Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987 Page: 35
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Austin, Texas, has now acted to protect important
views across the city toward the Texas
State Capitol. Two 1984 zoning ordinances,
No. 840802-T and No. 841220-CC, established
a series of Capitol View Corridor Overlay
Zones. The ordinances depend on a Capitol
View Preservation Height Calculation
Formula, expressed in terms of trigonometric
functions. An attachment to the first ordinance
explains the formula's effect as follows:
A sight line established from any viewing
point to the base of the Capitol dome. In a
view corridor several elevations and distances
establish view planes. These planes, focused
on the Capitol, become the view corridors
when represented or "overlaid" on maps.
Wherever the Capitol dome is visible, a sight
line or a viewing plane composed of several
sight lines passes above existing structures.
The use of the formula permits a maximum
allowable building height to be determined at
any intervening point (a "review site") between
the viewing point and the State Capitol
The maximum building height is the vertical
distance from the elevation at a review site up
to the signt line or viewing plane that passes
over the property.
Initially, nine selected view corridors were defined.
The second local ordinance defined a
further seventeen view corridors.
Certain historically significant views of the
State Capitol have been deliberately pro
tected. One such is the view from the French
This corridor is as significant visually as it is
historically. The French ambassador to the Republic
of Texas placed this structure on the
hill in East Austin so that he could view the
Capitol building from his garden and porch.
The trees at the Legation have filled out to
surround the view and make the sight much
Development on sites subject to the two ordinances
A new section of the Austin City Code
Site development regulations for the CVC Captiol
View Corridor Overlay Zones shall be those regulations
specified for the base district(s), with the addition
of the following height limit which shall govern
unless the height limit specified for the base district
is more restrictive....
The Texas state legislature enacted in 1985
companion state legislation (S. B. 644) adopting
the twenty-six Austin view corridors. The
legislation permitted Texas municipalities to
enact temporary mitigating measures (such as
transferable construction rights) which had to
expire at the end of 1985. A bill analysis for
the proposed legislation noted:
In addition, the legislation would supersede local
provisions for variance; therefore, any landowner
who suffers a special hardship because his property is
affected by a corridor would be required to obtain
relief from the legislature.
A set of the two Austin ordinances and the
Texas state legislation accompanying these ordinances
(80 pages total) is available from the
National Center for Preservation Law for
$9.50, including postage and handling.
National Center for Preservation Law, 1233 20th
Street, NW, Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20036
Texas Association of Museums
The Texas Association of Museums has relocated
its office. The mailing address will remain
P.O. Box 13353, Austin, TX 78711.
The new street address and telephone number
are 3939 Bee Caves Road, Austin, TX 78746,
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987, periodical, Summer 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45437/m1/35/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.