by BRAD ROLLINS
Recovering from shoulder surgery, an ailing Mayor Susan Narvaiz emerged briefly at Tuesday night’s city council meeting to cast a decisive vote in favor of giving a developer more time to meet conditions for a zoning change he needs to build high-end apartments.
The city council voted 4-3 on March 4 to rezone 22.5 acres near the high-traffic intersection of Wonder World Drive and Hunter Road from general commercial to multi-family residential where Austin-based Larry Peel Company wants to build Purgatory Creek Apartments. The deal, however, was contingent on Peel securing permission from the Texas Department of Transportation by Sept. 30 for a curb cut to the property and finalize construction plans for a turn lane and deceleration late on Hunter Road.
Peel has been slowed by difficulty locking down financing for the $24 million project, City Manager Rick Menchaca said, and asked for a nine months extension of the deadline.
Presiding over this week’s meeting in Narvaiz’s absence, city council member Pam Couch moved the deadline extension to the top of the meeting agenda. At that point, a weary-looking Narvaiz, her arm in a shoulder sling, materialized at a side door to officiate over consideration of Peel’s request.
After the vote wherein council members John Thomaides, Gaylord Bose and Chris Jones maintained their opposition to the project, Narvaiz said, “I’m going to go home where I need to be” and she left.
Because it was posted on the agenda as an emergency item, Peel’s deadline extension would have needed five votes, a supermajority of the seven-member council, to pass outright. With a simple majority, the council will need to pass it a second time before Sept. 30 to keep the rezoning to multi-family residential in force.
The mayor has asked city officials to schedule a special meeting sometime in coming weeks.