Plan­ners: Deny vari­ance for apart­ments

Panel fear fire­fight­ers could not bat­tle a blaze if one broke out at tall build­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Fran Hunter Smithville Times con­tribut­ing writer

The Pflugerville Pub­lic Li­brary hosted a Fairy Tale Ball on March 14. The dance night has turned into one of its most pop­u­lar youth events. Many girls at­tended wear­ing dresses that evoked their fa­vorite Dis­ney char­ac­ters.

Smithville’s Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion voted to rec­om­mend de­nial of a 47-foot height vari­ance for a four-story apart­ment build­ing pro­posed for First and Main streets. Com­mis­sion­ers said they were wor­ried fire­fight­ers might not be able to bat­tle a blaze if one broke out at the build­ing.

“I love (the project), but I have fire con­cerns,” said Com­mis­sioner Guy Farmer, who made the mo­tion to rec­om­mend de­nial of the vari­ance. Com­mis­sioner Caro­line McClimon sec­onded Farmer’s mo­tion.

The com­mis­sion makes rec­om­men­da­tions to the City Coun­cil, which ul­ti­mately de­cides whether to ap­prove re­quested vari­ances.

De­vel­oper Sid Millspaugh is propos­ing to build 17 con­dos and 16 apart­ments along Main Street and in an at­tached build­ing along First Street.

McClimon led the com­mis­sion­ers’ dis­cus­sion at their March 7 meet­ing, say­ing she was ap­ply­ing the four cri­te­ria that were used by coun­cil mem­bers to eval­u­ate the Byrne Street Apart­ment project last month at City Coun­cil. She specif­i­cally ref­er­enced lan­guage about the detri­ment “to pub­lic health, safety or wel­fare.”

Coun­cil mem­bers de­nied a lot size vari­ance for the Byrne Street Apart­ment project, pro­posed by Coun­cil Mem­ber Troy Streuer, who was seek­ing to build 10-unit apart­ment com­plex on prop­erty too small to sup­port the project, ac­cord­ing to city code re­quire­ments.

McClimon ar­gued the pro­posed fourstory apart­ment project would not fit the cri­te­ria the coun­cil uses. She said that fire sup­pres­sion rat­ings would neg­a­tively in­flu­ence in­sur­ance rates with the ad­di­tion of tall build­ings.

“All prop­erty own­ers on Main Street would have in­sur­ance raised sig­nif­i­cantly,” McClimon said, re­gard­ing the ad­di­tion of a four-story build­ing. “But I’m an at­tor­ney, not an in­sur­ance agent.”

Millspaugh im­me­di­ately with­drew the vari­ance re­quest from coun­cil con­sid­er­a­tion af­ter the com­mis­sion rec­om­mended its de­nial.

Fear of a fire down­town be­came the ma­jor ob­jec­tion to those speak­ing both for and against the project.

Ted LeVieux, who planned to speak for the project, with­drew his sup­port, say­ing he now has ques­tions.

Cham­ber of Com­merce di­rec­tor April Daniels, who said she was speak­ing solely as the lessee of the build­ing that abuts the project, said she fa­vored Millspaugh’s pro­posal but ob­jected to the lack of a fire plan in place.

Those who spoke in sup­port of the project said it would help bring more to live down­town, and pro­mote green build­ing ma­te­ri­als for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and rooftop decks for the views.

“I think it’s a di­rec­tion we want to go,” res­i­dent Mag­gie Leary said.

The 100 Main Project is one of three projects in a mas­ter plan pro­posed by Millspaugh. Fourth-floor con­dos would be set back from the street so they would not be vis­i­ble and negate any “canyon ef­fect.” They would have rooftop pa­tios.

The build­ing also would in­clude 6,000 square feet of re­tail space on the lower level and an 80-space park­ing garage lo­cated to the rear.

PHO­TOS BY MEGUMI ROOZE

Olive Rosin and Alexan­der Had­lock share a dance dur­ing the Fairy Tale Ball, which was held March 14 at the Pflugerville Pub­lic Li­brary.

FRAN HUNTER/ FOR

Sal­lie Blay­lock (from left), Steve Sim­mons, Carol Sny­der, Ann Fulcher and Bruce Blalock in­spect plans for the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment at 100 Main St.

Da­mon Ong dances with his daugh­ter, Olive, at the Fairy Tale Ball. The dance event was open to all ages, and also fea­tured light re­fresh­ments.

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