How to Fight Growth in Your City: Start a Petition Drive

Highland HouseWe SAY we want people to move to Dallas, right? Our governor spends oodles of time and tax dollars cutting deals to get businesses to move here, promising them the world if they relocate to Texas. We recently celebrated a major coup when Toyota announced plans to build its North American headquarters here, well in Plano, and get the heck out of California. We have folks downtown pushing for more density, urging us to tear down an ugly highway to open up more land for development, and unite two neighborhoods. If I hear the word WALKABLE again, I think I will scream from tip of my head to the end of my Jimmy Choos. But that’s where we are going. Developers are building apartments as fast as they can. Neighborhoods are saying NO!

I am not siding with the developers here, nor the neighborhoods. I am merely posing the question: do we really want more people to move to Texas? Maybe the whole economic push to bring jobs to Texas is a charade. We don’t REALLY want people to move here to work because they are going to buy houses and drive up property values, drive cars, pollute, create traffic, overcrowd our schools and use up more water.

Let them stay in California!

Rick Perry: “But the fact of the matter is, you look at the state of Texas and see what we’ve done there. People understand that the state of Texas, during the last decade, something special happened there. It was the number one state for relocation for five years in a row. And we plan on keeping it that way.”

Maybe Dallas is special like a fabulous second home community that is a perfect, quiet, restful, hidden little secret. Like XXX where we go in Maine. You don’t want people to know about it, because then they’ll come there and it won’t be quiet or special ever again!

The folks who want to develop a high rise luxury apartment in the heart of Preston Center, The Crosland Group, a company with a great reputation for building luxury, successful residential high rises, has begun a petition drive to gather signatures in favor of their 29 story residential towerhttp://www.ipetitions.com/petition/i-support-highland-house-zoning-change-case

The neighbors in Highland Park, who are concerned about school over-crowding — I am told, but NOT CONFIRMED, that University Park schools are so stuffed all kindergarten classes are held in mobile or temporary classrooms — and more traffic congestion have also started a petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-city-of-dallas-the-dallas-city-planning-commission-cpc-the-city-of-university-park-deny-request-to-construct-a-29-story-apartment-building-in-preston-center?recruiter=91798972&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Crosland, developers of Highland House, say it will be a high-quality, luxury, expensive apartment complex. Their target demographic is affluent semi-retired baby boomers out of large homes in the area, most with ranches or second homes, who want a lock and leave. Who want that huge buzzword of the day, WALKABILITY! They say their tenants won’t be using schools for the most part.

Here is what Committee Highland House says:

The Crosland Group is proposing a 29-storyapartment building near the core of Preston Center shopping center (right behind Hopdoddy Burger restaurant).  At present, a 3 story medical building sits on the Westchester Drive site. Current zoning allows for a 6-7 story building. The proposed building  would be higher than any building in Preston Center. The addition of an approximate 245 unit apartment and the ensuing 500 tenants, 500 cars, apartment staff, deliveries, service providers, tenant’s staff and visitors would significantly add additional traffic to the already congested area.  Though the apartment is advertised as a residence for “empty nesters”, it would attract families because children residing in Highland House would be eligible to attend HPISD schools.

Preston Center is already one of the most congested areas of Dallas. It is near impossible to park during lunch hours and it is going to get worse.  Ground has been broken for a new 7 story high rise office building near Douglas on Weldon Howell Parkway, not far from the proposed “Highland House”.  The new office building will have 200,000 sq ft, statistically adding a potential 1,136 employees and cars into the Center along with deliveries, service providers, salesmen and visitors.

The developers of the Highland House contend the apartment building will generate less traffic than the current medical building. The Crosland Group cites statistics that a medical building of the size located at 8215 Westchester generates on average 1666 visitors on a daily basis. An actual count of visitors was taken on Thursday, April 17. Between the hours of 7:45 am and 4:30 pm the building had a total of 172 visitors. Clearly, the traffic generated with a 29 story apartment would exceed 172 visitors each day, therefore increasing traffic and congestion in the area.

During peak hours of traffic, many drivers seek alternate routes to avoid long delays. These alternate routes are through nearby neighborhoods.  Increased and higher speed traffic through area neighborhoods pose a danger to bikers, joggers, walkers and especially children and elderly living along these streets.

Lastly, privacy is a concern for homeowners living in close proximity to any high rise building.  Tenants could look out of their windows into the back yards of nearby residents.

Conclusion

To avoid further congetion to adjacent thoroughfares and neighborhood streets, to protect the privacy and home values of nearby residential properties and to decrease the danger to pedestrians and children, we ask that the Crosland Group’s request to re-zone 8215 Westchester Drive be denied.  Any new construction should be built to current building code.

Please express your concerns to the following:

Dallas Councilwoman Jennifer Gates – 214.670.3816

jennifer.gates@dallascityhall.com

CPC Dist. 13 Margot Murphy – 214.670.3086

margotmurphy13@gmail.com

I do wish to correct one line in the Committee’s petition: “The proposed building  would be higher than any building in Preston Center.” Not true: Preston Tower, across Preston and north of Northwest Highway, is 29 stories tall. 

Last count, Crosland had 72 signatures, Committee HH has 615. Like I said, let them all stay in California!

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