Planners: Deny variance for apartments
Panel fear firefighters could not battle a blaze if one broke out at tall building.
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.
Olive Rosin and Alexander Hadlock share a dance during the Fairy Tale Ball, which was held March 14 at the Pflugerville Public Library.
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.