The Planning Commission hearing on Edgewick condominiums’ request to gate Carlson Drive has been postponed again until July 24. Wendy Rhoades of the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department, the case manager, says the case had most recently been scheduled for a hearing on June 26, but city staff requested a postponement to give the city and the applicant more time to investigate.
Carlson Drive is a private road and the property of the Edgewick development, but it is also one of only three east-west streets that allow public access from Parker Lane to points east in the 1.3-mile stretch between Oltorf Streeet and Ben White Boulevard. Rhoades says there are three proposed alternatives that would preserve some connectivity:
- Carlson could be converted from a private road to a public street, remaining ungated;
- Edgewick could gate Carlson during limited evening hours, allowing public access during the day; or
- A trail could be built north of Carlson Drive that would allow bike and pedestrian acccess to Capital Metro buses, Linder Elementary and several neighborhoods even if Carlson were gated.
The city’s preferred option would be the first proposal, making Carlson a public street and keeping it open to public drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Rhoades says there is some support for that plan among Shire’s Court (the community’s developers) and Edgewick’s small number of homeowners, who would no longer have to bear the cost of maintaining the well-used road. The community is conducting a pavement study to find out whether the private road was built to standards required by public streets, which must support higher traffic and heavy vehicles such as emergency vehicles and buses.
Edgewick is just west of Linder Elementary School. Construction there halted for a long time after the builder’s Florida-based parent company filed for bankruptcy during the mortgage crisis in 2008, the year the first homes were sold. The cost of building and maintaining infrastructure such as Carlson Drive (with traffic circle, north of the fenced homes) is borne by the developer and the unfinished community’s few dozen homeowners. They might support allowing Carlson to become a public street. Photo from Google.
For those of you not keeping count, this is the sixth hearing date that has been penciled in since late February. The postponements reflect the time required for the city and developers to look at options or compromises that can satisfy the owners, at least in part, while avoiding the loss of connectivity where it is badly needed — near a 50-acre district park, elementary school, transit routes and thousands of homes.
Edgewick originally requested permission to gate Carlson Drive because it claimed that public access contributed to crime in the neighborhood. However, Edgewick is gated and fenced, and the public using Carlson does not have access to the developed part of the community unless gates or fencing are open or damaged. Since the Jan. 6 request, there have been only four incidents of crime in Edgewick or on Carlson, according to the Austin Police Department’s Crime Report Viewer: One night with a cluster of seven car burglaries in February, one report of leaving the scene of an accident in February, one criminal mischief report in March, and one disturbance at a residence in April. By comparison, 94 crimes were reported just outside Edgewick during the same period.
Before the request, only two property crimes affecting residents were reported in 2011 and nine in 2010, the earliest data available from Viewer.
The search area for APD Crime Viewer statistics is within a 1,000-foot radius of the 2900 block of Bond Drive. Bounded by Carlson Drive, Pither Lane, Wickshire Lane and Saville Loop, Edgewick makes up about 50% of the search area, but has had only 12% of the total crime and 18% of the total property crime since Jan. 6. Edgewick had only 3% of the property crime in the area in 2010. Some 2010 data is no longer available. (Click to enlarge.)
You can see maps and photos of Carlson Drive and its only two alternatives (Glen Springs Way and Wickshire Lane) in a Feb. 10 blog. Visit the Planning Commission website for meeting agendas, or see updates and hearing postponements by using the city’s AMANDA system and entering the case number for the Carlson Drive case, C14-04-0181.SH(RCA).
Rhoades says citizens can still submit their comments to the Planning Commission by e-mailing her. You can reach her at email@example.com or 974-7719.