Much of Old East Dallas is in transition, but some neighbors are doing their best to make sure that development doesn’t conflict with the character of the neighborhood and, more importantly, doesn’t break city code.
The Peak’s Addition Homeowner’s Association (PAHA) took on the City of Dallas in court this year over a development at 4217 Swiss Ave., and they won. There is still much to be decided, but the neighborhood stuck up for the Dallas’ Planned Development District nuances when seemingly the city did not.
Michael Northrup, who represented PAHA, said that the neighborhood met with City Councilman Adam Medrano and building representatives from the city to point out that plans for the Encore Enterprise’s five-story mixed-use development at Peak and Swiss would violate PDD 298’s residential property slope (RPS). PAHA created a website to explain the details of their dispute, but it basically means that the building is too tall and too close to the street. Neighbors worried that it would loom over a historic home on Swiss Avenue, and wanted the tallest parts of the development pushed back from the street.
Despite these concerns, the city gave Encore the permits to begin construction. The developer and the city agreed that RPS did not apply in this situation, but PAHA didn’t back down. After consulting an attorney, the neighborhood took the city to court, challenging the building officials’ interpretation of the development code and arguing that there was an RPS conflict, meaning the building was too tall and too close to the street.
The city’s Board of Adjustment upheld the building officials’ interpretation, but a district court sided with PAHA and reversed the decision of the Board of Adjustment, invalidating the permit that permitted the height of the building. On Sept. 18, the city put a stop work order on the property, but questions remain as to how the city and developer will move forward.
The city and the developer have 30 days to appeal the decision, or the developer could change the design of the development. Neighbors are waiting to see what happens next.
“We don’t know the status of the appeal. Can the city move forward? Will someone appeal or rework?” Northrup says. “The one thing we know from everything is that this permit has been invalidated.”
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