Historic Dr Pepper site establishes legal precedent

last month was relatively quiet for zoning and and-use issues

Because of the City runoff elections and the transition to the new Council, last month was relatively quiet for zoning and and-use issues.

But the usual ongoing issues continue percolating, and some new proposals are in the pipeline.

For example, historic preservationists lost an important round recently in their legal fight to force FDIC compliance with federal historic preservation review requirements prior to selling the Dr Pepper site at Mockingbird and Greenville.

You may recall that a federal district court in Washington ruled the FDIC had to comply with review requirements prior to the property’s sale. But the next highest court, the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, overruled the lower court, saying federal banking laws give the FDIC broad powers to sell historic buildings without legal review.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling. The FDIC says it currently owns, directly or as security for loans, 17 historic properties throughout the country.

Dal-Mac Investments Corp., which is purchasing the Dr Pepper site, says it will continue to seek ways to preserve at least a portion of the site by working with neighborhood groups.

But at least part of the site apparently will be sold to Kroger Company for construction of a grocery store on the eastern portion of the property. Kroger’s real estate representatives are setting up community meetings to inform neighborhoods about its plans – which are not expected to affect the existing Dr Pepper building.

The process of deciding what to do with the site, and especially the historic building, will continue throughout the summer.

HOT, WET SUMMER: As reported last month, the City Council was scheduled to consider what to do about changing City ordinances, in compliance with state law, to increase regulation of liquor-related uses in neighborhoods.

While the subject remains a hot topic, rumor has it that consideration will be delayed at least several months to enable more legal research and to allow new Council members to study the issue.

Also, the City’s budget process heats up about mid-summer, making consideration of other difficult issues virtually impossible.

As soon as we have more information, we’ll pass it along.

TREE TALES: You may recall earlier references in this column to a task force established by the City’s Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee to study tree preservation.

At a recent meeting, the task force established a framework for its proposal. A broad consensus was reached that large-scale clear-cutting, without some form of prior City approval, should be prohibited.

Also, it was decided that the task force should be briefed about federal storm-water legislation, which begins applying to the City this fall. The group agrees the City’s efforts should be coordinated with federal requirements, since storm-water runoff, drainage and flood-plain issues are affected by the location of wooded areas remaining in the City.

Consensus has emerged that one way to preserve existing trees is to allow more flexibility in setback requirements, parking requirements, curvature of streets, types of paving and other City construction requirements.

For example, preservation of a large tree on a building site could be traded-off by the developer for several required parking spaces.

The task force also expects to examine landscape incentives and requirements for single-family developments, both existing and to-be-developed.

CHURCH PLAYGROUND SOUGHT: The Lakewood Assembly of God Church, Abrams and Vickery, has filed an application for a Specific Use Permit to construct a playground adjacent to the church’s parking lot.

Because the prospective playground lot is separately platted from the church lot, a Specific Use Permit is needed to add playground equipment.

The playground is planned for the south side of Vickery and will be screened from the adjoining lot by an eight-foot solid wood fence and extensive landscaping.

The request is scheduled for Plan Commission review July 8.

GREENVILLE ZONING CASES: For some reason, an unusual number of Board of Adjustment cases have been filed with the City for various Lower Greenville properties.

The Board scheduled hearings last month for a case at 3715 Greenville to allow parking on the tract.

And a case at 2100 Greenville asked for a variance to the front yard setback requirements. The applicant wanted to keep an existing patio cover, which extends to the property line at Prospect despite a 15-foot, front yard setback requirement.

Also, the Unity Church, 3425 Greenville, asked for a special exception to landscape regulations. Zoning affecting the church requires certain landscaping when the number of stories for the building increases. The church proposes to construct a two-story addition to the existing church and wants to provide an alternate landscape plan.

Finally, the Board was scheduled to hear a case regarding 1923 Greenville and requesting a special exception to off-street parking regulations. Apparently, a tenant space at that address has remained vacant longer than one year and, under the Modified Delta Overlay plan on Lower Greenville, that prevents the property from taking advantage of “Delta” parking credits in the future.

The applicant wants the Delta credits restored. This case apparently will be the second test of the Modified Delta Overlay in the area.

We’ll have an update next month.

SAMUELL-GRAND CLEANUP: A task force organized by six neighborhoods to improve the Samuell-Grand area continues to meet. Efforts are being made to involve representatives from the City, as well as area businesses and schools.

Among the issues being considered are how to expand the City’s financial incentives for businesses in the area, such as the Enterprise Zone program, as well as ways to control alcohol sales and improve code enforcement.

The group is meeting monthly at the Samuell-Grand Recreation Center on East Grand. If you live or work in the area and would like to attend, please call me at 871-2682 so that I can put you in touch with the group.

RECYCLING CENTER: A Specific Use Permit recently was sought to allow a recycling collections center on a tract zoned for Community Retail at the east corner of Henderson and Lewis. But the application later was withdrawn.

If the application resurfaces, we’ll keep you informed about its status and proposed use.

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