Austin Land Development Code updates aimed at environmental and water quality protection take effect today.
The new requirements are part of development code updates various city departments and governmental bodies have been hammering out this summer and fall. The updates include initiatives related to water quality resource protection, such as increased use of the city's green stormwater infrastructure and expanded protections for wetlands on Lady Bird Lake.
Following a public hearing at an Oct. 11 Planning Commission meeting, the Austin City Council held its own public hearing adopted the new code Oct. 27.
An amendment related to water quality controls will go into effect on November 1, 2023, barring other Watershed Protection recommendations made in the next year.
The phase of the Land Development Code updates in effect today is relates primarily to stormwater management and natural resource protection. According to the city's website:
- Green Stormwater Infrastructure is now required as the primary method of stormwater pollution prevention for most site plans and subdivisions.
- Stormwater within parking lots is required to drain to parking lot islands and medians where feasible.
Natural Resource Protection
- In-channel detention and wet ponds are prohibited unless proposed as part of a public infrastructure project or public/private partnership.
- Wetlands are now protected everywhere on Lady Bird Lake, as they elsewhere in town outside of downtown.
Minor Code Amendments
- Additional changes that simplify and improve the clarity and organization of environmental regulations; and
- Minor code amendments that further policy goals.
Possible future land development code changes to be introduced during later phases include the following, according to the city:
- Landscaping for highly urbanized developments, also known as Functional Green landscape requirements
- “Missing Middle” housing, which would hold small residential projects being built on single-family lots to the same environmental standards as a single-family home
- Expanded protections for the Colorado River downstream of the Longhorn Dam
- Requirements for urban slope protections; and
- Reducing flood risk by applying greenfield development standards to redevelopment projects
City staff plans to carry out the "necessary stakeholder engagement related to any proposed changes as well as consider options for additional entitlements to offset potential impacts to development," according to a city press release.