Committee Report: Perry Committee Meeting with City Staff

Following are notes that were generated/reviewed by committee members to let you know about information learned related to zoning and city ordinances in a meeting with city staff. No recommendations were formulated or actions taken by committee members at this meeting.


  1. Meet with city staff representing: Zoning, Transportation, Historic, Sound, Floodplain, Neighborhood Planning to discuss questions regarding potential development at the Perry Estate.

Meeting Notes – 7-30-12 Perry Meeting with City Staff


City of Austin Staff: Jerry Rusthoven & Clark Patterson / Zoning, Keith Mars / City Arborist Office, Steve Sadowski / Historic Landmark Office, Joe Alezmon  / Transporation, Maureen Meredith / Neighborhood Planning, Don Pitts / Music Division.

Developer’s Agent: David Hartman.

Neighborhood Ad-hoc Perry Committee Members: Linda Guerrero, Reed Henderson, Bruce Fairchild, Bart Whatley, Rafi Anuar.

  1. SOUND

    Don Pitts/City of Austin: City moving away from relying on simple decibel measurements at property line (which has been difficult to consistently enforce), to working with commercial property owners on permanent sound mitigation strategies. Ordinances allow residential properties to generate up to 75db at the property line and sound is limited during certain hours. Commercial properties have limitations on outdoor sound/music levels and hours as well, though commercial property owners must have a sound permit--either a temporary sound permit for 16 days throughout the year or an annual outdoor sound permit. Under a new process, the city is now working with owners on sound mitigation measures prior to issuing annual sound permits. One example is the Allen House, where a band shell was constructed to shield sound. Staff says this solution has been a success and alleviated neighbor’s complaints. Developer’s attorney mentioned that a band shell would not be possible due to the historic nature of the formal gardens. Other sound mitigation strategies include special directional speakers. Sound on a commercially zoned property cannot be generated within 100 feet of a residential property. The city only proactively addresses sound on commercial properties—residential noise is handled on a complaint basis. Don says that San Jacinto is as much a factor, if not more, to sound from downtown than is Waller Creek. The city can do sound tests before commercial sound permits are granted.

  2. TREES

    Keith Mars/City of Austin: Commercial development must identify all trees 8 inches and larger. Protected tree classification starts at 19 inches and there are limitations on how close building can take place and how much of the canopy can be removed. Generally development may not take place in the inner half of the critical root zone. The critical root zone is defined by a radius that is tree diameter times 12. Heritage tree classification starts at 24 inches, and these unlike other classifications cannot be removed unless there are special circumstances. Impacts/removal of trees over 30 inch diameter require a public hearing. Any trees 8 inches are larger that are allowed to be removed require mitigation.


    Steve Sadowsky/City of Austin: A Local Historic District application was submitted for the estate, but withdrawn before staff had a chance to review it. The National Historic Listing will be studied if the property is submitted for city historic designation. City Landmark designation is only interested in the exterior of a building.


    Joe Alezmon/City of Austin: The city will evaluate a proposed development for potentially needing a Traffic Impact Analysis, regardless of a developer’s claims about not needing a TIA. Vehicle trips generated are calculated per national standards relative to building use. Periodic event use can be harder to predict, but it is usually found that the traffic is not generated at peak traffic times.


    Jerry Rusthoven/City of Austin: The city does not require site plans to be submitted with rezonings, so it is difficult to ensure any early development plans will be developed as shown. However zoning can structured in a way to give some assurances primarily through conditional overlays that further modify standard zoning restrictions. A lot can have different zonings in different portions of the lot. 

    Existing uses could be expanded on site. The site could potentially be subdivided for single family or duplex development without a zoning change or public hearing. Jerry mentioned that although there are a lot of directions development at the estate could take, he could not imagine that the city would every allow the mansion to be demolished, even though it is not currently zoned historic. 

    Outdoor wedding activities requires an Outdoor Entertainment use, which is a broad category. The city does not have an outdoor entertainment light category that would restrict to small gatherings. A restrictive covenant would be necessary to fine tune exact activities that could take place under Outdoor Entertainment use. Tools to tighten up regulations on a property include conditional overlays (restrictive modifications on base zoning/uses) and restrictive covenants, but these items are detailed and need to be worked before cases get to City Council public hearings.


    The property owner would like permission to file for an amendment to the neighborhood plan to change the property from a Civic designation to Mixed Use. A meeting with the neighborhood plan contact team regarding this will be sought. Feeling this will be a complex zoning case, the city estimates that any rezoning and modification to the neighborhood plan could take 4 to 6 months.

-Bart Whatley