It is not enough that the hotly contested District 13 City Council race between Laura Miller and Jennifer Staubach Gates has frozen forward progress Behind the Pink Wall, keeping victims of the Preston Place fire in limbo as to their financial future. Now it could also stymie new home development in Northwest Dallas.
About 4.4 acres of land at 10210 Webb Chapel Road once belonged to Mi Escualita Preschool. The property has sat vacant for at least six and a half years, but was recently was purchased by developer David Gleeson with hopes to build detached single-family homes on the land with a large national homebuilder such as David Weekley Homes. The homes, perfect for downsizing Baby Boomers, will be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 square feet in size, with prices ranging from $375,000 to $475,000.
And Gleeson has followed city protocol in order to obtain zoning for the new homes, which he says will add value to the neighborhood. And though he has talked to them, as well as other builders, the development is not a David Weekley Homes project at this point.
Still, Laura Miller included the development as No. 8 on her “Top 10” reasons of why Jennifer Gates won’t debate her (there have been at least 3 debates) and why District 13 residents should vote her in and incumbent Gates out. Miller also included the proposed development in her Dallas Morning News Voter profile.
Miller’s mailer states: “a grassy church site on Webb Chapel Road between Walnut Hill and Royal is getting up-zoned from single-family residential with no zoning notification signs on the property as required by law, to permit 35 tract homes on 4.4 acres twice what is allowed now. This is happening over the sharp objections of ALL the adjacent neighborhoods.”
Her Voter Profile states:
One stark difference between myself and Councilwoman Gates is that I put homeowners first; she puts developers first.
While there are many examples over the past six years in District 13, one stands out: Homeowners in the Joe’s Creek Walnut Garden Neighborhood Association have been opposed since November to a proposal by David Weekley Homes to build 36 tract homes on 4.4 acres on Webb Chapel Road (between Walnut Hill and Royal) currently zoned for half that many homes. The property backs right up to lovely, single-family homes in Sparkman Estates and Walnut Garden, where neighbors overwhelmingly favor new construction similar to theirs . So little grass will remain on the property that the developer must build a retention pond, guaranteed to overflow onto Webb Chapel’s Dead Man’s Curve, so named for its unsafe bend at that location. When the developer initially asked to meet with homeowners, he brought Gates’ Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy, who insisted that building 36 homes on property zoned for 18 was normal and that homeowners simply negotiate their support in exchange for the developer fixing some of their shabby sidewalks. Subsequent emails to Gates and Murphy opposing the development (which I have copies of) were ignored (Gates) or brushed off (Murphy). Although the developer promised to keep neighbors up-to-date on his progress, one critical action was not relayed: the filing of the formal zoning case on January 28, 2019. Homeowners had no idea until I visited the property at their request last month and, suspecting foul play, called City Hall to inquire. Not only were homeowners not told, they were purposely misled: In violation of Sec. 51A-1.106 of the Dallas Development Code, the developer has never posted zoning notification signs on the property, required within 14 days of the filing. As of March 24, at 12 pm, when I submitted this questionnaire, there were still no signs. This deeply immoral behavior will stop if I am elected.
“Laura Miller is not being factual,” says Gleeson. “By including our pending zoning application in her mailer and in her voter survey, which the DMN published, it implies that Jennifer Gates supports our position. Yet I have never talked to, emailed, or discussed this case in any way with Jennifer Gates and have no idea what her position is, so I wonder how Laura knows this?”
Miller further claims that no zoning notification signs were posted on the property. But they were — they were just mysteriously stolen.
“We installed one of the city-issued signs on Feb. 1, and took a photo of it for proof,” says Gleeson. “We did not realize we were to have filled out a sign request form when they gave us the sign.”
Mysteriously, the sign was torn down about 1-2 weeks later.
“When we went back to the city to get a replacement sign (the city prints and issues the signs so they are all the same size and standard), their large scale printer was broken and remained so for about two weeks,” says Gleeson. “We were finally notified it had been fixed, and then we got another sign and installed it. Took a photo of it as well.”
Another misnomer in Laura Miller’s mailer: she is claiming that the project will put “35 tract homes, twice what is allowed now” on the 4.4 acres, when that is not the case at all.
“She calls them ‘tacky track homes,’ ” says Gleeson, “twice the current zoning.”
In fact, the current single-family zoning will allow up to 19 houses, but Gleeson wants to add an additional 16 to what is already permitted.
And since when did $400,000 homes become “tract homes”? Maybe in Preston Hollow?
“Those prices are above the values of many of the existing homes in the immediate area,” says Gleeson. “In fact, in my emails with people in the neighborhood, many indicate more concern with their tax values going up from our project.”
A nearby listing at 3491 Timber Trail is already under an option contract for the 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath, 1956 era-ranch marketed as updated. Asking price: $499,900.
Laura Miller lives in a $4.9 million Old Preston Hollow estate. But the vast majority of District 13 is comprised of what once were once “tract” homes built in the 1950s and 1960s, post World War II.
The homes surrounding this development, called Northaven Trail Village, are on the tax rolls for $290,000 to $360,000, some of the most affordable single-family housing in the district.
In many parts of District 13, particularly Midway Hollow, new homes are being built for $1.5 million and upwards. But in Gleeson’s opinion, it’s the teardowns that are driving land values.
“So 16 brand new houses are going to overwhelm traffic in North Dallas?” asks Gleeson. “This development fronts on Webb Chapel Road, one of North Dallas’ six-lane divided thoroughfares, so it is suitable for handling any small amount of additional traffic.”
And the north boundary of the site is the Oncor high power line easement that runs all through North Dallas near Northaven, and now contains the Northaven Trail, which links this northern part of Dallas to the entire city, making it even more suitable for new development: Residents will have direct access to the Northaven Trail and park-like setting, on foot.