The City Plan Commission on Wednesday rejected a zoning request for a 175-acre warehouse project in southern Dallas that nearby residents said would bring more pollution, more traffic congestion and lower property values to an area already overstuffed with warehouses.
City staff had recommended approval of the rezoning for Dallas-based developers Crow Holdings Industrial, which was eyeing the project off of Merrifield Road close to Interstate 20 and Spur 408. The plan commission opted instead to side with homeowners.
Crow wanted the west line of Texas State Highway Spur 408 and west of South Merrifield Road to be rezoned from agricultural use to an industrial research district. Several Dallas residents spoke in opposition to the zoning change. The consensus was this: The southern sector needs houses, not warehouses.
“Dallas is in dire need of affordable housing in the southern sector,” Colin Larson, president of Capella Park Homeowner Association, said. “By voting against this zoning change you are voting for the opportunity to create more affordable housing in the southern sector.”
The Capella Park HOA found out about the zoning case late in the first quarter of the year. Larson said the community quickly came together to start a campaign against the change. They invited developers into the community to tell them how much they didn’t want more warehouses and how successful housing developments in the area could be.
While the development could provide more jobs, Larson said the southern sector needs more employment options besides warehouse positions.
Capella Park resident Jerry Smith told the commission southern Dallas has enough warehouses. “We have invested in Dallas, and I’m trying to figure out if Dallas is going to invest in us,” he said. “We are tired of being the dumping ground for warehouses.”
Smith said the added traffic brought by the warehouses would pollute the air and make it harder for people to get around in the area.
Darrell Herbert came to Dallas when he was 22 years old after losing everything as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He came to the city with his mother and grandmother to rebuild their lives. In the time since, they have rebuilt and Herbert has come to work for the city.
But Herbert didn’t attend the meeting yesterday as a city employee, he said. “Today I come to you as a father, a son, and a proud citizen of Dallas.” Herbert said the proposed project would stifle other people’s chances at making Capella Park their home too.
Ronald Stinson, District 3 plan commission representative, said the community has been fighting warehouse developments like this for years. Twenty-three million square feet of new warehouse space are planned for the city in the near future, according to The Dallas Morning News. Southern Dallas County has the largest share of this with over 5 million square feet.
Stinson said these projects have been “driven down the throats” of residents. If the plan commission let this one slide, he said, some of the most valuable land in their community’s masterplan would vanish.
“This project is not in the best interest of this prime piece of land,” Stinson said. He moved to deny the zoning change against staff recommendation and the rest of the committee followed suit.
Committee member Lorie Blair called the area “God’s country.” Of the project, Blair said, “Why would we take God’s country and destroy it?” Wayne Garcia, another committee member, said he was outraged that the zoning change was even being considered.
Stinson’s motion was originally to deny the zoning change with prejudice, which would prevent the area from being rezoned for another five years. After further consideration, the committee decided to deny without prejudice in the hopes that the property can later be rezoned for single-family homes.