The Planning and Zoning Commission met on Thursday, January 8 to address variance requests made by Mason Harrison Ratliff Enterprises, LLC in its quest to build a Sonic Drive-In at 1020 South Hwy 281.
John Patton, representing Austin Sonics, LLC., presented three variances that Sonic is requesting so that they can finalize plans to build a Sonic that would be located on South Hwy 281 near Blanco General. If the variances are approved, building could be completed by Summer 2009.
The proposed variances were: 1. Building a canopy within the required 15’ side setback on the north internal property line in order to accomodate the seven stall car drive-in canopy; 2. Deviating from the required 15% tree canopy coverage of the site, and instead using under-story trees as an alternative. They would also preserve the large canopy tree that already exists on the property. 3. Seek to have 83% impervious cover as opposed to the 65% limit that is required.
Beginning with the matter of the imepervious cover, Patton explained that Sonic would need an additional 5,331 sq feet in order to complete their plans. Mr. Patton suggested that in order to avoid setting a precedent of exceeding the impervious cover limit, that the City institute an exception for lots smaller than an acre that would allow the builder to exceed the 65% impervious cover cap as long as they do not go over a set amount, such as 10,000 square feet. He also suggested that they could install a system that would slow down the velocity of the water coming off the back portion of their parking lot so that the private road behind the property might not be washed out.
Brad Farbstein, P&Z committee member asked how Sonic planned to counteract the increased amount of watershed that would be created by adding those 5,331 square feet. Mr. Patton suggested that Sonic could agree to pay into a fund that would allow the City to build either retention ponds or a water drainage system once that area is developed more fully. Brad Farbstein stated, “Our objective is to protect the city and the property owners.”
Amil Baker suggested that with an inch of rainfall, approximately 3,000 extra gallons of water would be displaced because of the impervious cover. Dianna Schwind expressed concern for setting a precedent that would lead to overages on impervious cover for all new businesses that want to build in Blanco. Bob Riley suggested that perhaps a bigger lot would be more appropriate. Mr. Patton countered that the lot in question is the one that will work with their budget.
Mr. Patton requested that Sonic not be required to adhere to the 15% tree canopy ordinance, but allow Sonic to install under-story trees and preserve the lone existing tree on the property.
Mr. Patton also requested that Sonic be allowed to build a parking canopy that would encroach on the property line, within the 15’ easement requirement. He indicated that at some points the canopy would touch the property line, but that cars would not go over the line when parked.
Diana Schwind motioned that the recommedation to the City Council for the variance be denied at this time. Brad Farbstein seconded the motion. After final discussions, the board voted 3-2 to deny recomendation.
Mr. Patton was informed that he would have the opportunity to plead his case to the City Council.