With luck, this is the last time we will see this rendering of Lincoln Property’s Lincoln Katy Trail project. Rewinding the clock, in February, the project passed Oak Lawn Committee by a single contentious vote after multiple unsuccessful trips seeking support. This scant win was followed in July by a disastrous City Plan Commission meeting where no commissioner would second a motion my Philip Kingston’s District 14 representative Paul Ridley – and several calling for Lincoln to return with a better plan. After that meeting I saw the city filing of neighborhood support and saw that aside from those cashing out and moving on, not a single entity was in support of the project.

In the ensuing weeks, Lincoln managed to get a letter of support from the Friends of the Katy Trail (more on that later).   However, a meeting last week at the Mayfair condos for its residents plus those of the Vendome and the Claridge resulted in no change of heart from the opposed buildings.

Couple all this with a fierce, largely unsuccessful lobbying campaign around City Hall, and even Lincoln had to finally read the writing on the wall.

At the CPC meeting, Lincoln’s chief opponent stated that there was a way for a redesigned building to move forward. I wondered why, when they were given an out, did they seem too arrogant to take it?

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(Editor’s Note: This column expresses opinion of the writer, and should not be interpreted as the editorial opinion of CandysDirt.com. We believe many voices uphold our core mission: a transparent discussion about North Texas real estate 24/7 )

Times change. Times change in city council representation. Back in 2007, then Oak Lawn council member Angela Hunt was quoted in the Dallas Morning News leading the charge against a proposed Gables development at Carlisle and Hall Streets bordering the Katy Trail.

Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, who represents the area where Gables is proposing to build, says she’ll ask the council to deny Gables’ zoning request “with prejudice.”

“The overwhelming number of residents who will be affected by this change are opposed, and I am elected to represent them,“ Ms. Hunt said.

“I have not had a case come before me where such a large majority of residents are so vehemently opposed to a zoning change,” Ms. Hunt said. “There’s a reason we have zoning: so residents have some certainty as to what the future of the community will look like. To me, there’s a high level of proof needed to get a zoning change, and this project doesn’t cut it.”

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Two very different Oak Lawn projects hit CPC Thursday night

It’s difficult being (unpaid) on the City Plan Commission. It’s 9 p.m. and they broke for 10 minutes for a bite to eat before plowing through on another case. Following the lot replatting cases and a West Dallas mobile home park, two Oak Lawn Committee cases hit the horseshoe about the time most of you were solidly into Happy Hour.

The other difficulty must be the variety of cases you see in a given session – anything from a palace to a “solid waste disposal” project. It must be a roller coaster bouncing from the cool to the banal of city planning. In this case, the roller coaster included the well-liked 2727 Turtle Creek mixed use development and the contentious Lincoln Katy Trail project.

It’s also got to be frustrating when every protester seems to say, “I’m not opposed to development, but …”

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District 14 Dallas City Council member was officially reprimanded by the council after using his office to post a video on Facebook about a fundraiser.

By Ashley Stanley
Special Contributor

Dallas City Council members engaged in a lengthy discussion on Wednesday about the so-called “Kingston ethical lapse.” The body was charged with voting on a recommendation from the Ethics Advisory Commission to reprimand Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston for using his city office to film a campaign video — a clear violation of the ethics code recently approved by Kingston and his colleagues.

I was there hoping to come away with a story about economic development and performing arts because I attended a presentation at The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the day before. I wanted to see how this meeting would go and what outrage might ensue, especially with the bond program vote concluded, which included funding to repair several cultural and arts facilities such as the Wyly Theater.  I missed the arts item, but I did hear enough to appreciate Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s bathroom-wall article posed early (4 a.m.!) this morning.

Schutze referred to his weekly paper as the dish. If that is true, then I write for the dirt! Councilmember Lee Kleinman called Kingston’s lapse “going too far” and said it was “just wrong,” according to a story in The Dallas Morning News by Tristan Hallman. I missed that part of the conversation, but I sat down in time to hear Councilman Adam Medrano (a personal friend of Kingston’s) say, “Philip made a dumb mistake.” Or did he? Who knows? Who cares? This meeting was all about Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, and I heard every word from that dude. Council meetings with that guy in office are free, front-row tickets to the funny show.

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Third time is a charm I suppose.  Today’s city council vote wasn’t unanimous, but one vote shy didn’t matter.  I will give council member Philip Kingston credit for finally bringing it home.  After all the pros and cons were done he called the compromise a “no brainer” and urged approval.  I’ve certainly given him enough grief for diddling around with this and giving false hope to those wanting to stop it … and I stand by that.

As I’ve said to friends in recent days, it’s like you want to break-up with your boyfriend. Is it better to do that the day before Valentine’s Day or the day after? They’re hurt either way, but “after” they know they were a pity-date and the roses a consolation prize. So yeah, I think he could have brought this ship into the harbor quicker and spared some of that false hope.

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Last night, city council member Philip Kingston spoke at The Mansion in an attempt to bring clarity to the Toll Brothers project.  Unfortunately, after a good start, he failed to seal the deal.  Kingston presented the big picture on the project – namely that Toll Brothers is completely within their rights to build a high-rise that’s uglier, boxier, more dense, with worse parking, and that looks terrible on the street.  In fact Toll Brothers delivered a letter to Kingston and the plot sellers stating that they have every intention of building the worse-in-every-way plan should this better-in-every-way plan be shot down at city council.

Kingston’s question to the audience was simple and rational.  Essentially, given the two alternatives, why should he support the worse “by right” plan? “By right” does what it says on the tin; no neighborhood or city involvement period. It’s a simple enough question. But for people for whom the only answer was “neither,” that question was rationally unanswerable.  “Neither” isn’t an option, something rich folks ain’t used to hearing.

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Yesterday’s Dallas City Council meeting saw Toll Brothers present their project that has wound its way for 18 months through the Oak Lawn Committee, an Oak Lawn Committee sub-committee, and back to the Oak Lawn Committee before last month being unanimously passed by City Plan Commission.

Throughout, we’ve seen various arguments against the project thrown at the wall only to slide off with a splat from either a lack of evidence or contradictory statements and actions.

Given that so little opposition showed up at Plan Commission and even fewer at yesterday’s council meeting, it seemed to be a fait acompli.

Nope.

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It’s true: municipal bonds can help Dallas catch up on long-neglected infrastructure upgrades and repairs, but they can make projects cost more in the long run. (Photo: Luis Tamayo via flickr)

By Ashley Stanley
Special Contributor

City Council members were briefed last week about the Citizens Bond Task Force’s and city staff’s recommendations for an $800 million bond program that will appear on November’s ballot.

Stop what you are doing and ask yourself this question: “Do I know what a municipal bond is?” Allow me a minute or two to explain what they are and how they work in layman’s terms.

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