Austin environmental board gives thumbs down to Grove at Shoal Creek

grove-at-shoal-creek-web-750xx812-456-44-0After another marathon session, the proposed Grove at Shoal Creek mixed-use project in Central Austin did not get a stamp of approval from the Environmental Commission.

By a vote of 6-4, the advisory board charged with determining whether the 75-acre design achieves superiority as a planned unit development, or PUD, decided against the designation. One of the 11 board members was absent from the meeting.

The project now goes to the Zoning and Platting Commission next week.

It’s the second time the Environmental Commission had taken up the matter this month. At another lengthy session on June 1, when dozens of people spoke out against or in favor of the project.

Garrett Martin, the head of developer ARG Bull Creek Ltd., said pursuit of the project as a PUD under the terms laid out by the Environmental Commission would make it “economically unviable.”

Without the PUD designation, the developer would have to go through a more-traditional zoning process that could delay it even further.

Martin said he intends to move forward with the project as proposed, despite the thumbs down from the Environmental Commission and “will continue to work with the community and city leaders to address concerns as we go through the approval process.”

The proposed development is near 45th Street and Bull Creek Road, a stone’s throw from MoPac Expressway.

The Zoning and Platting Commission is expected to take up the matter at its regularly scheduled meeting June 21. Though that board is likely to consider the Environmental Commission’s determination, it will have its own criteria to judge. Ultimately, the final approval of a PUD designation for the project would be determined by City Council.

Contentious debate

Though the Environmental Commission vote appears fairly close, the rift between representatives was deeply rooted in philosophical differences about the commission’s role in Austin’s often enigmatic development process and the commission’s long-term legacy.

Andrew Creel, a commissioner appointed by Councilwoman Ora Houston, vehemently criticized the successful motion by commission Vice Chair Peggy Maceo, which stated that the Grove at Shoal Creek did not achieve superiority with respect to drainage, tree preservation, parkland dedication, sustainability and other related matters. The motion was made around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday night after lengthy discussions with staff and the developer and was ultimately approved with a few modifications.


Austin Business Journal