Burr Oak issue heads back to commission

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Residents living around the former Burr Oak Manor nursing home left Austin City Council chambers Monday night without a word of public testimony having been said.

The rezoning of the lot from an R-1 (single family residential) district to a PDR (Planned Development Residential) district, approved at a recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting by a 5-3 vote, was sent back to the commission to ensure the proper procedure was being followed.

Assistant City Attorney Craig Byram said a conceptual plan must first be approved by both the commission and the city council before the final package can be approved. This means a vote on that final package will not come until June.

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Because the former Burr Oak Manor issue has been ongoing since November, Byram said, the Planning and Zoning Commission thought they were familiar enough with the details of the proposal to vote on it. However, to eliminate the possibility that the court system would have to get involved, it was recommended the city make sure that things were done in the proper order.

Tracey Chamberlain, council member for the 3rd Ward, had some comments for residents of the neighborhood and for Kevin Schammel, owner of the Burr Oak property. He said Schammel, as a property owner, was a neighbor in the area.

"It seems to me that neighbors ought to be able to sit down and work some of their problems out," he said.

Chamberlain suggested two or three representatives meet with Schammel to come to a solution to the problem.

"If you're unwilling to do that, I'm unwilling to vote for you, whichever side you're on," he said, remarking that he could abstain if neither side would agree to talk.

Scott Richardson, a lawyer representing some of the neighbors, said they are willing to talk.

In other business, the first three applicants for early retirement were approved as part of the city's plan to cope with probable funding cuts. The council approved them without discussion, as they will the next three eligible city employees who apply. After that, each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Monday night's meeting was the last for City Administrator Pat McGarvey, who will officially retire on April 30.

Mayor Bonnie Rietz thanked McGarvey for the large role he has played over the last 11 years in that position.

"Austin is a better city," she said. "It's a much better city for your having been here."

McGarvey said council members and the citizens of Austin have made wise decisions over the years that have helped the city grow and improve.

"I say thank you to each of you," he said. "Good luck and best wishes for the future."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at matt.merritt@austindailyherald.com