You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Council, residents divided on historic district for Blue Bonnet Hills


The Austin City Council voted 7-3 Thursday to take the first step toward creating a historic district for Blue Bonnet Hills, a pocket of about 100 Travis Heights homes where residents are locked in battle over whether such a district will protect their neighborhood’s character or saddle homeowners with intrusive rules.

But with the council almost as divided as the neighbors, it’s unclear whether the proposal can secure supermajority support from at least nine council members when it faces a final vote in August. A supermajority is needed when at least 20 percent of the residents have a petition in opposition.

Supporters of the historic designation described a decade-long process that was originally aimed at preserving the larger Travis Heights neighborhood. Blue Bonnet Hills homeowner Angela Reed said developers snapped up bungalows in Travis Heights, only to replace them with larger homes or multi-family properties.

“It fundamentally changed the character of our neighborhood,” Reed said. Because of how quickly Travis Heights homes were being torn down, Reed said the supporters of the historic designation decided to narrow their focus on Blue Bonnet Hills, a group of homes southeast of Fulmore Middle School.

Reed and other supporters argue that granting Blue Bonnet Hills historic status comes with protections that make it more difficult to tear down the older homes. The designation also requires homes to meet certain design standards for exterior changes, and the city provides some tax benefits, but only for homeowners who make improvements.

A sizable group of Blue Bonnet Hills homeowners opposes the historic district, though. Opponents argued the historic designation would actually quash their neighborhood’s “eclectic” style, objecting to the requirement that exterior changes would require an extra layer of city permission.

Some opponents also questioned the vote-taking process and whether a majority of property owners really supported the historic designation.

Michael Francis said he purchased his Blue Bonnet Hills home in August and intends to remodel it. He said his “no” vote for the district had been inaccurately recorded as a “no response” at one point. “It doesn’t give you a lot of confidence in the system,” Francis said.

Council Members Sabino “Pio” Renteria, Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman voted against the historic designation on first reading Thursday, echoing some of the opponents’ concerns about additional restrictions being placed on residents’ homes. (Council Member Sheri Gallo was not present for the vote.)

While voting in favor of the district, Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Ann Kitchen also acknowledged those concerns and encouraged the residents to work together before the final vote to see if they could reach common ground.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct Michael Francis’ remodeling plans and the way in which his vote on the historic district was incorrectly recorded.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Barton Creek bike bridge built, but few coming so far
Barton Creek bike bridge built, but few coming so far

I tweeted out just after sunrise Friday that I was hanging out at the new Barton Creek bike bridge in Southwest Austin to see how many cyclists and others might be using the $14.5 million edifice. I noted that in the half-hour or so I was there, I had seen one commuting cyclist cross the 1,045-foot span over the creek gorge. Not surprisingly, the qualifiers...
Traffic report for June 26, 2017

Interstate 35 (Travis County): The outside lane on the southbound access road will be closed between Parmer Lane and Rundberg Lane from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday and Tuesday nights; locations will change nightly, and Exits 245 through 241 will be closed as needed. Multiple southbound lane closures between Colonial Park Boulevard and Boggy Creek from...
Emails chart how ‘Mad Men’ archive landed at UT’s Ransom Center
Emails chart how ‘Mad Men’ archive landed at UT’s Ransom Center

An archive of props, clothing, scripts and abandoned story lines from a TV series might not seem at first blush to embody the literary, cultural or artistic significance of the Gutenberg Bible, Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” or any number of other holdings at the University of Texas’ Harry...
PolitiFact: Paxton uses old line about Obama that’s no longer true
PolitiFact: Paxton uses old line about Obama that’s no longer true

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, pleased at the revocation of a federal effort to shield some older immigrants from deportation, says that then-President Barack Obama repeatedly acknowledged that his administration’s 2014 immigration order wasn’t legal. In a recent press release, Paxton applauded the Homeland Security Department&rsquo...
Challengers of ‘sanctuary cities’ ban to get their day in federal court
Challengers of ‘sanctuary cities’ ban to get their day in federal court

Challengers of Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” ban, will have their first day in federal court Monday before a presiding judge who has recently ruled that federal immigration detention requests central to the controversial state law are unconstitutional. Monday’s hearing in San Antonio before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia...
More Stories