Council member Angela Hunt has nominated Dr. Bill Peterson, a professor of biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, to replace term-limited Neil Emmons on the city plan commission. Peterson's term as Hunt's appointee to the city's senior affairs commission expired Wednesday, and Hunt expects the city council to approve the nomination later this month.
"Bill has been actively involved in the community for years, and I've watched him be an advocate," Hunt says. "I've watched him participate in zoning cases, and I've been impressed with the way he's articulated his positions and the way he's worked well with others."
Peterson's involvement with the city includes serving as head of the Dallas Police Department Crime Watch executive board from 2002 to 2006 and lead database manager for the 2006 citywide graffiti wipe-out, volunteering more than 3,000 hours for the DPD and earning the distinction as the DPD Crime Watch volunteer of the year in 2008. He first met Hunt when he lived in the Peak's Suburban Addition Historic District, which is in District 2, but abuts Hunt's district and is an area she's involved in because of her passion for historic preservation.
Serving on the advisory committee for the city's comprehensive plan known as forwardDallas! and involvement in neighborhood zoning issues such as Baylor Hospital's planned development district highlight his land use and zoning experience. "I've actually done a fair amount of reading city code and following what happens, trying to analyze what happens," Peterson tells Unfair Park. "I am neighborhood friendly, as I believe Ms. Hunt would be described, but I'm not anti-development, which I believe Ms. Hunt would be described."
Peterson is poised to replace Emmons, who has become a contentious personality during his eight years on the plan commission. Community activist and current board of adjustment member Sharon Boyd's Web site started out as a movement against the bond vote for the American Airlines Center, but has morphed over the last couple years into an anti-Neil Emmons site, where Boyd refers to him as "Lying Emmons."
"Everyone has their own style," Hunt says. "And after eight years, it's very difficult to find someone who has no critics, but I think Neil's done a really good job. And I think he's been a great advocate and protector of neighborhoods, and that's important. I think Bill will bring a different style, and I'm sure some people will like it and some people won't."
Peterson says he's watched Emmons closely over the past three or four years, and although he wouldn't have done everything the same and admits Emmons was "a lightning rod" on some issues, he says, "I know everything Neil did was with what he conceived to be in the best interests of the city."
Peterson stresses that while he speaks his mind and has his own opinions, he's not interested in the spotlight and has no desire to be quoted. "If at the end of my term on the plan commission, people say, 'Oh, Peterson was a good guy, did his job, did his work and helped make things happen,' that wouldn't make me unhappy at all."