Members of CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development), the group that was against changes to PD-15, has taken over the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association. The stacked deck appears to be an attempt to gain leverage with a city government that’s moved on.
At the end of the City Council vote on PD-15 redevelopment, University Park resident and Pink Wall eight-plex apartment owner, Steve Dawson, told council they hadn’t seen the last of the protesters. After the unanimous passage of the zoning changes, Dawson told the Dallas Morning News that “they would take the next week or two to consider their legal options,” and that they could “request a legal injunction to stop development from proceeding while the lawsuit was pending.”
According to an excruciatingly detailed email circulating through the neighborhood by Claire Stanard, a former PHSNA board member, Dawson also threatened Council Member Jennifer Gates: “he intended to sue her personally for ethics violations using the power of the three attorneys in his family and planned to get Northwest Parkway blockaded in order to prevent construction equipment from entering, and intended to sue the City over abandoning the Area Plan.”
Stanards’ email continues, “I was also sent a text by Steve Dawson saying that he was upset by the fact that Jennifer Gates had finally done something positive for the neighborhood in agreeing to the opening of Tulane Road to Northwest Highway on Sept. 5 and honoring her commitment to the RPS.” [Note: RPS is Residential Proximity Slope, a city ordinance that controls height near certain residential neighborhoods.)
City Hall sources tell me that Dawson’s years of unending opposition to any form of development have left him little political capital. And yet, at this pivotal time for the Pink Wall, when moving smoothly forward with a functioning conduit to City Hall is crucial, the PHSNA appoints Dawson as its president.
Usually, I’d have said he was elected, but sources say that’s not what happened.
On October 17, the group had their annual meeting, and our own publisher Candy Evans spoke. During the business portion of the meeting (which Evans did not attend). Dawson’s candidacy for the board was revealed, and Stanard, the board member who previously raised Dawson’s City Hall problem to then-president John Pritchett, found herself unknowingly removed from the ballot at the last minute. She was branded a “loose cannon” and the board meeting was held without her.
So the person who raised the flag that the guy dropping lawsuit bombs around 1500 Marilla might not be the best interface with the city was shown the door for her trouble. (I’m confused, is this the Pink Wall or the White House?)
This should be concerning to everyone in the neighborhood because “loose cannon” Claire Stanard was the one-woman band who got the Texas Department of Transportation, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Dallas streets department, and Council Member Jennifer Gates to the table to open Tulane Blvd at Northwest Highway. You remember? The plan to mitigate construction and new resident traffic from clogging up the neighborhood? The area’s No. 1 problem? Yeah, that. And she’s gone.
Who’s in Charge?
With Stanard pushed out, who’s going to lead that charge? Who’s going to manage relations between the Pink Wall and the city, and TXDoT and NTCoG? CARD member and Athena resident Barbara Dewberry replaces Stanard as City Liaison.
But back to the shenanigans. CARD member Dawson was put on the ballot by the nominating committee (Athena’s Carla Young and Preston Tower’s Keith Burtner – both CARD members). That committee was appointed unilaterally without board input by former PHSNA president and CARD member John Pritchett.
The PHSNA board of eight members now all represent anti-development interests and all the committees are led by representatives from the Athena and Preston Tower, the most vocal anti-development constituencies.
Pink Wall residents who supported development have no voice in their own neighborhood association. Those opposed to development but who have accepted the outcome and want to move forward, are in the same boat. What was supposed to be an apolitical association was hollowed-out to give CARD a new clubhouse and veneer as a representative neighborhood association.
Running Afoul of Rules
But remember, I said Dawson wasn’t really elected? Since PHSNA has been a registered nonprofit with the state since 2008, there are rules and procedures they must follow. One of those is that it’s the board itself who appoints the president at a publicly called meeting. There apparently has been no meeting called since Dawson became a board member where he could have then been elected (by the board) to president. Given the makeup of the new board, I assume it’s a slam-dunk. But if you’re truly nonprofit, these things should be done in public.
I think Tulane will be opened. I think council member Gates will pick up the ball and make sure it happens. She’s always said she wants what’s best – in spite of all the hate she’s received as a result (whereas I’d have supplied the petard). I think Dewberry has her own City Hall baggage and lacks the skills needed to provide meaningful input. I predict a few panicked calls to Stanard who’d be justified in sending to voicemail.
Then, once the deal is done, the same anti-development forces will (again) complain that they had no input into the process.
In fact, I see a lot of complaining about not being listened to. Especially because the haters need the hated at a time when the hated don’t need them – and a stacked deck is the perfect excuse to cut the CARDs.
If all this sounds like something out of Washington D.C. (or grade school), you would not be alone.
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 email@example.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.