The morning after the Preston Place fire, the extent of the damage was revealed to be catastrophic.

By Kevin McMahon
Guest Contributor

Recently, guest writer Barbara Dewberry expressed her opposition to the City Plan Commission’s proposal for updated zoning for PD-15. I would like the opportunity to offer a counterpoint and speak to the merits of the proposal. But first, I should state something up front some may consider relevant.

I am a former resident of Preston Place.

I lived there about four years. Our unit was the first home purchase my wife and I made, and we undertook a major renovation when we moved in, doing much of the work ourselves on nights and weekends. We aren’t real estate flippers. We had no intention of buying and selling and moving on to the next project. Instead, we put a lot of care and detail into our unit because we planned to call it home for many years. And then one Friday night, we watched with our then-5-year-old son as a fire indifferently consumed all that hard work.

Now two and a half years later, I see another destructive force at work in the neighborhood. It takes the form of hyperbole and fear of change which form the basis of much of the opposition to CPC’s proposal. Ms. Dewberry’s arguments are this hyperbole at work. (more…)

I’ve written about new developments in the Oak Lawn and Preston Hollow areas for a few years. Many of you have read about the PD-15 antics with the same hoary relish you watch a reality show. But as Dallas grows, and development reaches into more neighborhoods, there are lessons to be learned once you cut through the caustic tomfoolery.

By-Right vs. Zoning Cases

There are two kinds of developments – by-right and those requiring a zoning case. In a by-right situation, there’s not a lot you can do, it’s as it says on the tin, by right. A building permit is filed and they’re off to the races.

Construction requiring a zoning case is where the action is at. Whether large or small, any variance to a property’s underlying zoning requires the approval of that exception. Those cases are filed at City Hall and are then publicized in the immediate neighborhood – typically within 500 feet of the edges of the property filing the case. Those cases are taken up by and require approval from the City Plan Commission and the City Council. Between all that is the community wooing.

And if you’re going to be wooed by developers, there are some things you should know.

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You’re the North Texas Tollway Authority, so I get that you’re unlikely to walk a lot to clear your head. But as a minimal driver, I get plenty of walk/think time in.

I was re-reminded recently of your debacle in trying to put a useless tollway down the Trinity River – an automotive Schlitterbahn if you will. As I recall, no one seemed to want it except those who were building it and raking a profit from its operation. Not your finest hour.

But the other shoe no one really talks about is the fact that you were planning to mortgage your soul of tollways and their future revenue generation to secure the funds to pay for it (the part state and fed wouldn’t cough-up).  As I recall hearing, NTTA uses existing tollways and future tolls as “collateral” for more toll roads.  Fine, nothing unusual there.

But that “soul” seems to still be mortgageable. I have a better idea than sending it down a river.

When I think of the petroleum industry, I see them scrambling to ditch “oil” for the less burn-y “energy” just like another greasy business woke up one day as KFC. Both realized they were too narrowly defining themselves in unsustainable language. It’s time for NTTA to broaden its horizons too by replacing “tollway” with “transportation”.

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