Austin Oaks PUD possible postponement tops Thursday's Austin City Council agenda

Thursday's Austin City Council meeting will touch on a variety of hot issues.

Thursday's Austin City Council meeting will touch on a variety of hot issues.

Second and third readings of the proposed Austin Oaks planned unit development, or PUD, highlight Thursday's Austin City Council agenda.

The controversial planned-unit development, which was approved on first reading, took the City Council into the morning hours of the last meeting of 2016. However, it is yet to be seen how new Council Member Alison Alter, who represents District 10, might impact the latest vote.

During Tuesday’s council work session, Alter called for a two-week postponement of the item so she could talk with the neighborhoods affected by the potential development. Alter said the project’s developer, Spire Realty, approved of the postponement.

Here are some other notable items anticipated for discussion during the council's second meeting of the year:

Item 40: Begin process to require new residential and commercial construction to be built solar-ready 


The code amendment would require that new structures have enough room for the installation of solar-energy technology. The proposal would not require new structures to install solar technology. Mayor Steve Adler expressed concern over the wording of the resolution during Tuesday’s council work session. The resolution is to initiate city staff to begin developing a code amendment to bring to various boards and commissions for review—it is not an endorsement of the policy by council. Adler wanted to make it clear that council supports research into the idea, not the implementation of it.

Item 42: Update code to mandate community benefits in expedited permitting applications 


Last year, council passed a resolution to create an expedited permitting program to partially alleviate complaints about the city's arduous building permit process. The program, which requires applicants to pay a fee in order to speed up the process, is expected to go into effect by spring. On Thursday, council will look to pass a resolution to initiate a code amendment that would require participants in the program to ensure certain community benefits through their project. These benefits include worker protections such as higher minimum wage and enhanced safety training for labor workers.

 

Item 43: Enable video conferencing during the citizen communication portion of each City Council meeting


Here’s a story we wrote on the video conferencing pilot program last month. The resolution calls for video conferencing to be offered at the Ruiz Branch, the Manchaca Road Branch and the Spicewood Springs Branch by March 2. By May 4, the resolution calls for the program to be extended to the Carver Branch, Little Walnut Creek Branch, Yarborough Branch, Old Quarry Branch, Southeast Community Branch and the Hampton at Oak Hill Branch.

The item was postponed last week after District 2 Council Member Delia Garza voiced concern that the program would not reach her district. Since the postponement, The Old Quarry Branch and the Southeast Community Branch were added to the list.

Item 45: Revisit Austin Resource Recovery curbside textile collection contract


As part of the city’s Zero Waste by 2040 goal, Austin Resource Recovery negotiated a contract with Simple Recycling for a curbside textile pickup pilot program. However, ARR failed to host stakeholder meetings, and nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army worry the contract would negatively affect their business. Thursday’s resolution calls for a termination of Simple Recycling’s contract and the development of recommendations for a contract that would not impact the city’s nonprofit organizations. Simple Recycling, ARR and the nonprofit organizations met this week to discuss possible options.

Item 56: Elysium Park rezoning proposal


The application is to rezone the roughly seven-acre tract at 3300 Oak Creek Drive to allow for a potential 90-unit development. Via the land development code, the rezone will require a three-fourths council approval, as a valid petition was submitted to city staff with 58.8-percent of the neighbors within 200 feet of the tract protesting the application. This item will not be heard prior to 4 p.m.

Item 58: Require the Historic Landmark Commission to review demolition applications for structures that are 50 years or older and dedicated to certain civic uses


City staff has asked for a postponement of this item. This proposed ordinance is relevant to the recent scrutiny placed on the Historic Landmark Commission and the sharp increase of demolitions citywide.

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An earlier version of this article included an incorrect description of what Item 42 entailed.