Back in April, we told you about Angela Hunt's decision to reconsider her August 2008 vote to shut down Woodard Paint & Body Shop and develop a compromise to allow the family-owned business to remain at its location on Ross Avenue where it opened 90 years ago.
The dozens of other auto-repair businesses that had been zoned out of Ross as a result of the April 2005 council vote to modify 1988's Bryan Place Special Purpose District in order to create a gateway to the Arts District left without a fight, but the Woodards refused to bolt.
Their stubbornness was rewarded on Wednesday when the city council unanimously approved a sub-district and special use permit allowing Woodard to stick around for at least another 12 years despite city staff's opposition.
"The exemption of this property from the evaluation study's recommendation is inconsistent and contrary to the recommendations that were adopted by City Council in 2005 as well as recommendations from forwardDallas! Comprehensive Plan," according to the agenda item. "Redevelopment is occurring on Ross Avenue, and this request could inhibit the desired urban character along this corridor."
However, no one spoke in opposition to the zoning exception for Woodard at the meeting, and two members of the Bryan Place Neighborhood Association -- including Hunt's Park Board appointee, Wayne Smith -- spoke in favor of it. Michael Eric Williamson, the BPNA's zoning director and Bryan Place resident for more than 15 years, said the BPNA now supports the compromise after opposing Woodard's SUP request in 2008.
Williamson noted Hunt's "change of heart" and added that some BPNA members and board members eventually supported finding an exception for Woodard as well.
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"While I do not personally count myself in that group, I do own a 25-year-old car that at least I consider a classic, and I take it to Bill Woodard a few times a year for repair," he said. "Additionally, the previous denials of the SUP caused bad press for the neighborhood and the city, both in the printed media and online."
The compromise stems from the BPNA's opposition to a permanent zoning change, Williamson explained, as opposed to granting Woodard the 10-year SUP, which contains eligibility for an automatic two-year renewal.
We've attempted to contact Hunt, the only council member to speak about the issue at the meeting, unsuccessfully. On Wednesday, she reinforced the legacy she inherited from former council Veletta Forsythe Lill, now executive director of the Arts District.
"[Ross Avenue's] transforming from primarily an automotive street that has a lot of businesses with razor wire and chain-link fences to an area where we're going to develop residences," Hunt said. "We're going to develop retail, and I think it's going to be an area we can be proud of and will generate tax revenue for the city and become a really wonderful entry into downtown."