Hard Landing For Lincoln Katy Trail’s Plan Commission Re-vote Attempt

The attempt to get a Plan Commission re-vote on the Lincoln Katy Trail project has spectacularly failed. As reported on Dec. 4, Christopher Lewis, Plan Commissioner appointed by District 8 Council Member Tennell Atkins, filed paperwork to get the project reconsidered after it initially failed CPC on Nov. 15.

Today’s CPC session brought up the motion to reconsider with District 10 appointee Tipton Housewright seconding the motion. Almost immediately, Commissioner Deborah Carpenter motioned for discussion to be halted and a vote to re-vote simply held. That motion didn’t pass, which I’m sure caused a few white knuckles (including mine).

When CPC Chair Gloria Tarpley opened the floor for commissioner comments, it became clear that the reason the immediate vote had failed was because there was some chastisement to come.

Commissioner Margot Murphy asked Lewis for the identity of the person who had convinced him to ask for a reconsideration. After all, as I pointed out, he’s new and from a district miles away. Asking for a re-vote was always odd. Lewis answered that Angela Hunt, working for Lincoln Property Company, had convinced him.

Commissioner Paul Ridley, whose district the proposed project would be built in, was fairly scathing in his comments. He said that reconsiderations are rare and generally held when startling new information is brought to light (something he didn’t see here). He noted that opening this door for re-votes of sore-loser projects is one that shouldn’t be opened. Decisions should stand outside extraordinary circumstances – something not in evidence here.

Red equals “no revote”, original denial stands

Commissioner Mark Rieves was a wily one. He pulled out the new information packet supplied by Lincoln Property Company and backtracked. The rationale was that Lincoln thought misinformation from the opposition unknowingly influenced the CPC decision. So Rieves created a dateline and noted that no supposed misinformation was noted since August, months before the new two-building configuration and four months before the CPC vote. He said that certainly, in the ensuing misinformation-free four months, CPC was not swayed by any information from the original configuration.

Even CPC Chair Tarpley noted that while she voted in favor of the project, she, too, would not support a re-vote. She noted the camel’s nose under the tent created by allowing every disgruntled developer a second bite of the apple.

In the end, Lewis was alone in the wind, solely voting for a re-vote. Even Commissioner Housewright, who seconded his motion, heard the rationale and ultimately saw the wind blowing the other way.

The question remains, what’s next?  As I reported earlier, I’d heard Lincoln was going to try and duke it out at Dallas City Council in January. But with the recent string of losses and now a three quarters super-majority vote required for passage at city council, will Lincoln finally pack up its tent?  Don’t bet on it.


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12 Comment

  • Glad to see that justice and commonsense prevailed. But keep your eye on this one. I’m sure there are more hijinks yet to come from Lincoln and its minions.

  • Are we sure that Ridley and Tarpley have not royally screwed up and fallen into a trap? Now we have a situation where the OLC is in some amorphous way part of the process and the city has effectively allowed an OLC revote of some kind but not a planning commission revote. There also very arguably exists ill will at the OLC level toward Lincoln over and above anything to do with the specifications of their project proposals (and I would not blame them). Normally the OLC can vote any way it wants and the city can do whatever it wants with the recommendation and tough luck. But here we have the example of an OLC revote rejecting a seemingly less objectionable project than a development that it had earlier approved for the same developer at the same site. The city can argue that the membership of the OLC is fluid and procedures were just being followed but that approach would not preclude the possibility of an approval effectively being reversed as a result simply of individual OLC members changing their minds. The real problem is that there is a lot of evidence of extraneous ill-will tied to OLC internal politics being involved in the OLC “revote” and Ridley and Tarpley both appear to have referenced internal procedural priorities for denying Lincoln a revote at the CPC level. So Lincoln is now left with the ability to argue that it was denied due process at the OLC level and equal treatment at the CPC level for similar arbitrary reasons with neutral observers still trying to figure out what is the actual effective relationship between the city and the OLC in connection with the granting of zoning variances. Don’t be surprised if Angela Hunt has now conjured up for herself an effective lever to cut a deal with the city council as a majority but not super-majority vote at that level would be highly questionable at this point and an outright rejection would arguably be affected by the same kind of procedural ill will that affected the OLC “revote” given that half of the CPC members who voted 7-5 to reject the project are now in some way on record in favor of the project.

    • How was Lincoln denied due process at OLC? That’s ridiculous. OLC said no thank you to Lincoln four visits out of five. They were never denied a request to argue their case. The February 2018 meeting, at which they managed to get “support” with a one-vote margin, only happened because of numerous neighborhood members being missing at that meeting (including myself).

      • Consider Ms. Tarpley’s vote yesterday. She openly voted for reasons unrelated to the underlying zoning submission to deny a re-vote even though there existed a clear indication that six of the twelve commissioners including herself supported the submission on the merits with the thirteenth commissioner not having had the opportunity to provide officially a clear indication of his/her preference. Similarly, Lincoln’s argument as to the OLC might be that the political infighting between two factions at the OLC as detailed on this blog was such that the OLC vote on its last submission was more an internal political litmus test than an open vote on the merits of its project. The effective reversal of the prior vote in favor of the project could be said to support this argument.

        • Where do you get the idea that six of the twelve commissioners support the submission; opposing a motion to deny is not the same as supporting the applicant’s request. Lewis merely said he wanted more time… also, we now have 13 commissioners.

          We still have situation where this is a material violation of the city’s official land use plan, consistently opposed by the Oak Lawn Committee for over 2 years (except on one occasion, when the applicant incorrectly told OLC it was going to bury the parking, and the applicant was directed to obtain community support), and the community’s massive opposition.

          As my Uncle Arzee used to always say: “This dog don’t hunt!”

        • I can assure you the vote taken in October upon Lincoln’s fifth visit was not a political one. It was a policy vote. It was ALL about the proposal to blow up the MF2 on that site. That is a vote on the merits.

  • My expressed view was that six commissioners have provided a “clear indication” of support and you would be making a very strong point had the vote been 7-to-6 that the vote of the thirteenth commissioner against reconsideration was enough to cancel out any assumption of support by Lewis. However, the vote was 12-to-1 leaving the question open as to why the motion to reconsider vote did not even begin to mirror the voting result that could be expected were the submission reconsidered on its merits. My guess is that the five commissioners who voted for the submission voted against the motion in support of perceived commission prerogatives because they could not trust that Lincoln did not have the support to flip a vote on the merits which in turn leads to the possibility that a super-majority vote is now being required at a the city council level on a submission that in actuality now enjoys majority CPC support on the merits. This should be especially galling to developer and the sellers in that they are also supposed to in some way accept at the same time that the OLC somehow actually opposed a submission that it had approved in an open vote.

    • A vote against denial is very different than a vote in favor. Those voting against denial could well have either wanted more time to review (this is what Lewis said he wanted, NOT that he supported the project), or supported a variation of the staff recommendation (staff OPPOSES the developer’s height and density request, and proposed something much smaller, instead). There is no evidence that CPC supports the developer’s request.

      With respect to the OLC, again, they have now voted not to support this project on three separate occasions between 2016 and 2018– the fourth vote (where it passed by one vote) appears to have been tainted by committee-packing, voter fraud, member intimidation, threats against current and former OLC officers, and false statements by the applicant.

      Similarly, there have been allegations that a city council member attempted to meddle in the CPC deliberations, which may have resulted in the applicant’s second trip to CPC– if true, that would be a violation of the Dallas City Code.

      • Pretty clear from your comments that the matter is a complete muddle at this point. So why did not Tarpley et al make clear that they were going to support the motion thus turning the vote effectively into a nonbinding proxy re-vote on the existing submission. If the vote went 7-to-6 against the motion, the developer would be left with nothing to complain about at any level and hopefully the matter would have been over. If the motion carried, the practical effect would have been to kick the matter to the city council for an up-or-down majority vote as no one could really consider a CPC vote in favor of the submission determinative at this point any more than the OLC “re-vote” might be so considered. Instead we have a situation where a council member who considers Lincoln’s proposal an abomination on the merits like I do might and maybe should as a matter of principle feel bound to support the submission to avoid participating in a triple procedural screwing of a developer that should have a right to an objection hearing on the merits. Can’t get around the conclusion that Tarpley’s vote against the motion reflected above all support for an institutional imperative to prevent the CPC’s importance being diminished by allowing stray flippers effectively to decide to kick matters to the city council without a super-majority requirement. I don’t really see a substantial downside to the practice, especially in light of the confusion surrounding the Lincoln matter making a super-majority requirement for the council vote seem very inappropriate.

        • This lengthy case has been one of the most heavily scrutinized cases in recent history.

          Lincoln got a sum total of FIVE shots at OLC approval… something almost unheard of… yet they failed.

          Lincoln got TWO shots at CPC approval after multiple hearings, something that hasn’t been done sense the park fracking scandal several years ago… yet they also failed there, just as the proponents of fracking in our parks failed.

          Maybe it’s time for Ms. Hunt and Lincoln to drop their attitude of entitlement and start playing by the same rules as every other developer who appears before OLC and CPC.

          • All this shows is that Lincoln and Angela Hunt were so able to stress the system as to force both the OLC and CPC to abandon concepts of objectivity and procedural fairness to follow their institutional imperatives of maintaining their institutional prerogatives. This is all testimony to the diminished business climate in Dallas proper that has provoked developers to such insolence and their supporters to such desperation for tax relief. None of this bodes well for the OLC and the area plan longer term.