Housing density up for debate as council reviews North Shoal Creek Plan

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A neighborhood plan up for a vote Thursday at Austin City Council could change what kind of homes can be built in the North Shoal Creek neighborhood — an area bound by MoPac Expressway, Burnet Road, US 183 and Anderson Lane. 

The 150-page plan lays out what kind of development the neighborhood would like to see and allow moving forward. 

“One of the desires was to maintain the character of the residential area,” said Kenneth Webb, vice president of North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association. 

Webb said the association has been working on the plan for several years. 

The plan has already earned a first reading approval from the council, but this week, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan proposed a couple of amendments.

He wants to change the plan’s wording, so more duplexes or triplexes can be built in what’s called residential interiors, areas further away from major roads.

“One and two-story houses and buildings that look like houses, but they could be duplexes, triplexes,” the council member said. “We’re not trying to create four-story buildings in the middle of neighborhoods, but we want to allow folks to live in the types of neighborhoods that I live in, in District 6.”

He continued, “I live in a duplex in my district. They look like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood.”

The latest version of the plan posted on the city’s website suggests the Planning Commission has also made some changes. 

Those include allowing “missing middle” housing on Steck Avenue if that street gets redeveloped and allowing accessory dwelling units in the residential interior. 

“Missing middle” housing could be townhomes or condos.

“In today’s world, in today’s Austin with young families, finding housing is very challenging,” said Susan Somers, who lives in north Austin. 

She said her family is renting right now because buying a home close to downtown is simply too expensive.

“We would love to be able to have more options that are in neighborhood interiors,” she said. 

Webb told KXAN some areas of North Shoal Creek are already zoned in a way that if those buildings get redeveloped, duplexes could be built. 

He’s hoping the plan will pass without Flannigan’s or the Planning Commission’s changes. 

“Steck Avenue is really not suitable for that type of development because of its very nature,” Webb said about the Planning Commission’s proposal to allow multi-unit homes. “It has a single lane in each direction with two bicycle lanes.”

He also said the plan already allows for higher density along the corridors, so he’d like to see the residential interior remain the same. 

The public has one more chance to weigh in on the plan before the City Council is expected to look over the proposed amendments and vote.

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