Neighborhood, business owner at odds over zoning request

The Gastonwood-Coronado neighborhood, south of Gaston and west of East Grand, is embroiled in a controversy with the operator of the Gaston Bazaar flea market.

The operator of the flea market applied for a Specific Use Permit for a “commercial indoor amusement” use to operate private party rooms with dancing on Saturday nights. The rooms are located inside the Gaston Bazaar building.

The hitch is that the surrounding neighborhoods, including Lakewood and Forest Hills, are of the opinion that there are already far too many uses in the area which serve alcohol and are the sources of numerous parking, traffic, litter and crime problems. The neighborhoods believe one more use of the same nature, even is operated on a limited basis, could exacerbate already-severe problems.

Despite the neighborhood opposition, the Plan Commission voted 11 to 4 to grant the permit for a two-year period. Several factors are complicating the situation still further, including allegations that the neighborhood opposition is racially motivated because most of the clients of the Gaston Bazaar are Hispanic. There is also an ongoing controversy between the owners of the Gaston Bazaar and Cowboys next door over parking and other issues. And the owner of the Gaston Bazaar property is in litigation not only with Cowboys but with the City of Dallas.

A recent attempt by the Gaston Bazaar owner to replat the site into a separate lot failed at the Plan Commission when it became apparent that it would have contradicted an earlier Board of Adjustment ruling and jeopardized the City’s defense in the lawsuit. City Council action on the permit is expected later in the summer.

APARTMENT DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: More information has become available on the proposed 180-unit apartment development along the 5100 blocks of Willis and Richard, just off Henderson in the Vickery Place neighborhood.

Representatives of the developer say that about 90 percent of the land is either closed or under contract and that construction may begin as early as 1996. The proposed apartments have the required multi-family zoning, although City Council approval is needed to close Willis and Richard streets in the 5100 block.

However, at a meeting with the Vickery Place neighborhood, a number of area residents expressed misgivings about traffic and parking issues, as well as concern about potential over-building of apartments in the area.

On June 28, the City Council approved money for a traffic study for the area bounded by Mockingbird, Greenville, Ross, Henderson and Central. Part of the study includes a moratorium on street closings and abandonments in the traffic study area until Oct. 31, 1995.

However, the traffic study was predicated on the idea that State Highway Department funds would be available to help build a sound wall on the Central Expressway side of Vickery Place and Greenland Hills. The state is now saying that no money is available, which throws the whole traffic study into question and may have an impact on the street closing moratorium.

Some neighborhood residents want to work with the developer, while others appear resistant. Since the zoning is in place, and the developer’s representatives say the project could be done without the street closings, or the land could be sold to another developer, the only sure way to prevent the development would be a down-zoning of the area to single family, a prospect that would be politically and legally difficult. Developments in this story will be reported as they occur.

ROOSTERS AND PIGS CAN STAY: The Plan Commission turned down proposed ordinance changes that would have prohibited keeping various types of livestock on lots of less than three acres in size. The proposal was originally developed by the City Council due to citizen complaints about crowing roosters.

There was heavy lobbying from Preston Hollow horse owners, the Texas Potbellied Pig Association and others. Evidence was presented to show that the majority of animal control complaints concern barking dogs.

The commission decided, as did the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee, that the noise, health and nuisance regulations in place are sufficient to deal with these types of animal control problems. The staff recommendation, along with the Plan Commission recommendation that no changes be made, is scheduled to be considered by the City Council Aug. 9.

A ZONING ROUNDUP: The application to put a cellular phone tower at the corner of Greenville Avenue and Bryan Parkway was withdrawn to give the applicant time to look for a better site in the area, perhaps on top of a church or another tall structure.

On July 27, the Plan Commission was to consider amending Sub-area II of Planned Development District 362, specifically the properties located at 4814 through 4832 Gaston Avenue. These properties consist of several small convenience stores, bars and liquor stores that are nonconforming under the district’s regulations. There is a pending termination case on the property at the Board of Adjustment, and if the zoning change is not granted the Board of Adjustment will set a termination date.

On Aug. 31, the Plan Commission will consider the proposed amendments to Plan Development District 99, along Gaston Avenue from Fitzhugh to LaVista.

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