City Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates started the Planned Development 15 community meeting Wednesday night, and Laura Miller, her opponent for the District 13 seat, ended it.
Former Dallas Mayor Miller was the last of some 50 neighbors who signed up to speak at the two-hour meeting at the Hyer Elementary cafeteria. Because of the high volume of speakers, each was limited to one minute. Miller didn’t introduce herself and went over her time limit by one minute. (Watch the video here.)
The PD-15 area is located north of West Northwest Highway between Pickwick Lane and Baltimore Avenue and encompasses six condominium complexes. At issue: What will become of the condos now after Preston Place burned down in March 2017? What are the height restrictions? What’s the grand vision for redevelopment? Millions of dollars are at stake.
A second steering committee assigned by Gates has been unable to come to a compromise after meeting 12 times, she announced.
“There has been a lot of misinformation circulated, and tonight is about facts,” Gates said. “No decisions have been made at this point. We are in a process, and the community input will be included.”
Gates acknowledged how emotional this issue has been for the community.
City Senior Planner Andrew Ruegg presented the city’s recommendation for a plan, explaining that it incorporates much of the feedback from neighbors. The plan calls for two sub-areas. Highlights:
- Sub-area A: Preston Tower will continue to be able to allow limited, non-residential usage on the first and second floors.
- Sub-area B: This area is residential only.
- Those who want to rebuild must submit a development plan.
- There are limits on density of units per acres, building height and setbacks.
- If developers would like to construct a concept beyond these constraints, a zoning change request is required from all developers under a united front.
Grover Wilkins, a member of the second steering committee and a representative of the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association, presented an alternative plan that half of the steering committee agreed on. The idea is for architects to design one concept for all properties, suggesting no more than 10 stories on Northwest Highway and four stories on the north side.
Gates explained that she appreciated the committee’s work, but she expressed concern about the developers’ ability to come together under one united front. She said developers’ property rights must be considered.
Neighbors’ comments ranged from concerns about traffic, approval of the city’s plan and frustration over how long it’s taking to arrive at a resolution to sympathy for those still in limbo after the fire. Others mentioned a “mysterious” flyer distributed on neighbors’ doors, signs posted in front of the condos telling the towers to go away and a secret meeting at Maggiano’s between neighbors and developers that caused a lot of confusion.
“I have a stake in this because I’m a neighbor, and I worked on the area plan a long time ago,” Miller said at the end of the meeting.
Next steps, according to the City’s Sustainable Development and Construction presentation:
- The City Plan Commission will hold a hearing, tentatively scheduled for March 31, to determine whether to recommend the proposed changes to City Council.
- City Council will hold a public hearing to determine whether to approve the proposed zoning change.
If you’d like to send feedback about PD-15, contact Ruegg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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