Development and traffic issues along Henderson from Central to Ross were discussed at last month’s first meeting of the recently appointed Henderson Avenue Urban Design Task Force.

The Task Force, which includes neighborhood and business representatives, will be looking at concerns about the right mix of uses for the area, how to preserve at least some of the residential areas along Henderson, and how to deal with likely increases in traffic.

“East Dallas residents Hector Garcia and Rob Richmond were appointed last month to serve as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the City Plan Commission…They deserve our congratulations.”

Redevelopment continues at the north end of Henderson, while on the south end of Henderson, site work has begun on the new DISD elementary school and the Fiesta retail center.

Meanwhile, not much has been heard lately about the proposed 180 apartment units at Willis and Richard. But the assumption is that the project, or something like it, is still in the works.

All of these projects will bring substantial change to Henderson Avenue, and the Task Force’s goal is to anticipate and manage that change.

Car Wash Regulations Proposed by City

Responding to concerns expressed by residents of East Dallas, Lake Highlands and other areas of the City, the planning staff has floated a proposal for somewhat stricter regulation of car wash locations.

Long-time readers of this column will recall discussion about the heated battle over a car wash next to the Munger Place Historic District and won’t be surprised to hear that car washes are perceived as a problem use in other neighborhoods, as well.

Among the general complaints about car washes are that they allegedly create noise and litter and sometimes attract criminal activity.

The new staff proposal, expected to be discussed at last month’s Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee, calls for car washes to be able to locate “by right” in community retail, regional retail, commercial service, industrial, mixed use or multiple commercial – also knows as 2, 3 or 4 zoning.

However, any car wash wishing to locate within 300 feet of a residential zoning district would have to obtain a Specific Use Permit. A car wash located in CR zoning would have to go through a Development Impact Review process, while those in the other categories and more than 300 feet from residential zoning would go through the Residential Adjacency Review process.

Also, the staff proposes that a car wash could only operate from 6 a.m. to midnight, must have adjacent lighting and must post “No Loitering” signs, presumably to give the police a stronger case against loiterers.

The key distinction between the SUP process, the Development Impact Review and the Residential Adjacency Review is that applying for an SUP requires public notice and public hearings before the Plan Commission and the City Council, just like a zoning change, thus giving nearby residents an opportunity to be heard.

The reviews are internal staff processes with no public notice or input. Another key distinction is that the proposal is based on proximity to a residential zoning district, not an existing residential use.

This means that if the car wash site is within 300 feet of land zoned for residential, but not yet developed, the car wash must still apply for an SUP. Since the proposal appears to have some support in the City Council, passage in some form appears to be a good possibility.

Junius Heights SUP Rejected by Council

After having been approved for a Specific Use Permit by the City Plan Commission several months ago, the City Council recently turned down the SUP application for a 55-unit apartment complex in Junius Heights.

You may recall that after an extremely bitter fight in Junius Heights, the City Council imposed an SUP requirement on all structures in the neighborhood with eight or more dwelling units, but gave them a one-year window for compliance.

The 55-unit complex, by far the largest in Junius Heights, was the only one to apply for an SUP in the given time frame. But because of neighborhood opposition and the complex being perceived as out-of-character for the area, the Council denied the application.

Presumably, one or more of the complex’s neighbors will file a termination case with the Board of Adjustment to have the complex amortized and a termination date set.

Mockingbird-Abrams Cellular Tower Considered

The City Plan Commission was expected to hear an application last month for an 85-foot cellular telephone tower at the shopping center on Mockingbird east of Abrams.

The application was needed to change the zoning of the shopping center’s Planned Development District to permit the tower. The planning staff, apparently feeling the proposed site was inappropriate, was recommending denial of the application.

In recent months, in part because of advancing technology, more effort was being made to locate cellular telephone towers on top of existing buildings to minimize perceived visual intrusiveness. As a result, it’s possible the applicant may seek another site in the area.

Townhouse Project Planned on Prospect

Word has reached the nearby neighborhoods that an applicant is about to request approval to build 19 townhouse units on the north side of Prospect between Greenville and Matilda.

The development, which would be a gated community, would be constructed on currently vacant land.

Discussions with neighbors appear to have begun on a positive note.

Garcia, Richmond Take Reins of Plan Commission

East Dallas residents Hector Garcia and Rob Richmond were appointed last month to serve as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the City Plan Commission.

The chair is appointed by the mayor, and the vice chair is appointed by the City Council.

Both Hector and Rob have done a great job of looking out for the interests of our neighborhood and the City as a whole.

They deserve our congratulations.