Courtesy of Planning and Development Dept. public affairs manager Suzy Hartgrove, Swamplot now has a copy of the variance application submitted by the new owners of the vacant 7.68-acre site at the southwest corner of West Alabama and Dunlavy — where H-E-B has announced plans to build a new Montrose grocery store. At the property’s western border, Sul Ross and Branard streets used to lead directly into driveway entrances to the Wilshire Village apartments on the site. Under current development regulations, those streets would have to be connected to other streets (or perhaps each other) or turned into proper cul-de-sacs.
The variance would allow the property’s new owners to bypass this requirement and leave Sul Ross and Branard as they are — minus the driveway access.
Oh — the property’s new owners! Who are they?
Conveniently listed on the drawing:
Texas Abercrombie Family Interests, Ltd.
c/o Haden Abercrombie, Trustee
Haden Abercrombie Family Trust
4821 E. NASA Parkway, #8 SE
Pasadena, TX 77586
The drawing submitted on behalf of the Abercrombie Family shows a 10-ft. building line surrounding the end of Sul Ross and Branard, along with a note that “vehicular access . . . is hereby denied.”
The application argues that the variance would allow the new commercial development, called Lancaster Center, “to maintain separation of commercial vehicular traffic from existing single-family residential streets” and “[preserve] the quality of the residential neighborhood.” All cars and trucks would have to arrive and leave from West Alabama or Dunlavy. For that reason, residents of Sul Ross and Branard might want to support the variance.
But what do the developers of the property plan to construct just beyond the 10-ft. setbacks at the ends of those dead-end streets? And would the neighbors prefer that to the “large right-of-way bulbs” (as the application puts it) that would otherwise be required?
That’s hard to say, because drawings of the proposed development haven’t been made public. Hartgrove says, “We don’t have any further drawings for this property. They are not required to submit any site plans or drawings at this stage of the development.”
More to the point: The application states that being held to existing standards would “limit the practical development of this site.”
Here’s the complete text of the variance request:
Variance Request Information Form
Plat Name: Lancaster Center Subdivision
Company Name: Bury Partners
Submitted: 47 and 81
Specific variance is being sought and extent of variance:
A variance to the cul-de-sac standards is hereby requested such that no terminus design is proposed for the existing east ends of Sul Ross and Branard Streets, each approximately 300 feet east of Woodhead Drive.
Chapter 42 Reference: Sec. 42-131(b).
Statement of Facts:
(1a) The imposition of the terms, rules, conditions, policies and standards of this chapter would create an undue hardship by depriving the applicant of the reasonable use of the land;
(1b) Strict application would make this project infeasible due to the existence of unusual physical characteristics that affect the property in question, or would create an impractical development or one otherwise contrary to sound public policy;
Strict application of the cul-de-sac standards would create an impractical development that is contrary to sound public policy. The Section 42-131(b) cul-de-sac standards would require the dedication of large right-of-way bulbs at the ends of Sul Ross and Branard Streets that if strictly applied would potentially increase non-residential traffic through these established residential streets and would also limit the practical development of this site at the intersection of the two major collector streets, Alabama and Dunlavy.
(2) The circumstances supporting the granting of the variance are not the result of a hardship created or imposed by the applicant;
When the adjacent Lancaster Place Subdivision was platted decades ago the plan included only a tight
grid of streets with single-family residential lots and did not anticipate later commercial development in the area. The existing site was never platted but was also developed decades ago. The previous site development did not alter the stub ends of Sul Ross and Branard but still took access from them in a way that would not be allowed by current standards. The circumstances of the existing site existed well before passage of Chapter 42 and are not the result of hardships created by the applicant.
(3) The intent and general purposes of this chapter will be preserved and maintained;
Placement of this proposed commercial area at the intersection of the two major collector streets,
Alabama and Dunlavy, and separating commercial traffic from adjacent portions of the residential streets, Sul Ross and Branard preserves the quality of the residential neighborhood. Promoting the safe, orderly development of this subdivsion is consistent with the purposes of Chapter 42. The short existing length and proposed restriction of access to the ends of Sul Ross and Branard Streets preserves the general purpose of the Section 42-131(b) cul-de-sac standards.
(4) The granting of the variance will not be injurious to the public health, safety or welfare; and
Sul Ross and Branard Streets end only 300 feet from their intersections with Woodhead Drive and serve
only 10 residential lots each, so the granting of the variance will not be injurious to the public.
(5) Economic hardship is not the sole justification of the variance.
This variance is based on a desire to maintain separation of commercial vehicular traffic from existing single-family residential streets, so this variance request is not based on economic hardship.
- Wilshire Village coverage [Swamplot]