Both oppose development because of it being gated. One wants, one doesn’t.

Every zoning case initiates the sending of ballots to every property owner within 500 feet of the proposal. The list of property owners is supplied by the city, which use the list to mail ballots. Since the documents in a zoning case are public record, developers and their representatives often secure the list to educate and influence as well as to secure feedback on their project.

It’s a delicate dance where opposition might be turned into support for a project. As I wrote previously, response rates for these ballots are famously low. There are times when the zoning request is so tiny, it would only matter to the city – in which case there’s barely a return. In more controversial cases where opposition is high and well-organized, the returns are much higher.

All this balloting matters for several reasons. Obviously, the City Plan Commission and City Council want to know what the immediate neighbors, who will be impacted most, think. They also want to understand the basis for their opposition and whether there are common, valid themes. If a vast majority of respondents hate one thing, and it’s a changeable and bad thing, the city can use their powers to make it work.

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Did a developer offer to buy votes of approval for his proposed residential project in North Dallas?

On Sunday, I received a note from Doug Bedell, a resident who seems to be leading the opposition to the proposed Northaven Trail Village project that would see 35 homes constructed on a 4.4-acre parcel zoned for 19 homes. The development was part of former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller’s anti-development campaign rhetoric and one of three precincts she bested council member Jennifer Gates. (Background here, here)

Bedell forwarded me an email from another resident, Amy Wallace titled, “Northaven Trail Village buying votes.” The brief email, dated June 12th, stated, “I was approached Sunday by Mr. Gleeson, who wants to build the homes where the school is. He was trying to collect my blue form for the city. I didn’t give it to him. Today he called me and offered me $300 if he could pick it up and deliver it downtown. He’s trying to buy us off!(Emphasis theirs)

For reference, “Gleeson” is David Gleeson who’s working with David Weekley Homes on this project.

There was no evidence supplied that this offer was made to more than Ms. Wallace and Gleeson responded that, “I made such an offer to one person — out of frustration and exasperation at trying to get that person to take the time to fill out the form. I have hand delivered letters/presentation to 49 homeowners who have not turned in their forms; placed MANY phone calls and follow-up calls; knocked on doors; follow-up emails.  MOST of the 119 residents in the Notification Area designated by the City obviously do not care about this case.”

A second response clarified, “no payments have, or will be made.”

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