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Sounds Like That Conservation District Fight in Northern Hills Really Divided Neighborhood

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I missed the name of the gentleman, clad in a dark suit and tie (that's him at the top right of the screengrab), who, about an hour ago, pleaded with the Dallas City Council to vote against designating Northern Hills as a conservation district. The City Plan Commission OK'd the zoning change in September, after three years of back-and-forthing between city staff and the 61 property owners in the neighborhood nestled between Highland Park and the Knox-Henderson shopping district. But this gentleman, joined by other opponents who paraded to the podium, made his case by insisting that if the council passed the ordinance, it would render Dallas "a can't-do city" where City Hall tells homeowners, "You're not the best steward of your property."

Said one man in favor of the CD, "Our opponents have had two years to vent" their opposition, and compromises have been made. Because, see, all those in favor of the rezoning just want McMansions kept out of the 80-plus-year-old neighborhood. Said another 47-year resident of the neighborhood, "The fact there have been no [McMansions] built doesn't speak to the issue at all."

When it was the council members' turn to talk, it got bogged down in the finer points of conservation districts' restrictions; there was the suggestion that perhaps the mayor might want to put together a committee to figure out how restrictive the restrictions ought to be. Dave Neumann said he's confused by who's for and who's against it. He also wondered why, if 51 of the 61 properties in the district would be considered "nonconforming" if the CD passed, is city staff for it? (Director of development services, Teresa O'Donnell, said she'd never seen that number before -- and, besides, they'd be grandfathered anyway, "but it's something we need to look at.")

Ron Natinsky noted that the problem with these kind of fights is that they "pit neighbor against neighbor, and y'all still have to live with each other, have Christmas parties together."

This conversation's been going on for more than an hour. I'd recommend watching City Hall inaction ... pardon, in action. Poor Jim. He's in chambers today for other reasons. Hope he brought dinner.

"I don't know where to go on this," Neumann just told O'Donnell.

Wait till it's the Disney Streets' turn, whenever that is. I will update when the vote's taken. Tomorrow, maybe? Because Angela Hunt hasn't even spoken, and this is her district.

Update at 2:54 p.m.: Oh, wait. It just passed council with a slight modification. But the mayor said he's not fond of the process as it exists now and has asked economic development to come up with some kind of "mediation" for neighbors before conservation district votes come before council.

Up now: Simon David! Tune in. Now. Joyce Lockley of the North Park Love Field neighborhood group just used the phrase "scare tactics." Oh, Jim?

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