Laura Miller, Steve Wolens & Mitchell Rasansky Throw Weight to Postpone Highland House Hearing at City Hall

HH Aerial Preston CenterWell, maybe everyone down at City Hall just wanted to get out of town for Memorial Day early. And STAY away, what with more than a thousand residents now angry over that proposed Sams Wholesale Club over near Cityplace, and then the Highland House project for Preston Center which has freaked out University Park residents, and brought out of the political woodwork former Dallas mayor Laura Miller and hubster Steve Wolens. Oh and former District 13 councilman Mitchell Rasansky, too.

Laura and Steve spoke to the issue of Highland House zoning signs at the building they want to buy/develop on Westchester. She alluded to this in her talk at the Town Hall meeting. She and the hubster both showed up to her old city hall haunts Thursday afternoon, along with former city councilman Mitchell Rasansky.  Laura signed some affidavits claiming that the developer, Crosland, did not properly display zoning signs to notify the public, as required.

Miller politely argued before the City Plan Commission that the developer of a proposed luxury residential high-rise in Preston Center failed to ensure that required signs notified the public of its coming zoning case.

That, she said, left her Preston Hollow neighbors in the dark about what would be the first high-rise residential building built in that district since the 1980s.

“The sign has not been posted, and it’s a violation of the ordinance,” Miller said.

She told plan commissioners they had an obligation to delay or deny The Crosland Group’s rezoning application, which would allow them to build a 23-story, 200-unit complex on Westchester Drive. It would replace a 55-year-old, three-story medical building that sits on the property.

Commissioners agreed with Miller and her husband, who also spoke. They postponed the hearing until June 19.

Rick Williamson, executive vice president of The Crosland Group, called the sign issue “silly.”

“We posted the signs over a year ago,” Williamson said. “We go by there regularly.”

So CPC was compelled to delay the hearing until June 19, at 1:30 in Dallas City Council chambers at City Hall.

She did have some positive words for another potential Preston Hollow development: Transwestern. Laura said they did their notification correctly, gathering neighbors and describing the project in detail, unlike, she said, the Highland House project.

Of course, Highland House is not nestled in a residential neighborhood as the Transwestern project is. The developer says they notified everyone in the required area surrounding them. The “required area” for Highland House is mostly business and commercial, since it’s virtually dead in the middle of Preston Center commercial district and significantly farther from homes than the proposed Transwestern complex.  Highland’s developer also held a few town hall meetings.

Miller & Wolens live about 3 miles north of Preston Center on North Dentwood in a 9,000 plus square foot home on 2 plus acres on the tax rolls for nearly $4 million. They also own a condominium at The Athena, where they recently had a closed meeting to discuss the new developments. Rasansky lives in a 6500 square foot home with multiple garages on Ursula, on the tax rolls for $2.3 million.

This brings to mind how much influence neighborhoods should have over local commercial centers — i.e. Preston Center. If you live within a mile or so of a commercial area, do you have the right to control what goes into your local corner shopping center? Which is really what Preston Center is to the folks who live around it. It’s a little corner retail that just got bigger and bigger. And if you do get to control what happens at your neighborhood retail hang out, how far does that extend?

Just curious. That’s all.