It was like an un-festive Christmas at Dallas City Hall this afternoon when neighbors showed up in droves to the board of adjustment meeting to discuss the future of the Aldredge House on Swiss Avenue.
People there to support the Aldredge House were decked out in all shades of green, while folks representing the neighborhood sported red stickers that said, “Protect neighborhoods.”
The stage was set, and thus the drama unfolded — for three hours.
(Not sure what we’re talking about? Read our story that ran in this month’s magazine, “Swiss Avenue’s Aldredge House: Public asset or public nuisance?”)
Attorney Chris Hamilton spoke first in defense of the neighborhood, arguing that the activity at the Aldredge House — rowdy weddings, birthday parties, etc. — has “an adverse effect on nearby properties.”
“There are large amounts of people, large amounts of alcohol being served and parties going late into the night,” he says.
He played video clips as examples of times (some as recent as this month) when the noise levels were “completely incompatible with residential zoning.” He also showed pictures from the Aldredge House Facebook page, which depicted singers and other band members with amplifiers in the background.
“One of the complaints the neighbors continue to have is that when the backdoor is open, the amplification — as you’ll hear in later videos — spills out into the neighborhood late into the night,” he says.
And this goes on multiple times a week. “There were three weddings just this past weekend,” he points out.
Former councilwoman Angela Hunt kicked off her presentation in support of the Aldredge House with a statement about how “it is simply not the case” that the Dallas County Medical Society Auxiliary, the group that owns the Aldredge House, would not agree to certain terms presented by the neighbors.
“It is the foundation that applied for a zoning change that would provide protection [for the neighborhood],” she says. “We are amending the PD [planned development district] in response to Mr. Hamilton’s points, to reduce the number of events from 64 events, as you saw, down to 20.”
Hunt also pointed out that the contract with the catering company that was previously operating the events at the Aldredge House has been terminated.
She painted a brief summary of the history of the Aldredge House, pointing out that when the Aldredge House began hosting events 40 years ago “Swiss Avenue was not the Swiss Avenue that we know today. Swiss Avenue was in disrepair. It was in decline,” she says. The house has played a significant role in making the neighborhood what it is today.
Finally the board of adjustments made a call, ruling to “deny the applicants request for expedited compliance” because “based on the evidence of testimony presented at the public hearing” the board of adjustments determined “continued operation of this nonconforming use will not have an adverse effect on the nearby properties.”
However, the ruling also came with a warning. Several board members spoke up to say they believe the nearby neighbors have “suffered a lot” from late-night noise, leftover trash, heavy traffic and even threats.
The reason they ruled in favor of the Aldredge House, they explained, is because the board of adjustments is “quasi-judicial and not a political body.” Therefore, they determined, the board of adjustments is “not the best forum” for this situation. Rather the city plan commission should settle this matter through a PD.
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