In our continuing Dallas City Council election coverage (ha!), let’s take a look at the third of three precincts won by Laura Miller (and its adjacent precinct tie).
Miller ran her campaign on an anti-development platform that resulted in her winning just three precincts where redevelopment cases lit a certain NIMBY fire. The first two were easy to understand for CandysDirt.com readers as they involved the extensively covered Preston Center and the Pink Wall’s PD-15.
The third development case was highlighted by Candy back in April and involved the redevelopment of the former Mi Escualita Preschool on Webb Chapel just north of Walnut Hill by David Weekley Homes (see map above). At the time it was part of Miller’s campaign fodder, but the election’s over and it’s time to look a little deeper and talk about today.
As happens in many zoning cases, there seems to be a few Negative Nancys hell-bent on stirring up opposition armed with scant or misleading facts. In this project’s case, notification signs were stolen (twice) and then the developer got accused of not posting them. A neighborhood meeting was set but a local “representative” told neighbors they weren’t public and not to come. So yeah, once the neighborhood finally showed up for a public meeting, there were a lot of questions and frayed nerves.
In the weeks since that “first” truly public meeting, the agitator has been sidelined and a new selection of neighbors are getting up to speed. They spoke with District 13 City Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy about their concerns and the lack of communication. Murphy agreed to postpone the original May 16 Plan Commission date so neighbors could finally have the time to evaluate the proposal properly.
Some who believed the Carmageddon scenarios painted have since understood that 35 homes, 16 more than zoned for, with one entrance/exit onto Webb Chapel will cause zero increase in traffic. True, the city will be evaluating a northern entrance to Love Field this summer that proposes to use Webb Chapel, but still, the traffic from 35 homes is tiny in the grand scheme of Webb Chapel. And besides, how much traffic was generated during rush hour by the former preschool?
Initially, the mini-development was to have been gated. The existing residents thought that was a bit standoffish and asked that the gate be removed. It has been.
There is also a concern about privacy with the new development backing up to existing homes. My solution was simple: Have the builder construct single-story homes on those lots while reserving two-story homes for lots further away. This would eliminate concerns with peering. BUT, back when the “representative” was keeping the neighborhood out, I hear his insistence at having the lot lines match the neighboring homes caused those lots to become larger, guaranteeing two-story homes where privacy says they shouldn’t be.
Neighbors are also unhappy that it appears none of the mature trees on the site are to be retained. Surely an arborist can be retained to see which trees are salvageable or moveable to retain shade and retain the lived-in look mature trees produce. Based on the site map, there’s to be a detention pond in the upper right above (FYI: Detention ponds are not continually full. They hold storm water before releasing into city drainage). Surely that large tree can be saved? Can’t a few of the large trees in the “clump” similarly be saved and/or relocated? Clear lots make construction cheaper/easier, but mature trees are a long-term enhancement.
Miller called the proposed homes “tract homes,” but at around $400,000, they’ll be priced fairly close to the existing homes. Local resident Clint Fendley liked the price-point noting that the nearby Chapel Downs development’s more expensive new homes don’t appear to be selling well.
Pricing-wise they’re not a tract home (in fact inside the loop, they’re something of a bargain), but they are likely to be very z-z-zuburban in design. Even when building in city environments, David Weekley doesn’t produce actual urban design, preferring brick and stucco with Austin/stacked stone accents. Definitely a far cry from the midcentury post-war ranch homes nearby. Definitely assembly-line design.
The neighborhood was more surprised by this development than they should have been had bad actors not been involved. Also, being an election poster-child surely didn’t help quell the propaganda. The opposition isn’t what it once was now that misunderstandings have become understandings. I wonder if Miller would still win this precinct?
This project returns to Plan Commission on June 6 along with the Pink Wall’s PD-15 – all that’s needed is Saint Michael and All Angels for a hat trick.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.