Saturday, May 21, 2005

Notes from a ZOAC meeting, decision denied

Subject: Fwd: ZOAC & Overlay

From MyOldHome Yahoo Group. Action Item:
From Peter D'Apice's comments re overlay zoning:
ZOAC needs to hear from homeowners. One thing we and other interested
homeowners can and must do immediately is write the ZOAC members
before the June 2 meeting. (NOTE: See roster of ZOAC and city staff
below) I would copy our council members (email addresses at the bottom of this email). If approved by ZOAC, this ordinance then goes to the City Plan Commission, which will hold hearings, and if they approve it, it goes to the City Council to be
voted on. The builders are all over this and writing their letters, and
the chair of ZOAC is encouraging them to do so. We need to counter that
with our own letters and we need to get our neighbors to do the same.

NEIGHBORHOODS Overlay Zoning Tool

Peter D'Apice writes on the last ZOAC meeting where the proposed
zoning tool was debated:
I attended the ZOAC meeting on May 19. There were so many interested
parties that they moved the meeting to the City Council horseshoe.
Carol Scott chaired the meeting. After initial briefing by the City
Attorney, Scott opened the meeting up to public speakers.

Our neighborhood (Northwood Hills) is at the early stages of the
teardown/rebuild phenomenon that has afflicted other parts of North
Dallas with a motley mix of McMansions shoehorned among older style,
single story, yet still spacious and valuable, homes. The teardowns
built by speculators - hit-and-run builders - who care nothing for the
long term impact of their actions on the neighborhood, don't match. By
contrast, at least in my part of Northwood Hills, we have had some
rebuilds and major renovations that do blend well with the neighborhood.
So we know it can be done. We homeowners know that change is coming
and we welcome new neighbors and revitilization, but we need tools to
control the orderly development and re-development of our neighborhood,
to maintain the elegance of our community and preserve the value of our

I spoke at the ZOAC meeting, as representative of the NHHA board, with
Board approval. But I added that I have heard from many of our
constituents who are very concerned about the teardown issue. I pointed
out that when Mr. Mixon first developed my section of Northwood Hills in
1958, like any subdivision, he did it on an orderly, planned basis, and
that although not all the houses are the same, they do share similar
features. When builders come in and tear down piecemeal, you upset that
pattern. We need a tool like the stabilization overlay to assure
measured re-development of our neighborhood.

Carol Scott, from the outset of the meeting, was clearly hostile to the
proposal. Hard to read the others. Tabled until June 2. Mike Jung of
the Committee said that on June 2 he was going to be prepared to vote up
or down on this, and other committee members agreed that would happen.
Scott invited those attending to submit their views, recognizing, I bet,
that most of those attending were builders or realtors who opposed the

I think the Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Proposal is a good one
and lets us reclaim, in effect, some of our deed restrictions. And one
thing I was reminded of at the meeting is that certain features of
houses in my older part of Northwood Hills differ from those of other
parts of Northwood Hills, such as the number of stories (and I would bet
the original deed restrictions differ as well.) The beauty of the
stabilization overlay is that each section of our neighborhood can
tailor the overlay to its own predominant features (again, maybe using
that section's deed restrictions as one of the guides).

ZOAC needs to hear from homeowners. We need to counter that with our
own letters and we need to get our neighbors to do the same.

ZOAC Membership RosterChair Carol Scott 214-750-7373
cscott@virginiacook.comVice Chair Kraig Post 214-954-0430
kmpost@oglesbygreene.comBill "Bulldog" Cunningham 214-824-0281
Jessica@bulldogcunningham.comAnn Murphy 972-867-7039
aemurp@hotmail.comMichael Jung 214-651-4724
Michael.Jung@strasburger.comMelvin Traylor 469-471-3877
mdtraylor239@aol.comTaylor Bowen 214-869-5406
City Staff:David Cossum Asst DirectorDallas Developmental Services
214-670-4216 RogersAsst City Attorney
The Overlay concept is the result of the work of the Single Family

Peter D'Apice follows with comments about proposed Neighborhood
Stabilization Overlay ordinance:
One of the issues raised by the proposed Neighborhood Stabilization
Overlay ordinance is its impact on neighborhood housing values. In
particular, opponents of the proposal argue that it will reduce
neighborhood values, while the teardown of old homes and construction of
non-conforming McMansions will increase neighborhood property values.
However, I don't think such McMansions necessarily improve the value of
the existing neighboring houses, for the neighbors or for the city.

For example, in my neighborhood, a 50-year old home, which is a
building class 21, cannot be compared by DCAD for appraisal purposes to
the new 2001 McMansion across the street, which is a building class 23.
Thus, the new $1.2 million house will not impact the older home's DCAD

By contrast, assume the guy next door to the McMansion refurbished his
older house, while retaining its basic style, and improved its value.
Because his house is a building class 21, his increased value does
affect the DCAD appraised value of the other comparable older homes in
the area.

If anything, the McMansion threatens the value of the older house, as
the increasing penetration of non-conforming McMansions into the
neighborhood makes the older house worth no more than the dirt it sits
on. Buyers will see that the neighborhood is in transition and will
view the older houses as teardowns. Owners of older homes in a
transitional neighborhood are discouraged from refurbishing their homes,
since they may not recoup their investment if the house is never worth
more than lot value. Thus, values stagnate and may even in turn drag
down the value of the McMansions. And during the long years that it
takes for a neighborhood to go through this painful transition, a
transition that may stall if the economy dips, it has an absurd mix of
house styles, sizes and values, with neighbors divided between those who
resent the newer homes and those who can't wait for the older homes to
be torn down.

Property values overall would increase where major renovations or
teardown/rebuilds conform to the general features of the existing
neighborhood. The rising tide of value would then raise all boats,
and older houses would be worth refurbishing. With the stabilization
overlay, even if the transition from old to new stalls midstream, the
retained consistency throughout the neighborhood makes the transition less glaring, with consequent improved value for all homeowners.

Plus, for me, there is a value beyond the dollar value of my house. I
loved the feel of my neighborhood when I moved in. The hit-and-run
builders are destroying it with their motley, mis-matched designs.


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