Zoning!

Have you ever wondered about Zoning? Probably not because it sounds boring, is rather confusing and not appear to be of importance. Actually, Zoning is a very important topic to understand and keep up with because it affects all residents in our neighborhood.

This article is intended to educate our neighborhood on topics important to maintaining the integrity of our historic neighborhood. Through such education we are striving to empower each property owner so he/she can make informed decisions before remodeling, tearing down, and starting new construction. We also want to equip property owners with the tools and knowledge needed to help understand how to positively impact new development.

Too often many homeowners feel like “victims” to the threat of new development, not knowing where or how to begin voicing concerns and objections. By knowing some basic facts about Zoning you will be on your way to empowerment. Zoning is the Site Development Standards required by the City of Austin for all new construction and alterations to existing properties. Defined in these Standards are different Zoning Districts, such as Single Family (SF), Multi Family (MF), Neighborhood Commercial (LR). Fortunately, Old Enfield has a combination of only SF and MF zoning and no commercial zoning, which results in an intact residential neighborhood.

Most Single Family Zoning in Old Enfield is SF-3. The SF-3 requirements set forth the by the Site Development Standards require: a minimum lot size of 5750 square feet, minimum lot width of 50 feet, maximum number of dwellings on lot of one, maximum height of 35 feet. A series of setbacks is imposed which refers to the distance you must maintain from your property line to any other buildings. Typically, the front yard must be 25 feet, street side yard 15 feet, interior side yard, one or both, must be maintained at five feet and rear yard at 10 feet. Maximum building coverage allowed is 40 percent and maximum impervious cover is 45 percent.

In our neighborhood there were many homes constructed prior to the adoption of these ordinances that do not comply. So within the ordinance there are exceptions that allow for certain alterations and additions. Any variation from the Zoning ordinance that does not fall within these exceptions may be subject to a variance request from the City of Austin Board of Adjustment.

Most Multi Family Zoning in Old Enfield falls under the standards of MF-3. The requirements set forth by the Site Development Standards require: a minimum lot size of 8,000 square feet, minimum lot width of 50 feet, maximum number of dwellings on the lot is 36 per acre, maximum height is 40 feet.

A series of setbacks is imposed which refers to the distance you must maintain from your property line to any other buildings. Typically, the front yard must be 25 feet, street side yard 15 feet, interior side yard, one or both, must be maintained at five feet and rear yard at 10 feet. Maximum building coverage allowed is 55 percent and maximum impervious cover is 65 percent.

Where a MF property is next to a SF property a special condition exists: Compatibility Standards apply. Compatibility Standards are additional development regulations established to modify the effects of the more intense residential development impact on its adjacent SF property. SF property owners wanting to construct new or additions first go directly to the residential permitting office at which time their plans and property survey will be reviewed for compliance with the Zoning provisions. If there are no issues a building permit will be issued. But should there be issues that do not comply with the Zoning provisions a variance will be required. A variance application is accomplished by filing an application to the Board of Adjustment. Public hearings are held and prior to these hearings all property owners within 300 feet will be notified in writing by the City of the variance request. Each property owner is given the opportunity to voice any objections.

When an MF property owner applies for additions or new construction, the process is different. They must first apply for a Site Development Permit. Once approved the owner may then apply for a building permit. No building permit may be issued for an MF property without a Site Development Permit. Property owners within 300 feet are automatically notified of any Site Development Permit request. At that time notified property owners are able to participate in the process. Should there be issues that do not comply with the Zoning provisions a variance will be required. An application to the Board of Adjustments must be filed similarly to the above.

If you do not know your zoning or are curious about the Zoning around your property, you can obtain this information from One Texas Center first floor map room. You will need your tax parcel ID number. That number is available online at traviscad.org.

This information was originally published in our Spring 2005 Newsletter, and was contributed by Tina Contros and Marlene Romanczak.

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