Wooten Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2012
President Joshua Merritt called the meeting to order at 7 pm.
Vice-president Carolyn Spock made a motion to approve the minutes from the November meeting. The motion carried.
Steve Rogers, chair of the Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team (WNPCT), updated us on notices concerning ordinances that his committee has received from the city. First, we discussed the Restricted Lawn Parking Ordinance, which makes it an enforceable offense for neighbors to park in their front yards outside of the driveway. After discussion, Burton Anderson made a motion that we opt in for this ordinance. Seventeen members voted to opt-in, and six members voted to opt-out, so the motion carried. Also, Steve told us about the Mobile Food Vending Restrictions Ordinance which limits the hours of operation for mobile food vendors in the neighborhood and the distance that they must maintain from homes. Betsy Thaggard moved that we continue to stay opted in for this ordinance, and the majority of members agreed. The motion carried. Also, Steve agreed to either post details of these ordinances on the wootenna website or bring the particulars of these ordinances to the next WNA meeting.
Steve Rogers encouraged WNA members to come to the next WNPCT meeting on Monday, January 16 at Genuine Joe’s at 7 pm. At the meeting, the committee will opt in for both the Restricted Lawn Parking and Mobile Food Vending Restrictions ordinances, as decided by the WNA voting members. Also, the WNPCT will be discussing the application to change the zoning at 8100 Burnet Road and the possible development there. Finally, the WNPCT will electing a new chairman and secretary by September. The chairman will serve as a liaison with the city regarding any issue related to zoning and will need to commit to a 2 year term. Steve encouraged anyone interested in this position to attend the upcoming meetings.
President Merritt shared a bulletin that he had received from the city regarding local street closures during the upcoming “Get Your Rear in Gear” race on Sunday, March 4. Several streets, including parts of north Shoal Creek and Burnet Road, will be closed between 8 and 10 am. He offered to scan the map of street closures and upload it onto the wootenna website.
President Merritt spoke about possible development at 8100 Burnet Road. This is the 5 acre area that houses Ross and the now-vacant Chuck E. Cheese. Joshua was invited to a meeting with the board of the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association, Steve Zettner of Sustainable Neighborhoods, a representative from Alliance Residential, a development company, and an attorney who represents Alliance. Alliance Residential has filed an application with the city to change the zoning of 8100 Burnet. They have applied for Multi-Family 6 (MF6), which has no density cap. They plan to build wood-framed, 3 story apartment buildings with a total of 270-300 units (ranging from efficiencies to 3 bedroom units) and a large parking garage. Alliance describes the apartments as “upscale” and “slightly higher end.” Efficiencies would start in the mid-600s/month. The developers intend to sell a small area on the corner of Ashdale and Burnet for retailers to develop 2 street-front shops. The development would not be “mixed-use” because the shops would be separate from the apartment buildings.
Joshua and the other community leaders had the opportunity to voice concerns at the meeting. Joshua and the North Shoal Creek neighborhood representatives shared their concerns about the increase in traffic and the change in traffic patterns. Apparently, the Alliance Residential representatives cited a study that claims that the number of trips in the area would actually decrease. Also, the neighborhood leaders expressed concern about the density of the apartments, which is unlimited under MF6 zoning.
Adam Turner questioned the developer’s choice of MF6 zoning over VMU (Vertical Mixed Use). Joshua explained that it’s more difficult for developers to get funding for VMU as opposed to MF6. Also, VMU would require the developer to use steel infrastructure instead of wood, increasing the cost of the building materials. Joshua understands that developers increasingly push for MF6. Once an area is zoned for MF6, it is difficult to change the zoning.
Steve Rogers wondered if there is a way that we could request that the developers limit the density of the apartment buildings. Joshua assured us that the developers would put in writing the number of units and exact height of the buildings before they began construction.
Joshua explained that Sustainable Neighborhoods has a stance which they are currently drafting. Because our interests are similar, he suggested that we band together with Sustainable Neighborhood and the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association. Even if we have additional concerns, he feels that we share many concerns. Steve pointed out that North Shoal Creek does not have a neighborhood plan, which makes them more vulnerable to developers. Adam Turner agreed that North Shoal Creek has been good to us. A few years ago, they helped us work with a business owner who wanted to install a massive LED sign in a business park near 183 and Burnet.
Victor Engel wondered about the impact of the new apartments on the older apartment complexes in our area. Joshua said that the developers addressed this issue at the meeting. They believe the area is “up and coming” and that development is sure to coming to the area soon. Joshua sees their point that development is inevitable; however, he would like to see that the development be well-made and well-managed. He pointed out the current Ross store and abandoned Chuck E. Cheese is not ideal. Adam agreed that he would like to see responsible development. Opie Gonzalez expressed concern about the condition of wood-frame apartments 10 years from now.
Victor also wondered if neighbors would experience a loss of privacy with the added height of the apartments. Joshua replied that the proposed 3 story buildings would not be significantly taller than most homes.
Joshua agreed to continue discussing this potential development with North Shoal Creek and Sustainable Neighborhoods. He will continue to keep us informed. At some point, there will be a public hearing that we can all attend, but he has not received notification yet. Also, he suggested that we invite an Alliance Residential representative to an upcoming WNA meeting.
Next, Burton Anderson, the chair of the Neighborhood Watch Committee, updated us on his committee. He has been leading committee meetings at Genuine Joe’s over the past month to gather resources and ideas for increasing safety in the neighborhood. Burton is planning a lunch with John Luther, who leads a patrol program in the Barton Hills neighborhood. Burton invited anyone interested in becoming a Neighborhood Watch Captain to attend the “Train the Trainer” program. The next training sessions will be Saturday, January 31 and February 28. He has also invited Officer Chris Megliorino, our district police representative, to attend. Also, Burton plans to include a recruitment piece for Neighborhood Watch Captains in the upcoming newsletter. Also, Burton announced that the upcoming Commanders’ Forum will be on February 7 at 6:00 pm in the McCallum High School cafeteria; this meeting will provide community members an opportunity to communicate with police. He also plans to attend the upcoming Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership (C.L.A.S.P.) meeting.
Chris Gregory reported on Neighborhood Watch signs. We can order “Crime Watch” signs that are personalized with Wooten Neighborhood Association name. These signs are 24” x 18” and cost $494.25 for 15 signs (about $33 per sign). This does not include the cost of posts. Patty Colligan has created a map of the locations of all the existing Neighborhood Watch signs; many are old and rusty. She has also starred areas on the map where she feels crime watch signs would be good to have (such as near entrances to the neighborhood). Marilyn Rogers reported on sign installation procedures. The city must install any signs; we cannot dig up or install new signs on our own. There is a grant (Neighborhood Partner Program) that will cover the cost of installation. The city wants to install all the signs at once and needs permission from the adjacent property owners in order to install or replace signs. Without the grant, the cost of installing a new sign would be $80 and the cost of replacing a sign is $50.
Adam Turner suggested that we cover the signs with clear contact paper in order to protect them from graffiti. He made a motion that we approve up to $600 on signs and that we pursue the grant to cover the cost of installation. Victor seconded the motion, and all members voted in favor of the motion. Joshua pointed out that we can re-address the motion if the committee has additional fiscal needs. He also encouraged the committee to make the map of potential signs public so that everyone can have input on where the signs will be installed.
Next, Joshua opened up the meeting to community concerns. Suzanne expressed concern about the dangerous crossing conditions at the crosswalk that goes across Anderson near Genuine Joe’s. She has taken video of herself crossing while cars are zipping by. She has already filed a complaint with the city, but they have not followed up. She requested a flashing pedestrian light, but the city claimed that this would “impede traffic.” Adam wondered if she had spoken with the owners of Genuine Joe’s. He feels that they might be able to help her advocate for safer crosswalk conditions with the city. Joshua promised to bring up this issue at the next Sustainable Neighborhoods meeting and to follow-up with us at the next WNA meeting.
A WNA member wondered if Joshua had been in contact with the Crestview Neighborhood Association regarding the families who had been displaced due to the recent gas fire. Joshua agreed to contact the Crestview NA president later tonight.
Adam Turner wondered if we had considered holding a Wooten Festival of some sort, such as a kite festival. Joshua said that we had discussed the possibility of a neighborhood barbecue in Wooten Park. BJ Golden had agreed to chair this group, and Joshua will follow-up with BJ. In the meantime, Adam will contact Violet Crown to see what kind of permitting is needed in order to plan this type of event.
Betsy Thaggard moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 pm. The motion carried.