A variance sign on 34th Street in Garden Oaks has gotten the attention of local residents and with good cause. According to the agenda for Thursday’s Houston Planning Commission meeting, an application has been submitted by Windrose Land Services on behalf of Hines Multifamily division to seek allowances before building an apartment complex on the site of a home that was an electrical company before it was sold to the developer.
Three variances are being sought. The first is to allow a 20-foot right-of-way dedication along Gardendale Drive as opposed to the code-required 30 feet.
In the statement of facts the application states that “the subject property is 5.0 acres located on the south side of West 34th Street approximately 320 feet east of the intersection with Alba Street. The site is bordered by West 34th Street on the north side, Gardendale Drive and a Houston Lighting & Power tract on the south side, a single-family townhome subdivision on the east side (Villas on West 34th), and a commercial use on the west side (Jack Johnson Upholstery). The applicant is proposing to redevelop the property, which currently includes a variety of commercial and business park uses, in to an upscale multifamily residential complex…because high-density, urban infill development – including other large multifamily and single-family townhome projects – are a defining characteristic of this community, the applicant knows that their project will be a highly-compatible and positive addition.”
The second variance asks to allow an alternate right-of-way turnaround configuration at the terminus of Gardendale Drive that does not meet the city’s design criteria – meaning that they don’t want to put a turnaround in the shape of the required cul-de-sac but want to do something different that achieves the same end.
The third variance asks for a reduced building setback of 5 feet along Gardendale Drive as opposed to the code-required 20-foot building setback.
The applicant stated that it is reducing the building setback along West 34th Street to 15 feet, but said that no variance is necessary as it is doing so by opting in to the city’s performance standards.
With regard to the Gardendale variance, the application says that the situation was created when Gardendale Drive was partially created with the filing of Sunny Hollow Subdivision in 1958.
“The developer of the residential subdivision only dedicated 30 feet of right-of-way for a public street that is not required for intersection spacing and that was not a street abutting their property – and therefore not subject to mandatory extension guidelines,” the application said. “To avoid the perception of impropriety at the time, the residential developer concurrently dedicated a temporary right-of-way on top of their 20-foot building setback with the stipulation that said temporary right-of-way would extinguish when the property across Gardendale Drive to the north developed and dedicated their right-of-way.”
The application shows multiple renderings of the proposed development, which the applicant stressed were preliminary. The Houston Planning Commission meets to hear the variance request at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.