At City Plan Commission: Food Trucks Drive to Council, But Gas Drilling Stays Parked For Now

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I'd been all ready to settle in for a lengthy City Plan Commission meeting this afternoon, conditioned by months of long waits before commissioners got to talking about the things I'd come for -- old favorites like gas drilling or food trucks -- but today they took each of those up right from the start.

So in lieu of a furiously paced and typo-rich liveblog, here's a more reasoned account of how the CPC voted, first, to indefinitely delay XTO Energy's application to drill near Joe Pool Lake, and second, to approve allowing food trucks in the Arts District.

As I mentioned earlier this week, at least a couple commissioners weren't planning on approving XTO's Specific Use Permit today -- since the city council's already delayed the company's first drilling proposal till October -- but a good number of anti-drilling folks turned up anyhow to urge the CPC to deny the permit outright today.

Marc McCord, sounding a little like Hank Hill talking about propane, broke down some technical concerns he's got with XTO in particular, complaining the company "has one of the worst track records of any drilling company" and urging the commission: "Don't defer this. Let's kill this thing right now."

Ubiquitous gas drilling activist Raymond Crawford turned up to ask the commission to do away with the SUP application, telling the commission a story he says he's deliberately avoided mentioning till now about how sister's leukemia diagnosis last summer first got him interested in health problems that could be associated with gas drilling. (Benzene exposure was one of the risk factors for her type of leukemia.) Her funeral was two weeks ago, he told them. "There's too many unanswered questions. We don't know. We need this killed."

Liz Wally -- who'd been among those commissioners who recused themselves in the past because they own stock in Exxon, XTO's parent company -- was back in the horseshoe this time around; she told the room she's since sold her Exxon stock, which drew wild applause from the anti-drilling crowd clustered in the chamber's back-right corner. (As before, Ann Bagley and Sally Wolfish stepped outside for the XTO talk.)

"Under the circumstances of the unanswered questions we have," Commissioner Mike Anglin said to close things out, "I would move to hold this matter under advisement for an indefinite time," and it passed unopposed.

Veletta Lill, who's been spearheading this one all along, was on hand to speak to the commission about food trucks, outlining a number of issues she's been working on with city staff -- how to handle food trucks along Flora Street in particular. One way or another, she said, the city needs to get this done.

It's "extremely important to the vitality of urban neighborhoods," she said. "This is the trend of the future, to do this."

Lill says that as soon as they get approval from the city, they've got "at least five food trucks" on board to come into the Arts District.

Michael Siegel, with University Park's Green House, told the commission, "A food truck is an excellent opportunity to feed the masses," though it's also not a great way to offer them relief. He said it's pretty impractical to require food trucks to move around every hour if they don't have a "restroom agreement" in place.

Commissioner Peterson moved to cut that requirement -- and the city staff's recommended prohibition of trucks on Flora Street per Peterson's comment left below, the commissioner removed Flora Street as an allowed location for the trucks, leaving it up to staff and food truck supporters to work out specific agreements for Flora Street in the future.

Commissioner Ann Bagley said this would be an important step "if Dallas is going to be the cosmopolitan city that it wants to be" -- and the commission voted to send it to the council, unanimously.

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