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City Council Recap: Districting Proposal Deep Sixed, Solar Group Approved, Payday Lenders Zoned Out

A flurry of activity City Hall yesterday, as council met for the last time before the May 12 elections
Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News
A flurry of activity City Hall yesterday, as council met for the last time before the May 12 elections

The big story out of the Austin City Council meeting on Thursday was the decision to withdraw a proposal that would have called for a community task force to advise on single-member council districts for future elections. A citizens group pushing to put its own districting proposal on the ballot applauded the withdrawal.

Several other items related to city elections did pass, including an item which will ask voters whether to move local elections from May to November.

The council also held a public hearing and approved an ordinance over zoning for “alternative financial services businesses,” aka payday lenders.

The city now will not allow check cashing business, payday advance or loan business and the like to operate: Within 1,000 feet of a site that contains another alternative financial services business Within 200 feet of a property in a residential zoning district or on which a residential use is located Within 500 feet of the rights-of-way of Interstate Highway 35, U.S. Highway 183, U.S. Highway 290, Texas State Highway Loop 360, Texas State Highway Loop 1, Texas State Highway 130, or Texas State Highway 45 Within the waterfront overlay district, the university neighborhood overlay district, or the area bounded by Interstate Highway 35, Airport Boulevard, and Town Lake.

The ordinance says an alternative financial services business must also be located only within a freestanding structure and may not be co-located in the same structure with other uses.

On Thursday, council members also approved a measure to negotiate the expansion of Austin Pets Alive’s use of the Town Lake Animal Center. Austin Pets Alive has been using a portion of the center since the city shelter moved to the Austin Animal Center. The nonprofit wants to stay there longer than the temporary lease agreement currently allows and to operate out of the entire building.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, council passed a resolution that would have created a solar advisory committee.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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