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Council declines duplex regulations

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

A proposed development project in District 1 has caused heartburn for the neighborhood, and some members of the Lockhart City Council.

According to City Planner Dan Gibson, a developer recently proposed a Trinity Street development that would add several duplexes to the neighborhood. Though the ini

tial proposal was defeated in the Planning and Zoning Commission in large part because of neighborhood objections, the project spurred Councilmember Juan Mendoza to approach his colleagues with a measure that would add additional restrictions to the city’s Zoning Ordinance.

The change proposed by Mendoza would require a specific use permit for all duplexes located in a Residential – Medium Density area, where duplexes are currently allowed by right, provided the lot meets specific standards.

“If you do require a specific use permit for all duplexes, that would give the neighborhoods a say in every duplex that gets built,” Gibson warned.

Currently, duplexes are allowed by right on any lot that exceeds 8,500 square feet, provided those lots meet the minimum requirements for width and depth. On lots less than 5,500 square feet, a specific use permit is already required.

“We’re hurting for rental property and for affordable housing,” Mayor Lew White said. “And the development would fill a need that we currently have.”

Mendoza said the proposal came forward as a result of requests from constituents in his District, who were concerned about the possibility of increased traffic and residential density in the area. The proposed duplex development is located in a neighborhood dominated by established, single family homes.

After hearing the pros and cons of sending the Zoning Ordinance to the Planning and Zoning Commission for revision, the council offered the consensus that the ordinance is sufficient as currently written, and they declined to make changes.

Councilmember John Castillo offered his support to Mendoza, saying the change should be examined further. However, the five remaining members of the Council overrode that support.

In other business, the Council heard a proposal from City Manager Vance Rodgers to apply for an economic development grant that would allow the city to add infrastructure to western portion of the City Limits, near the intersection of Highway 142 and SH130.

“Those properties are the most frequently sought-after by companies that are requesting raw land for development,” Rodgers said. “Water and sewer are necessary in that area because they aren’t currently available.”

The cost for adding the infrastructure, which includes water and sewer lines, as well as lift stations, would cost as much as $1.2 million, but a grant from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration could cover up to 80 percent of that cost.

According to Rodgers, the match funding could be acquired in a variety of manners, including a partnership with the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation, and a public-private partnership with property owners in the area.

If Lockhart wins the grant, the project could move forward as early as January 2016.

As the discussion progressed, Councilmember Jeffry Michelson noted the key issue in attracting businesses is currently the lack of available industrial buildings. He suggested the council consider, in the near future, finding the funding for a spec building to help with business recruitment. Rodgers noted, however, city staff is focused on the percentage of prospects that are interested in either raw land or build-to-suit projects.

In brief news:

The Council entered an agreement with Bank of the Ozarks as the depository institution for the City of Lockhart.

They approved an agreement with the State Comptroller’s Office that will see the City paying back upwards of $182,000 in sales taxes over the next 60 months. The refund was triggered by a request from two vendors in connection with the SH 130 Construction project, who filed for a refund of improperly paid sales taxes. Because the refund was granted to the vendor by the state, the City then became responsible for returning to the State the monies received for sales taxes.

The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the third floor Council Chambers in the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex. The meetings are open to the public and telecast on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.

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