor. Most recently in 2017, Emilie expanded her responsibilities to include sales support as Community Impact's first digital product manager. She oversees digital product development, enhancement, and monetization strategies; online content innovation, processes and efficiencies; and company-wide training for Community Impact's digital offerings.


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