Zoning Cases Leave Some Feeling Less Than Neighborly

In the October issue of Preston Hollow People, you’ll find stories on two zoning cases we’ve been following — one regarding a piece of land on Forest Lane and another at the tornado-ravaged Walnut Hill Elementary School site.

In both cases, neighbors of those plots wanted something very different than what developers proposed. Melshire Estates residents don’t want the city to allow a developer to build 26 zero-lot-line homes on the 3.5-acre plot on Forest Lane. Walnut Hill neighbors don’t want a much bigger Dallas ISD Career Institute on the spot where their beloved neighborhood school stood until the 2019 tornado battered it.

(Read: Council Approves Forest Lane Rezoning Change)

In both cases, community members lobbied hard to avoid the proposed zoning changes, but — as you will see — the city council ultimately moved ahead with those changes.

During the debate, the concept of the right of neighborhood self-determination came up frequently — that is, should a longstanding neighborhood expect its desires to rank above the long-term needs of the city? Do neighborhoods have the right to say, “This is what we look like, this is who we are, and we want this to stay the same?

(Read: City Council Approves Dallas ISD Zoning Request)

This brings us to another zoning case. People living in the Elm Thicket/Northpark community are requesting a zoning change for protection from what they see as efforts by developers and real estate agents to erase the historic neighborhood with new construction and a new name.

If you’re new to the area, you may have been shown a home and told it was in Inwood Park. But if you ask the neighbors — it was and should remain what they know it as: Elm Thicket/Northpark.

The Elm Thicket Authorized Hearing Steering Committee recommended that the city place height restrictions on new construction, as well as lot-size coverage restrictions for new two-story homes, and restrict the types of roofs used in new construction. They’re also asking that the city include the entire Elm Thicket/Northpark neighborhood, not just new construction south of University Boulevard.

“We believe our rezoning case is different because it was born out of the Authorized Hearing Steering Committee through the city of Dallas Neighborhood Plus initiative,” Save Elm Thicket spokesperson Eric McHenry said. “Former Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano selected the Elm Thicket/Northpark neighborhood in 2016 to participate in the Neighborhood Plus program so we could document our neighborhood’s history and preserve the traditional style and character of our neighborhood.”

The Elm Thicket/Northpark neighborhood story is a story worth telling. We’ll be digging deeper into the faceoff at peoplenewspapers.com as the zoning case makes its way to the city plan commission. Also, watch for potential updates in the November issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.