The Dallas Plan Commission is looking into holding a hearing to determine appropriate zoning for a 74.6-acre chunk of Oak Cliff. The hearing consider the potential creation of a transit-oriented development surrounding the Tyler/Vernon DART station, similar to Mockingbird Station, downtown Plano and Southside on Lamar.
Some residents in the area worry that the zoning changes could threaten 180 homes and open up the area to undesired development.
The hearing was not requested by the residents or the surrounding neighborhood associations, said Christine Hopkins, former president of Elmwood Neighborhood Association. The worry is that there hasn’t been enough community involvement to move forward, and that could lead to unwanted density and taller buildings.
The 180 homes do not belong to a neighborhood association, which has made getting input from every stakeholder difficult. But residents are trying to change that.
A resident in the affected area, who didn't want to be named, is creating a new neighborhood association called the S. Edgefield Neighborhood Association. Other nearby residents are trying to help get the neighborhood association running.
Hopkins, Yolanda Alameda, a representative of the Polk-Vernon neighborhood association, and the resident visited each of the 180 homes to let people know about the new neighborhood association.
“Some of them were very skeptical about the process and getting involved because they feel like they’ve been neglected and ignored for a very long time and that they’ve asked for things in the past, like street repairs and sidewalks and traffic calming measures and the city just has ignored them,” Hopkins said.
The first meeting for the association is on the books, but it still needs to become official and gain the city's recognition. They are moving fast to establish the association, Hopkins said, but it may not be fast enough. The proposed authorized hearing will go for a vote at the Plan Commission meeting on April 22, but the new association’s first meeting is the day after that.
Chad West, the district's City Council member, said he proposed an authorized hearing to decide appropriate zoning for the area and ensure the neighborhood won’t be subject to undesired development.
After West was elected, he heard a developer had bought property north of the Tyler station where they wanted to build townhomes. To do that they may need to rezone the area. Other developers were also buying and consolidating property.
He wanted to put together an organized plan for the area before developers had their way with it. The first step entails requesting that the commission and City Council hold an authorized hearing. “The bottom line is that if we don’t make a plan, someone else is going to do it for us, and they’ve already started,” West told the Observer last month.
If the Plan Commission approves the hearing, residents and representatives of the area will start ironing out the zoning changes they would like to see. Through this, they could upzone or downzone the area. Additionally, they could protect the 180 homes residents are worried about.
West said he wants to make sure residents from those 180 homes get a say in the future of their community. Even if the neighborhood association isn’t official in time for the April 22 city plan commission meeting, West said they’d be able to use their input throughout the course of the authorized hearing.
“It makes my job as a council member easier when we have representatives from the neighborhood speak up and advocate, so I welcome the organization,” West said.
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