Homes on Lakewood Boulevard in the proposed expansion area. Photo by Renee Umsted.

The agenda for last night’s Lakewood Conservation District expansion meeting was supposed to include discussions about driveways, front yard coverage, uses and parking. But in an hour and a half, the only topic neighbors debated was driveways.

And by the end of the meeting, a clear consensus hadn’t been reached.

This was the first post-application meeting for neighbors in the expansion area, which is adjacent to the existing Lakewood Conservation District, established in the 1980s.

Though this is considered an expansion of the existing conservation district, residents in the expansion area will be able to decide whether they want to adopt selections of their neighbors’ ordinance or adjust it to regulate architectural and developmental standards differently.

Neighbors filled the meeting room at Samuell-Grand Recreation Center on Aug. 31 to learn how the rest of the process will go and begin discussing which features of their neighborhood should be conserved.

The Department of Planning and Urban Design at the City of Dallas initially scheduled 12 of these post-application meetings, with the final three acting as a kind of placeholder, just in case additional meetings are needed. If the rest of the meetings go the way last night’s did, it’s safe to say all 12 will be needed, and probably more.

After Trevor Brown, a chief planner with the City of Dallas, gave a recap of what’s happened in the conservation district expansion process so far and explained what’s to come, neighbors jumped right in to a discussion of the first set of developmental standards to regulate.

First up was driveways and curbing. Brown showed what the existing Lakewood CD ordinance says about this feature:

“(1) All driveways and curbing located between a main structure and the front or corner side lot line must be constructed of a permanent outdoor paving material such as concrete, interlocking concrete paving block, or brick and stone pavers. Loose aggregate pavement such as gravel and bark mulch are not permitted in this area. (2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), driveways are limited to one curb cut per lot and may not exceed 24 feet in width. (3) Two curb cuts are permitted on lots with main structures facing Abrams Road or Gaston Avenue.”

Then he asked what neighbors thought about it.

Based on what meeting attendees said, asphalt should not be used as a driveway material, but concrete, pavers and stone would be appropriate. Gravel could be an option, as long as there are conditions attached to it. One person asked if there’s a supply shortage of concrete, or if prices skyrocket, and a driveway needs to be replaced, could asphalt be used if it looks like concrete or some other approved material. The answer is no, Brown said. No asphalt means no asphalt.

Another person said the driveway materials should be appropriate to the time period and style of each home.

Many neighbors also said they thought 24 feet was too wide for a driveway, but 10-12 feet is OK.

Mixed opinions were shared about driveway type. Many were against ribbon driveways, but a few people liked the permeable surfaces that a ribbon driveway would provide. Circular driveways could be allowed, neighbors said, but consideration could be determined by lot size; for example, a circular driveway may be welcomed for neighbors who have narrow lots. Then there’s the question of what happens when a driveway is replaced. If it’s circular, could it be rebuilt as a circular lot, or would it have to be straight?

A few people didn’t agree with the existing conservation district’s prohibition of more than one curb cut.

Throughout the meeting, neighbors asked about specific considerations for their property, though Brown kept trying to gear the conversation toward what should be conserved for the neighborhood as a whole.

The next meeting is Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. at Samuell-Grand Recreation Center. It will start with a recap of the driveway discussion to give everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts, and then neighbors will start talking about front yard coverage, uses and parking, before moving on to density, lot size, lot coverage, building height and stories, floor area ratio, drainage and slope.

More information about the conservation district expansion is available here.

If you missed the meeting and you’d like to share your opinions on driveways with the City, email trevor.brown@dallas.gov. Include your address in the subject line.