STOP REZONING AND EXTENSION OF MOUNTAIN SHADOW

STOP REZONING AND EXTENSION OF MOUNTAIN SHADOW

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Residents of Mountain Shadows Neighborhood started this petition to Austin Mayor; Austin City Council; Austin Planning Commission

Residents in the neighborhood of Mountain Shadow Drive, Austin oppose the proposed rezoning of land between Mountain Shadow Drive and Hwy 71 and the extension of Mountain Shadow Drive.

Mountain Shadows Drive is classified by the City of Austin as a substandard street.  The street is only 16.5 feet wide (a generous measurement); and it has no shoulders, side of the street parking, or sidewalks. School buses are typically 8 to 9 feet wide; and pickup trucks 6.5 to 7 feet wide.   A school bus and a pickup could not safely pass each other on Mountain Shadows Drive without leaving the pavement.   Two schools, the Austin Eco Bilingual School and the Monarch Suzuki Academy, are located on this street.  Parents bringing their children to these two schools presently park on the pavement during peak traffic hours. Mountain Shadows Drive is the sole exit for the neighborhood.  There are limited sight lines at the exit to Old Bee Caves negatively affecting the egress – a curve feet to the south and the intersection of Travis Cook Road to the north.

The land between Mountain Shadows Drive and Hwy 71 is covered by a restricted covenant.  The covenant states that a building permit for the site on this tract “shall not be issued until Mountain Shadows Road has been constructed from State Hwy 71 to the north property line at 44 feet of pavement within 70 feet of right-of-way, or at a design standard as otherwise may be approved by the city.”  The courts have generally ruled that when restrictive covenants are at variance with development codes the more restrictive standards shall be applied.

The extension of Mountain Shadow Drive is included in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP). 

The ASMP also has a project identified for the existing section of Mountain Shadows Drive. This project would include reconstructing the street to urban standards with curb and gutter, two vehicle travel lanes, all ages and abilities bicycle facilities, and sidewalks. Both the new roadway project and the project to expand the existing roadway would be coordinated closely to minimize any impacts to affected property owners and ensure consistency along all of Mountain Shadows Drive.  However according the ASMP team “the city does not have an active project to construct it, nor has any funding been identified to pursue this project.  At this time, it is simply a concept that is desired based on mobility and safety needs in anticipation of future growth”

 

A rezoning application has been filed to rezone the tracts of land between Mountain Shadows Drive and Hwy 71.  The request includes modifying language to allow the extension of Mountain Shadow Drive by the developer to 25 feet of pavement with 50 feet of Right of Way.  The draft of the Austin Street Design for a Level 2 road such as Mountain Shadow recommends a minimum of 26 foot of pavement with 74 feet Right of Way.   The optimal design for a Level 2 road is a pavement width of 26 feet, and a 92-foot Right of Way with 40-foot pavement to allow for bicycle lanes, sidewalks, curbs, and roadside parking.   The proposed extension by the developer would not ensure consistency along all of Mountain Shadows Drive as called for in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.  Future roads should not be constructed at less than minimum standards but should be constructed to optimize future growth and in accordance with the restricted covenant. 

1.      Neither a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) or a Neighborhood traffic analysis has been provided to the affected neighborhood.  According to the Austin government website, a TIA is required if the expected number of trips generated by the project exceeds 2,000 vehicle trips per day, and a neighborhood traffic analysis is required if the trips generated exceed 300 vehicle trips per day over the existing uses. Estimation of traffic per family unit is estimated as high as 20 trips per day.  Even at half that, the 234 unit proposed complex would place 2,340 more vehicles a day either turning onto a substandard road or attempting egress onto Hwy 71.

2.      Safety is a major concern.  In the last year there has been at least one fatality on that section of Hwy 71 from a vehicle exiting an apartment complex and a hit and run accident involving a teenage pedestrian on Mountain Shadow Drive.  Children exiting vehicles parked at the local schools would also be at increased risk.

3.      Research has shown that when streets designed to carry a high volume of traffic (like Hwy 71/290) are overloaded or there is a congested intersection (such as the Y at Hwy 290/71 or William Cannon/ 290) motorists tend to seek residential streets for shortcutting.  The Texas Department of Transportation has described Hwy 290/71 as the 53rd most congested roadway in the state. Construction scheduled for this roadway is likely to increase this congestion for the next few years. It is logical to assume that motorists will tend to use Mountain Shadow Drive as a shortcut, increasing neighborhood safety problems.

4.      The proposed development and road extension would affect reasonable access for emergency and transit services.  A fire department is located near the proposed exit on Hw71, and increased traffic could delay response times.  There are presently no transit services near the proposed complex.  Decreasing pavement size would hinder the future development of safe transit stops.

 

In addition to the road problems, the proposed rezoning would contribute to other neighborhood concerns.

1.       Police staffing is limited at this time, especially in the outlying areas of the city.  The infusion of over 234 new residents in this one complex would exacerbate this situation.

2.      Public schools would be adversely affected by the influx of new students.  Small Middle School serves the students in this neighborhood.  The student teacher ratio at Small Middle is 18:1, which is higher that the Texas state level of 15:1 and has increased from 16:1 over five school years.  Oak Hill Middle School has class size averages that are above district and state averages.  Austin High School has a student teacher ratio of 16.7:1; fifteen of the high schools in the Austin Independent School District have better student/teacher ratios.

3.      There are no parks in the neighborhood.  The proposed extension does not even include bike paths

4.      The proposed development is near the Barton Creek Habitat Preserve and will negatively affect local wildlife in the neighborhood.

5.      The proposed development will increase the noise pollution and light pollution in the neighborhood.

6.      The proposed zoning favors corporate and absentee investors to the detriment of homeowners and small local developers.

 

The proposed tracts are now appropriately zoned to allow for residential, light commercial, civic, and agricultural uses.  We respectfully request that you reject the proposed rezoning and the inadequate extension of Mountain Shadow Drive.

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