Autopsying the Monkey Bar

The City Plan Commission said no to Monkey Bar's SUP request—what the hell happened?

Emmons and a number of other commissioners said they were going to vote to deny the SUP for a pair of very specific reasons: First, as one commissioner pointed out, "Usually, we don't get anyone here to oppose such things. Today we had quite a few." Second, those "quite a few"—that is, four people—are direct neighbors, whereas the folks who came out in support of the bar don't live in the same block. The only commissioner who spoke in favor of granting the SUP was Michael Davis, who said that normally when people appear in front of the commission with a claim, they have some piece of paper to back it up. All the coalition of four had was their verbal claims. Davis, in fact, had done his own research; there indeed is not one noise complaint on the record.

In the end, Davis' logic wasn't enough. It wasn't even close. And then the commission moved on to some question of a permit for a cell phone tower.

Afterward, Reed said, "The decision is no different to what we recently saw in City Hall," referring to a corruption scandal there. "Bribery, graft and corruption. This is no different." Reed needs the votes of three-quarters of the city council to override the commission's decision.

Reed's conspiracy theory is one I've heard espoused many times, but the plan commission doesn't really appear to be conspiratorial monsters. For one thing, they approved every other Deep Ellum establishment's SUP except minc. That decision was postponed until next week. Still, something's fishy.

For one thing, back in September, as Robert Wilonsky reported on the Dallas Observer blog Unfair Park, many Deep Ellum business owners had no idea the SUP deadline was looming so closely. Many had to scramble, pulling all-nighters and pushing all other business aside, to fill out a pile of confusing paperwork in a matter of days. Opponents of some of the SUP approvals note that the businesses have a responsibility to find out the appropriate deadlines, which makes it sound as if these club owners are either idiots or blatantly incompetent. Some may be, but all of them? These are people who care about their businesses, who want to stay in business, who want to make a profit. Doesn't it seem logical that they'd be keeping an eye on such things? And, if so, why didn't anyone know about the deadline?

Second: The plan commission did some weird things. Why would the four people speaking against Monkey Bar seem like "a lot," when about 80 or 90 supporters were virtually ignored. Also, how did the commission know that none of those 80 or 90 live in the same building as the coalition of four?

Third, those people had no proof. If you're going to put someone out of business, fucking stay up and sign the complaint.

It must be a weird thing to contribute to shutting down somebody's business, somebody's livelihood. The neighbors didn't seem like evil villains or money-hungry developers—they seem like normal, working folk who just want to get some sleep at night. It's just disjointing to know a few undocumented complaints can close a business. "Look," said Boucher, after I asked him about this, "I'm a small business owner. I respect a lot of small businesses. But I respect businesses that respect other people's rights."

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