The Dallas Morning News - Friday, February 14, 1986
Author: The Dallas Morning News

A proposed ordinance to set up neighborhood conservation districts in Dallas drew favorable comments from neighborhood leaders Thursday, but the City Plan Commission postponed a vote on the proposal until next week.

Commission members complained that they received a draft of the proposal just hours before the meeting and did not have enough time to review several changes.

"I'm fully supportive of the concept of the districts and maybe the ordinance, but I haven't had time to read it,' commission member Buck Wynne said.

About a half-dozen neighborhood leaders said they wanted the chance to apply for the new designation, which would allow residents to set up guidelines for construction and remodeling of homes in their areas.

"It offers our inner-city neighborhoods and other parts of Dallas the best opportunities for protecting their quality of life, for maintaining the status quo and for protecting themselves against encroachment by incompatible development,' said Kathleen Magers, president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League .

Commission member Joe May continued to voice strong concerns that the proposed districts would drive out low-income renters.

May said he would offer "14 to 16 items' to include in the ordinance when it is reviewed Thursday.
The Dallas Morning News - Friday, February 21, 1986
Author: Sherry Jacobson: The Dallas Morning News

After weeks of arguing over a proposal that would prohibit incompatible development in established neighborhoods, the City Plan Commission voted 14-1 on Thursday to recommend approval of the conservation districts.

"I'm at a loss to explain this,' said commission member Cay Kolb, one of the districts' main supporters. "But it's a strong vote for neighborhood stability.'

The conservation districts are intended to protect unique older neighborhoods in the city by allowing residents to set guidelines for new development and restrictions for remodeling houses.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the districts at a public hearing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Commission member Joe May, one of the strongest critics of the conservation districts, said, "I held my nose and decided to vote for it.'

May said he realized that other Plan Commission members did not support his attempts to amend the ordinance to exempt low- and moderate-income residents.

"I could have created a bloodbath,' he said. "And I don't know if it would have been worth it.'

In opposing the districts, May had said they would increase property values in neighborhoods and force low-income renters to move.

"I hope the nightmare won't happen,' May said after the vote.

The conservation district proposal had been under attack since January, when the Plan Commission's Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee attempted to postpone consideration for six months while the city completed an unrelated low-income housing study.

Several committee members said developers wanted the ordinance killed.

But the City Council ordered the board to release the ordinance to the Plan Commission.

Plan Commission member George Grogan, who cast the lone opposing vote Thursday, said the districts are likely "to pit neighbor against neighbor.'

"I don't have a problem with the concept,' he said. "But I want to be sure that a majority of the neighborhood is in support of becoming a conservation district before the city does a feasibility study.'

Neighborhood leaders, who had spoken in favor of the ordinance, said they were pleased with the Plan Commission's recommendation.

"It's going to give neighborhoods the ability to keep out development that is incompatible,' said Kathleen Majers, president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League . "We won't have ultra-modern buildings next to old Victorian homes.'

Six neighborhoods have expressed an interest in becoming conservation districts, including Greenland Hills and Country Club Estates of East Dallas and Ruthmeade Place in Oak Cliff.

Neighborhoods that want to become conservation districts would need the written agreement of 50 percent of the property owners in order to file an application.

They also would have to prove that they have "architectural or cultural importance and significance' that the city should preserve, according to the proposed ordinance.

The Plan Commission and City Council would have to approve each district.