Neighbors speak out against development plan at Austin Oaks

Neighbors concerned with Planned Unit Development.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — West Rim Drive is a peaceful place to walk and play. Madelon Highsmith wants to keep it that way.

“We want to make sure the uniqueness of Austin is preserved in some ways, even though we have to grow and densify, we want to do it in a proper way,” says Madelon.

Madelon has lived in the Austin Oaks neighborhood for two years and has spent half that time speaking out against a proposed Planned Unit Development, known as a PUD.
It’s hard to miss the signs in neighbors’ yards, that read “STOP THE PUD”.

The development is slated for Spicewood Springs Road near MoPac. Neighbors say initial plans included 17-story high rises. Madelon says that’s just too tall. She wants any new development capped at five stories, which she says is currently the average for most buildings in this area.

“The general consensus for the neighborhood is we’d like for it to stay consistent with what’s going down MoPac,” says Madelon.

Neighbors also worry about more traffic on the streets.

“Because of how busy MoPac is and the through-streets people use to cut through to get to MoPac,” explains Madelon.

Madelon and her neighbors will share these ideas with the developer, in hopes of reaching a compromise over Austin Oaks’ new look.

The attorney for the developer issued a written statement saying the collaboration will redevelop this area in a way that satisfies neighborhood values and is economically feasible.

To help the developer and neighborhood understand the changes, a “charrette” is being held—it’s a process that brings the developer and community together, to collaborate on a design to develop the area.

The meeting is from 6-8 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Dr., in room B-18. If you couldn’t make it Tuesday night, you can attend another informational meeting at the church, Wednesday morning from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The big meetings you’ll want to attend is on December 16 and January 12. That’s where they’ll be collecting input and requirements for the development. The actual  drawings and design work will happen January 24 through January 29.

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