Aerial view of undeveloped site

The Dallas City Council recently gave unanimous approval to Highland Grove, a proposed single-family development at the intersection of Highland Road and Barbaree Boulevard.

Fifteen years ago, the 4.16-acre site was a mobile home park, which was a non-conforming use for the in-place single-family zoning. The Board of Adjustment voted to require the owner of the park to shutter and conform to the single-family zoning. The mobile home park closed shortly after the vote, and the site has been vacant since. Developer Jim Moore is buying the land from the same owner.

(Editor’s Note: The writer of this story, Sam Gillespie, served as a volunteer on the Board of Adjustment for several years and voted for the owner to conform to the single-family zoning.)

The site is bounded by Kansas City Southern Railroad to the north, Highland Road to the east, Ash Creek to the south and Tenison Highlands Golf Course to the west.

First heard at the Plan Commission in June, Moore proposed the site be rezoned from R-7.5A to a Planned Development District (PD) with 26 homes, four more homes than the current zoning would allow. Negotiations with neighboring homeowners resulted in a reduction to allow 23 homes.

Click here for a high-resolution image of the site plan

Aerial perspective of Highland Grove looking west

At the City Council’s recent public hearing, three neighbors from the adjacent Barbaree Boulevard spoke out against the rezone.

Rebecca Boatman has been a consistent voice of the opposition and spent her allotted three minutes lamenting the lack of response from Council members to her communications, questioning the removal trees in an urban forest and the plans to develop in a flood plain, as well as citing potential parking issues in nearby driveways and along the shared private drive serving the homes.

Developer Jim Moore took his turn at the hearing and made his case for a PD of 23 homes versus the current R7.5A zoning that allows 22 homes. A PD typically receives more scrutiny from the City in comparison to a conventional project in a straight R7.5A classification.

“The concessions negotiated with the Planning Commissioner regarding neighbor views, no gated entry, landscaping on Highland, new tree placement and brick fencing are all not required under the existing zoning,” Moore said during the hearing. “Under both the PD and R7.5A, the trees removed must be mitigated.”

The property is in Council member Paula Blackmon’s district. Once the public hearing closed, Blackmon made a motion to approve the project with a stipulation in the PD that the garage doors be set back 20 feet from the sidewalk to allow cars to be parked in driveways. She pointed out that Plan Commissioner Michael Jung had walked the site with the developer to identify trees to be saved.

During the hearing, Blackmon also asked members of the City staff to explain how tree mitigation and potential construction in a designated floodplain work. Blackmon knew the answers to those questions, but she wanted the Council and neighbors to hear the answers during the hearing.

After a short discussion that included supportive comments by Council members Jesse Moreno and Omar Narvaez, all Council members present voted in favor of the project.

Following the hearing, Boatman said she was disappointed in the outcome.

“I don’t feel like we had a democratic process,” Boatman said. “I sent packages and emails to all Plan Commission and City Council members and never received any opportunity for discussion of why we were against the PD.”

However, Boatman also said she “doesn’t feel like we lost. We got fewer homes, more parking and saved a 42-inch pecan tree.”

Moore hopes to start construction in the spring, with homes available in 2023. The homes will range in size from 2,000-4,000 square feet and are expected to be priced between $675,000-$1,000,000.

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