Standard Shoreline. Rendering courtesy of Ojala Holdings.

The Garland Road Vision Task Force is split evenly on whether to recommend approval or denial of a rezone at the Shoreline City Church site.

The 12-member task force, an ad-hoc committee formed to review the 300-unit apartment project at Shoreline City Church on Garland Road, sent a letter to members of the City Plan Commission and Dallas City Council with observations about developer Ojala Holding’s plan. With five members voting to approve and five voting to deny the rezone, the task force made no recommendation either way.

The Garland Road Vision (GRV) Plan was adopted by the City in 2011. It has served as roadmap/wish list/planning tool for the stretch of Garland Road from I-635 to the Gaston/Garland/Grand (3G) intersection.

“From its inception, the GRV was created by a representative advisory board and it was always intended that the process of enforcing the precepts of the GRV would continue through representatives of the immediate areas to be impacted by prospective development, in addition to a core group of individuals involved in GRV from the beginning,” Gerald Worrall, interim chair of the GRV, wrote in a cover letter.

Neighborhood groups and community organizations that could contribute to the task force were initially suggested by District 9 Council Member Paula Blackmon, whose district includes the Shoreline site. The final composition included several of the original advisory board members, plus individuals from surrounding stakeholder neighborhoods and entities.

  • Brad Boling: Alger Park Ash Creek NA
  • Kirk Dooley: Lake Park Estates
  • Greg Estell: Old Lake Highlands
  • Gary Griffith: Founder of the Garland Road Vision (GRV advisory board)
  • Christian Nilsson: Lochwood
  • Mike Nurre: Casa View Alliance
  • Brenda Catlett: Peninsula
  • Jeff Snoyer: Monopoly Place
  • Gloria Tarpley: (GRV advisory board)
  • Debbie Van Zandt: Casa Linda Estates
  • Darrell Wood: Eastwood
  • Gerald Worrall: Interim chairman (GRV advisory board)

The letter to the Plan Commission and City Council did not detail how members voted, only that there were five votes both ways. Two members of the task force did not participate in the voting.

The task force identified eight characteristics of Ojala’s plan that were “compatible” with the GRV, including continuous sidewalks, an art pocket park, street trees, buried utilities, green building standards and limiting parking garage exposure.

Building height was the single characteristic deemed “non-compatible” with the GRV. The GRV suggests a maximum height of 36 feet, or three stories. But Ojala’s plan shows 60 feet in height and four stories. The building height has been the big bugaboo for adjacent neighborhoods in opposition to the project since Ojala introduced its proposal.

“The Lochwood Neighborhood Association (LNA) thanks the GRV Steering Committee for organizing and for everyone that participated on the task force,” said Scott Robson, longtime president of the LNA. “We are very happy with the non-recommendation, having stated and believed from the outset that the task force should only be assessing the proposed rezoning based on what is and what is not compliant with the GRV Study; then enable the public and City to incorporate that in their thought and decision process.”

Robson and the LNA also pointed out other aspects of the project they say are non-compliant, including protecting existing residential areas, retaining and re-using existing buildings, and the location for a mixed-use project.

Ojala’s Daniel Smith weighed in.

“We are encouraged to learn that the Garland Road Vision Task Force Memorandum concludes that The Standard Shoreline is compatible with eight of the nine categories that were reviewed,” he said. “The single incompatibility is associated with height, and we have a prepared a comprehensive design strategy that protects the privacy of the adjacent single-family homes from any form of visual intrusion by compliance with City’s residential proximity slope requirements and incorporating several visual buffers including two-story townhomes, 9-foot privacy fencing and an enhanced landscape buffer.”

Worrall noted that the Garland Road Vision Plan is not written to be a code or ordinance, and has been used as a tool by both  supporters and opposition to back up their positions.

Task forces were previously formed to review rezone proposals for Casa View Court — where Garland Thrift Store was located — and Mill Creek’s Trailhead project at the 3G intersection. In those cases, the GRV voted unanimously in support of the developments.

The debate over the Shoreline project will continue this Thursday, Sept. 8, when Ojala hosts another neighborhood meeting at 6 p.m. at the Harry Stone Recreation Center (2403 Millmar). All interested citizens are invited.

At their regularly scheduled Thursday, Sept. 15 meeting, the Dallas City Plan Commission will hold a public hearing. Unless a motion is made and passed to postpone a decision, the commissioners will vote on the project. As often happens, they will give strong consideration to the opinion of the Plan Commission member where the project is located. All eyes and ears will be on  Michael Jung, Blackmon’s District 9 appointee to the Plan Commission.

After a Plan Commission vote, the rezone request will proceed to the City Council for final determination. No date has been set for the City Council review.