Austin Business Journal reports, "a pilot program intended to improve Austin's rezoning process is set to be considered by City Council.

The six-month pilot program would extend deadlines for zoning and rezoning applications in addition to neighborhood plan applications with the intention of giving developers and landowners more time to refine their requests and avoid potentially missing a deadline that would require them to start the process from the beginning.

For example, land use cases will be extended from a 60-day consideration period to 120 days while whole neighborhood plan amendments will increase from 90 days to 120.

Jordan Feldman, a principal planner with the city, said the proposed changes would decrease the need for staff postponements, providing more predictability for applicants, commissions, Council members and community stakeholders.

After gaining the unanimous endorsement of the Planning Commission on Sept. 26, the proposal is expected to go before Council during its Oct. 19 meeting.

If approved by Council, the program will join the city’s ongoing effort to improve its land use process including an overhaul of site plan review.

Developers and other rezoning applicants often need more time to get through rezoning review, according to Lauren Middleton-Pratt, who became the city’s planning director in May. She said during the Sept. 26 meeting that about a dozen developers and landowners will likely benefit from the extension over the course of a year.

"I wanted to find tools to allow the process to be more predictable," she said.

The change gained the endorsement of the commission members who generally favor code and process changes meant to accelerate development.

"We have a new director over the department who feels this will help make things more efficient for all involved, so I’m happy to trust her judgment at this point," Greg Anderson, a member of the Planning Commission, told Austin Business Journal.

The program will also lengthen the period for Council to hold a public hearing on cases that have been placed under indefinite postponement.

Middleton-Pratt said the pilot program would give staff time to process a backlog of cases, aiding zoning staff and building more trust and predictability with the community.

The program was recommended by the Planning Commission under the condition that the commission and Council both have an opportunity to reconsider the program before its further implementation at the end of the six months.

Another stipulation set by the commission requires the Planning Department to make a report on the program after three months.

Under the drafted program, the city manager would be authorized to end the program without Council approval and Council could consider extending the program by an additional six months."


Source: Austin Business Journal 

Written by: Mike Christen

Published: October 2, 2023

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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