If you drive by the development at 4217 Swiss Ave., you might not know that legal battles are brewing behind the scenes. Construction is humming along, but the challenges have not abated. The most recent legal maneuver has the Peak’s Addition Homeowner’s Association suing a City of Dallas building official for not enforcing a stop-work order on the property.
The property’s future has been in flux for months. It all began when a development that was approved by the City of Dallas faced a legal challenge in court from the Peak’s Addition Homeowner’s Association (PAHA). The association alleged that the building violated the residential proximity slope (RPS), basically saying that it was too tall to be so close to their historic neighborhood.
A district court ruled that the 253-unit development did in fact violate the RPS. A stop work order was placed on the property last September. That decision was appealed, and the developer, Encore Enterprises, paid a supersedeas bond to allow construction to continue on the property while the appeal is in process. Encore continues to invest money into the property while its future is in doubt.
Earlier this year, a panel of the Board of Adjustment, whose job it is to interpret difficult zoning decisions, ruled that the Dallas building official should enforce a stop-work order on the building. However, the city say it won’t issue a stop-work order until a court makes a final decision on the matter.
Peak homeowners filed a writ of mandamus against City of Dallas building official Phil Sykes. This writ is an order from a court for a government official to fulfill their duties. For the development’s neighbors, his duty is to follow the Board of Adjustment’s ruling to stop construction on the property.
For the homeowner’s, this case embodies the purpose of the Board of Adjustment. “The whole point is to have an internal mechanism to challenge when the city is doing something wrong,” says PAHA counsel Michael Northrup. “The Board of Adjustment ruled one way and the city said we are not going to do it.”
The Advocate reached out to the City of Dallas and the developer last week. This story will be updated after and their response. The original case number is DC-17-02532, and the latest suit is DC-18-0672.
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