East Austin neighbors push back against rezoning near Tesla factory

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An acre of land located on the east side of Rogers Lane near Farm to Market Road 969 in east Austin is up for rezoning.

“I’m fighting rezoning in our neighborhood in particular because we are a very small street with substandard infrastructure,” said Maria Bowen, a concerned neighbor.

It’s a narrow road with no sidewalks, walking trails or public transit stops, and it’s in need of resurfacing. That’s how city staff describe the road, and so does Bowen. It’s for that reason, and the fear of displacement, she and other neighbors are calling on the Austin City Council to reconsider the zoning change.

Bowen filed a petition against the rezoning.

Petition filed by Bowen to the City of Austin’s Housing and Planning Department. (Source: City of Austin)

If the rezoning is approved, the plot of land would change from a single-family residence-standard lot, or SF-2 district zoning, to townhouse-condominium residential — or an SF-6 district zoning. This would allow developers the option to build anywhere from 10 to 12 townhouses or condos in the area, and Bowen worries the road would not be able to handle the influx of cars.

“There’s just a lot of concerns,” Bowen said. “Traffic-wise and safety.”

She believes the proposed changes have to do with her new neighbor just six miles south of her — Tesla.

“We know they’re coming and they’re eventually going to be here and they need housing, too, so it’s like a let’s hurry up and get it down and develop so people can move here,” she said. “I just feel like slowly we’re getting pushed out.”

In a statement from Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, who represents this area of the city, she shared her concerns surrounding the potential rezoning saying:

“Like the neighbors who have signed the valid petition, I am wary about adding density to a community that is in a food and transit desert far from the jobs, schools, clinics, and other services that are more abundant in our urban core. My team and I are working on counterproposal that would reduce negative impacts while also creating opportunities for community benefits such as street improvements and housing that won’t have a seven-digit price tag.”

Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison

City staff recommends the rezoning stating the change would be consistent with the city’s housing goals outlined in the Strategic Housing Blueprint. At this time, there are no plans for improvements to Rogers Lane. Staff reports if this zoning change is approved, “the rezoning would not generate enough car trips to trigger the requirement for a Neighborhood Traffic Analysis.”

This is not the only rezoning request in the area, there are two others. One of those is the Agave Annex rezoning. The request “proposes access to Rogers Lane.” The staff report adds, “For this rezoning proposal, a Neighborhood Traffic Analysis would have to be conducted to determine any efforts to mitigate impacts and potentially look at widening the street.”

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