By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"If you're trying to find a middle ground, and the person who's leading a meeting acts in that way, it doesn't lead to common ground or a compromise. It's ugly," Stamos says.
Hunt says Fairfield hasn't made enough changes to its original zoning, and she made a motion in the council meeting to delay the case for 30 days, which passed unanimously. Approximately 70 proponents showed up at the council meeting, while only a handful of opponents were there. Leslie Davenport, the only one to speak in favor of the Plan Commission's recommendation, says hundreds of those in opposition were told not to attend because Hunt was delaying the vote.
Stamos says this project follows the ForwardDallas! plan, which encourages private investment and urban design standards. The plan, approved by the city council in June 2006, also promotes the creation of jobs and making Dallas a walkable city.
City staff with the Department of Development Services also cited the ForwardDallas! plan when recommending approval of the original zoning change. Staff wrote that the new zoning would provide a higher density to support the DART station located within a quarter-mile of the property and ensure a sustainable and efficient long-range housing supply.
About 200 emergency calls went to Signature Pointe in 2007, according to Stamos. He says an FBI anti-terrorism team visited the complex shortly before it was shut down, and after hiring 24-hour security for the property, "crime is a different story." Stamos says the price of the new apartments would be in the $1,500-per-month range, which will attract higher-income singles as opposed to the low-income families, Hurricane Katrina evacuees, sex offenders and parolees who occupied the apartments when Fairfield purchased the property.
One of the issues that concerns the neighborhood coalition and other opponents is that the new complex will be four stories instead of three, which is currently permitted on the property. Another is the increased traffic. Stamos says a study concluded that any new traffic wouldn't significantly harm the area. "It's just been a difficult process because we felt that all along, we were doing what the city wanted us to do," Stamos says.
At the council meeting, North Dallas council member Ron Natinsky said Fairfield hadn't asked for "one cent" from the city, the development goes along with ForwardDallas!, and this case would set a good precedent for future development. "What we have here is the free market stepping up and doing what we want to happen in this city," he said.
Hunt says she's concerned about up-zoning in general and fears the new retail is too close to single-family housing. Fairfield and its supporters are hoping Hunt changes her mind before the March 26 council meeting where a decision will be made.
"Let's just get on board, jump on, and get in this century," Truitt says. "We're waiting for the trucks to pull up and start demolition."