Friday, August 12, 2005

Overlay Passed Plan Commission - Needs Support Now

Thanks primarily to a good background of evidence that dates back to early in the Task Force process last year, and very compelling arguments on the part of the pro-overlay attendees, the Stabilization Overlay passed the Plan Commission last night.

Next, it will be voted on by the City Council. If it passes, Dallas neighborhoods will have the option of choosing, or not choosing, a basic stabilization overlay and zoning guidelines.

However, to counter well-funded opposition, a much greater level of support was and is still needed from individuals like you, or we will see unregulated construction destroy every neighborhood not now covered by a Conservation/Historic District and ruin current residents' investments in their homes.

TO CONTROL YOUR OWN PROPERTY'S DESTINY, YOU MUST CALL, and WRITE LETTERS (NOT JUST EMAIL!) to your elected City Council member. Click here and click on your district for contact information.

** To help you start, we have a message here soon that says exactly what to say, and we need your support.
"Dear Councilmember _______, I am calling to support the Stabilization Overlay zoning document as approved by ZOAC. We need the ability to choose, or not choose, height, size and setback requirements with a majority vote, in order to preserve the value and continuity of our neighborhoods. Please let us know if you support the Overlay document as a tool for self-governing a basic level of zoning."

The fact is, commercial interests are actively courting every council member, and calling every day. We need more letters and more calls from private citizens, from Dallas voters, if this measure is to pass Council and be significant in any way.

The entire "Metro-Tex Realtors Association" came out in large numbers with their no-overlay stickers as well, to explain how they represent the builder, and not the resident. Apparently, having citizens decide their own zoning matters is "unconstitutional" and they threatened lawsuits, economic ruin and total chaos if residents had such rights.

In a unique example of public speaking, organizing realtor Diane B. complimented the Plan Commission for being of diverse racial origin. When asked if she supported Conservation Districts, she spoke at length about how she likes trees. "I'm not a lawyer, but I have 4 sons who are," she said. "And they tell me not to be a lawyer."

To all the realtors out there who might still have a conscience
As you listened to private citizens simply trying to defend their basic right to have some zoning self-regulation, did you perhaps feel a little guilty about your position? These are the same neighbors you helped buy and sell houses in Dallas a few years ago, and now you stand against them. Or do you think you can't make money without disrupting perfectly stable neighborhoods that would have grown in value if they were renovated instead of destroyed?

REALTORS who pledge to be considerate of existing neighborhoods get our endorsement and we'll recommend listing with them.

He approved the gun, but not the bullets
Plan Commission chair Bruce Wilke, whose current residence value was recently protected by a Conservation District, made a move at the end of the meeting while passing the overlay to geld the document for other residents. Wilke recommended that number of stories, maximum height and floor area ratio (FAR) be dropped from the available controls and 75% signatures must be achieved. An overlay document without height or size restrictions would be totally useless. Don't worry too much, this is what Dallas is like.

Fortunately, the document has PASSED, and the Plan Commission's recommendations are just that: recommendations. We can continue to show and promote our support for the original Stabilization Overlay document in order to get it through City Council.

If you've waited to act, to call your representatives, to tell your neighbors to support a basic level of sanity in residential zoning, the time to start is now. Seriously WE NEED YOUR CALLS and LETTERS.


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