The hottest current neighborhood zoning controversy is the Gaston Bazaar’s application for a specific use permit for inside commercial amusement. The applicant wants to use space within the Bazaar as a private dance hall.

The Gastonwood-Coronado Hills, Forest Hills and Lakewood neighborhoods oppose granting the permit because of concerns about parking, traffic, noise, litter and other similar problems, which the neighborhood organizations believe are widespread in the area due to other bars and clubs. The Gaston Bazaar is next to Cowboys dance club on the north side of Gaston at East Grand.

The Gaston Bazaar’s operator, who is applying for the permit, has accused the neighborhoods of racial discrimination. He says that because most of his customers are Hispanic, the neighborhoods are discriminating against Hispanics by opposing the application. Neighborhood representatives deny this allegation.

But the issue doesn’t end there.

The applicant and his attorney have brought the U.S. Justice Department into the fray, and they have garnered the support of various elected officials and political activists. They also have staged press conferences and a demonstration at City Hall.

The Plan Commission approved a two-year permit on July 13. The issue ultimately will be determined by the City Council, which has not scheduled a date for action.

GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: On Aug. 12, the Bryan Place Neighborhood Association met with a representative from Centex Development, which owns some of the property surrounding Bryan Place. They discussed the possibility of down-zoning some of the multi-family zoning bringing Bryan Place to single-family.

The Centex representative said the company is willing to discuss the request.

The process is in the early stages, but the neighborhood appears to be serious about increasing the amount of single-family zoning in the area. Of course, there are other commercial property owners in the area besides Centex that would be affected by such a change and will want to be part of the process.

FOR SALE: No progress has been made with the old Greenville Avenue Christian Church site at Greenville and Llano. A “for sale” sign is on the property, which indicates the owners may have lost interest in developing the site.

Since the property is zoned for single-family development, a purchaser could decide to live with that zoning and attempt to sell single-family lots or houses, or could decide to take another run at a zoning change.

SOME FINE TUNING: The City Plan Commission voted to change the conditions for the Dr Pepper Building historic overlay district to allow signs attached to the building. The Plan Commission also passed a replat of the property, which appears to plat the building separately from the remainder of the tract. This makes it easier for an owner to keep one parcel and sell the other in the future.

INSIDE ROOSTERS ONLY: On Aug. 9, the Council voted to prohibit keeping certain types of livestock on residential lots. The approved ordinance prohibits keeping certain fowl on residentially zoned properties of less than one acre unless the fowl are primarily kept inside. Passage of this ordinance appears to be a response to citizen complaints about crowing roosters.

GETTING A HANDLE: The Council is considering additional regulations for private clubs selling alcohol. The state recently enacted legislation that allows the City to require a specific use permit for any private club deriving 75 percent or more of its gross revenue from alcohol sales. The new measure, which received support from neighborhood groups and is expected to be approved by the Council, is seen as a way to get a handle on problem private clubs in dry areas. Oak Cliff neighborhoods were especially supportive, but the ordinance also supplies to any portion of the City in dry territory.

A REQUESTED TUNE UP: The Council recently directed the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee and City staff to reexamine zoning for car washes. Long-time readers of this column know that, from time to time, car washes near residential neighborhoods are sometimes seen as the source of various types of problems in neighborhoods.

TRYING TO CONFORM: On Aug. 24, the City Plan Commission was expected to consider a planned development for multi-family, and possibly retail uses, at the northeast corner of Ferguson and Lakeland. The purpose of the application is to make an existing apartment complex conforming. The applicant was considering possible redevelopment with retail, but during the course of negotiations with nearby neighborhoods, this plan may have gone by the wayside. Once the Plan Commission makes its decision, the Council should consider the matter within a few weeks. At press time, there was still substantial neighborhood opposition, but the parties were talking.

DENIED: The proposed amendment of Sub-area II of Planned Development District 362, at 4814-4832 Gaston southwest of Fitzhugh, recently was denied by the City Plan Commission. However, the applicant filed an appeal Aug. 7, and the case is scheduled to be heard by the Council Sept. 13. There was substantial neighborhood opposition to the application, which would have allowed additional retail uses in the Sub-area. The amendment would have permitted several non-conforming uses, including a convenience store and a couple of bars, to remain. It is likely the Council will support the neighborhoods in denying the re-zoning request, although there are always complicating factors.

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