Small business forced to pay thousands on zoning ‘technicality’

Photo by metropolis of Austin

Monday, February 7, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

The Zoning and Platting Fee Tuesday blamed the city’s intricate code following listening to the case of a landscaping business enterprise remaining forced to rezone its house at a cost of 1000’s of pounds. 

The 1.7-acre assets at 13561 Pond Springs Road in Northwest Austin is house to Excellent Cuts Landscaping, and was earlier a nursery for lots of a long time. Last 12 months, the city’s code section cited Ideal Cuts for functioning a small business not authorized in Neighborhood Business (GR) zoning. Due to the fact the town deems landscaping to be “construction sales and services” – a use only permitted in the more extreme General Commercial-Combined-Use (CS-MU) zoning – it requirements a zoning adjust. City staffers suggest GR-MU zoning, which would in result drive the enterprise either to go or to shut down.

Nikelle Meade, agent for the owner, advised the Austin Keep track of that her customer has “had to go to incredible issues and price to satisfy what amounts more or less to a technicality.” In accordance to Meade, the proprietor has been seeking to work out this challenge with the city for just about two years. Code enforcement cited the property past February, meaning the operator has accrued countless numbers in fines in addition to a $11,331 payment to alter the zoning. In accordance to the quotation, fines accrue at up to $1,000 for every working day immediately after a 30-day grace time period.

“We will be asking for any quotation fines to be waived in the interest of justice,” Meade claimed. “We come to feel strongly that no citation need to at any time have been issued.”

Meade explained fines will keep on accruing until eventually City Council approves the new zoning. The zoning transform request was submitted in September. The circumstance has a date in Municipal Court in the coming months to kind out the make a difference. 

Great Cuts works by using the home to store its pickup vehicles and landscaping tools. Some neighbors object to the rezoning and have complained about sound from vans and staff socializing and actively playing songs. 

ZAP commissioners sympathized with the owner and advisable CS-MU zoning. “I would be all right granting CS zoning,” Chair Nadia Barrera-Ramirez reported. “It’s high-priced to make this small business shift.” Barrera-Ramirez pointed out that the area has a lot of business use and that there are numerous other landscape businesses and nurseries alongside Pond Springs Street. 

Although everyone was on board with CS zoning, there was some discussion on how substantially floor area ratio – a measure of density – must be allowed. Commissioner Betsy Greenberg wanted to restrict the web site to 1:1 Significantly to retain the density down. Commissioner Hank Smith, on the other hand, desired to enable 2:1 Significantly, in scenario the website is redeveloped into houses down the line.

“The 1:1 Considerably offers me problem,” Smith explained. “I’d like to be equipped to accommodate more housing mainly because that’s what we want to see.”

The commission voted 7-4 to approve CS-MU zoning with 2:1 Considerably. The zoning would also arrive with a conditional overlay that boundaries precise undesirable employs and retains a 50-foot vegetative buffer to protect a close by house from the small business.

Commissioners assumed the business’s ordeal merited action. “I consider the code must be fixed,” Greenberg explained. She proposed a new landscaping expert services classification that would be authorized in GR zoning, which the Codes and Ordinances Joint Committee could suggest to Council. 

“This is a truly torturous course of action obtaining to rezone properties, to see us, just for landscaping,” Greenberg reported.

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