Editor’s Note: This issue marks the inauguration of “From the Archives,” an occasional series in which the Pecan Press will reprint articles from times past that still seem relevant and of interest. And indeed, as to the first article in this series, references to the North Hyde Park NCCD have popped up at any number of recent HPNA and Contact Team meetings. This piece, announcing and celebrating the adoption of this planning document by City Council, appeared in the September 2005 issue and was written by Karen McGraw, then chair of the Hyde Park Planning Team.
The North Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District (NCCD) was adopted by the City Council on August 18, 2005. All property in the boundaries was included except for 4505 Duval—the Oak Park Apartments—and one other lot that had a notification problem.
The Planning Team reached agreement with the owner of the Oak Park Apartments on August 1st. By the time you read this we expect that this will also be adopted. Thanks to the City for their tremendous help and diligent staff. Thanks also to the City Council members, each of whom voted for this rezoning! This completes the rezoning for our neighborhood and culminates many previous planning efforts that go back as far as 1985 when Austin neighborhood leaders (including Hyde Park neighbors) got the NCCD tool into the city code. Many, many neighbors have devoted their time and energy to these efforts and we should all be proud of this great achievement.
The NCCD will require new development to be compatible with existing traditional development patterns. Several things of note are: the Planning Team negotiated for months with the owner of 4500 Duval (site of current auto repair business) with a concern for safety since the site has all open curb and no defined driveways. In recent weeks, Council Member Brewster McCracken came forward and offered to help get the construction of proper sidewalks and driveways included in the current reconstruction of 45th Street. With the help of the City Manager and City staff and the cooperation of the property owner, this safety improvement made the Planning Team comfortable to allow various auto-related uses to be permitted on this site in the future.
The agreement reached between the Planning Team and the owner of Oak Park Apartments permits a future mixed use development near the intersection of 45th and Duval (that already had commercial zoning) and up to 45’ height in its interior, and multi-family use (current zoning) on the rest of the lot with reduced height and other protections adjacent to single family uses. Mixed use will also be permitted at 4510, 5011 and 5012 Duval with maximum height of 35’. Several property owners along Avenue A agreed to reduced building heights in exchange for slightly higher impervious cover and a reduced setback along Avenue A.
Of most importance are the revisions to the single family areas. Front yard parking will only be allowed under certain conditions, height limit is reduced to 30’ and 2.5 stories, front yard fences may not exceed 4’ and must be 40% open, driveway widths are reduced, ground floor uses are required (no stilts), garages are not allowed on the front except in certain cases, setbacks must line up with traditional houses (west of Duval) and various other protections to the traditional character. The lot size for duplexes and two-family use remains 7,000 square feet except on Avenue A where it is 6,000 square feet. While there are many new provisions that are more restrictive, there are also provisions that are less restrictive and should be of help to property owners while still preserving neighborhood character. These include setback averaging, rebuilding of non-complying accessory buildings, larger garage apartments on some corner lots and some reduced setbacks.
Finally, we agreed with the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department to two programs to facilitate affordable housing. Single-family attached use (otherwise a loophole allowing super-duplexes) may now only be used to subdivide an older duplex if one side is an affordable unit. Size limits control this and should control the occupancy. The other program allows some leniency in redeveloping multi-family properties on Duval Street if it includes 10% affordable housing units. Keep in mind that these changes only affect new development and new permits, not existing development. The ordinance should be available soon.