Burr Oak property owner gets go-ahead for project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Kevin Schammel is one step closer to getting an apartment complex built at the former Burr Oak Manor nursing home site.

At Tuesday night's Planning Commission meeting, the committee passed a recommendation that the city approve a zoning change for the lot from a R-1 (single family residential) district to a PDR (Planned Development Residential) district, which allows multiple family housing, but also allows conditions to be attached. Along with the approval came a heap of conditions that will have to be met in the plans before it goes to a council vote.

Those conditions generally involve more specificity: Landscaping, recreational vehicle parking, parking stall dimensions and setting a schedule for developmental phases are a few of the areas that Schammel will have to detail for the council before a vote will take place.

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The recommendation passed by a 5-3 vote, with Janet Anderson, Gordon Kuehne and Glenn Mair opposed.

About 10 residents of the neighborhood, as well as Scott Richardson, a lawyer representing some of the neighbors, were in attendance to make sure their points were heard.

Sean Miland, a resident of the neighborhood, said Fourth Street NW, which runs adjacent to the property, is already too busy, and increased traffic would cause major safety issues in the area. He also expressed concerns that an apartment complex would bring the wrong sorts of tenants to the neighborhood and that the complex would not be run properly.

"I think this is the straw that's going to break the neighborhood's back," he said.

Mark Owens, also from the area, said the plans were so vague, he did not understand how anything could be voted on yet.

This is not the first time the issue was before the planning committee. They, and the city council, dealt with the case in February. At that time, Schammel was seeking a continuance on the non-conforming use permit that the nursing home had operated under, but he was denied. Issues raised by residents at those meetings were similiar to ones discussed Tuesday. Safety issues topped the list, but other concerns include a decline in property values, noise and parking concerns.

Richardson tried to convince the commission that, according to city policy, nothing could be voted on at the meeting. However, based on Assistant City Attorney Craig Byram's recommendation to the contrary, the commission went ahead with the vote.

Schammel's proposal is slightly different than the previous one. He has reduced the number of apartment units from 24 to 18 and increased the number of parking spaces from 30 to 36.

"I believe this shows not only a willingness to compromise with the neighbors, but also address the concerns with the traffic," Schammel said.

Commission member Sue Howard agreed and said the accommodations show good faith.

Kuehne said this would be more of a problem than the 70-resident nursing home had been.

"Living next to a nursing home … is going to create less noise, congestion and other sundry things that are going to be associated with an apartment complex," he said.

Commission member Roger Stratton was absent from the meeting.

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