La Bajada residents now have this bit of certainty: There wonât be any big changes coming their way any time soon.
The City Council saw to that on Wednesday, approving a zoning change the limits the height of residential buildings in the West Dallas neighborhood to 27 feet.
La Bajada residents petitioned the city to impose the restriction. They wanted to preserve the character of their neighborhood of single-family homes, nestled there near a development draw: The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
And after weeks of dispute over a boundary of the restriction zone, both sides in the conflict reached a compromise of sorts Wednesday brokered in part by council members.
While the petitioners got their height limits, the council agreed to move the boundary one block north, from Toronto Street to Pueblo Street, freeing property owned by West Dallas Investments for development.
The group says it wants the property developed with retail shops, a three-story apartment building and a four-level parking garage, all serving as a transition area bordering La Bajada. It has requested a rezoning that would allow such uses.
The groupâs principles â" Stuart Fitts, Larry âButchâ McGregor and restaurateur Phil Romano â" own more than 60 acres west of the Trinity River, including land and buildings south of La Bajada, where it plans to create a food, shopping and entertainment center called Trinity Groves.
If it didnât get the boundary moved, the group would end its play in West Dallas, Romano said on Tuesday. Not now.
âWeâre happy. This is what we wanted,â said Jim Reynolds, construction manager for West Dallas Investments. âWeâre supportiveâ of the neighborhood protection. âWe just want to develop our lots.â
Petition leaders â" Eva Elvove, Frank DeLeon and Felix Lozada â" had opposed the boundary change, saying West Dallas Investments had not provided assurances and concrete plans for the property.
But Elvove said they accepted the move, after talking with Mayor Mike Rawlings, council member Sandy Greyson and others, and receiving a commitment from West Dallas Investments to develop the property as proposed.
âWe have witnesses,â she said. âAnd we have the guarantee of the mayor that theyâll do what they say theyâll do.â
Said Lozada: âI thought we could have done better, but this is the best we could come up with.â
Greyson took the council lead on behalf of Monica Alonzo, who lives in La Bajada and couldnât participate in the case.
âThis is as much about trust and respect as it is about zoning,â she said after announcing the compromise.
In conclusion, Rawlings praised both sides.
âThis compromise will make for a stronger La Bajada, and we will be able to implement the great vision that West Dallas Investments has.â
With the approval Wednesday, La Bajada residents can still sell, enlarge or renovate their homes as long as they keep within the height limits. And property owners could petition the city to remove the restrictions in all or part of the neighborhood.
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