May 12, 2008

From the desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

As a continuation of my previous article on the basics of zoning, this article will review the current zoning in House District 107.

A Closer Look

District 107 is largely made up of single family residential neighborhoods. The area also includes commercial zoning and some multi-family apartment dwellings, both of which tend to be located along the major thoroughfares.

Our area of the city is growing quickly, and as a result, many people wish to preserve the look and feel of their neighborhoods. This has led many to attempt to create either a neighborhood stabilization overlay or a conservation district overlay. In fact, since the creation of NSOs, half of the applications submitted have been inside the boundaries of District 107.

Neighborhood Stabilization Overlays

Although the process for obtaining an NSO does not take as long as a conservation district, it is still a very involved process that requires research and organization.

Several neighborhoods in District 107 have applied for NSOs since the process was introduced in 2005. A map with “areas of interest” for the Northeast area of the city ( and a list of NSOs with status information ( can be viewed on the City of Dallas website.

A recent example of an NSO that was approved covers the Casa Linda Estates neighborhood ( Originally, over 400 homes were slated to be part of this NSO; however, the total number of households supporting the NSO was low in certain areas of the project, so the City Plan Commission only approved 170 homes for the NSO. The other areas were denied without prejudice, meaning interested parties may again attempt to obtain the NSO at any time.

Maplewood, a smaller subsection of the White Rock Neighborhood Association, recently applied for an NSO which the Plan Commission unanimously approved. However, the City Council denied the application citing that a majority of the neighborhood did not approve of the NSO. To approve a request, the council prefers to see a greater number of households in agreement than required. The purpose of the NSO is definitely not to cause turmoil in the neighborhoods. Hopefully compromise may be reached in future attempts.

The areas of University Terrace and Dalewood-Westbrook are currently attempting to create an NSO as well. These neighborhoods are located north of Mockingbird Lane, south of Northwest Highway, and just west of White Rock Lake.

Both the Wilshire Heights and Gastonwood/Coronado Hills neighborhoods started the process for an NSO, but neither completed the process and these applications have expired. If these neighborhoods again seek an NSO, they will be required to begin the process anew.

Both of these neighborhoods comprise larger areas. Yet, applying for an NSO only requires a minimum of 50 single family structures in a compact and contiguous area. Vanderbilt/Marquita, an area made up of approximately 60 homes, created an NSO in August of 2007. It includes houses that face Sondra Drive, Marquita Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue between Abrams Road and Hillbrook Street.

Conservation Districts

Probably the best known conservation district in District 107 is the Hollywood Santa Monica Neighborhood (, which was granted conservation status in 1989. This area is comprised of a majority of single family homes built in the Tudor style. This neighborhood is nestled south of La Vista Drive and west of East Grand Avenue and recently finished their annual home tour. The conservation district also includes an area located in the northern part of the neighborhood zoned for multi-family dwellings.

A lesser known conservation district in our area, found on Prospect Street between Skillman and Alderson, is known as Edgemont Park. This conservation district was approved in May of 2006. This is a great example of how the overlay process is not just limited to large neighborhood groups. A single street can choose to create an overlay as well.

District 107’s oldest conservation district is a small portion of Lakewood, which is generally located north of the Lakewood Country Club, east of Abrams Road, south of Westlake Avenue and west of Brendenwood Drive. This area was approved for an overlay in 1988, when conservation districts were first established in Dallas.

Lakewood North, a small area just southeast of Abrams and Mockingbird, has applied for conservation district status and is currently going through the process.

Little Forest Hills is also currently working with the city staff to produce a conservation district overlay. These neighbors, inspired by their motto “Keep Little Forest Hills Funky,” have been working on an overlay for several years and are a prime example of just how lengthy this process can be. However, if their efforts are successful, they will have created an area that will maintain its character for years to come.

The area of Forest Hills has a Planned Development District in place, which is somewhat unusual in our part of the city. This designation was used before overlay districts were created and allows the neighborhood to set conditions in a given property area. It was put in place before the other tools were available.

In The Works

I am sure everyone remembers the twenty-five story building that was being planned for Emerald Isle. As you may know, that effort was defeated. A new developer recently went before the City Plan Commission with a request to create 41 townhomes on that location that would be 36 feet high.

You may also remember the Ash Creek Mobile Homes that were located just off of Highland Road near Forest Hills. That area was re-zoned after a major struggle and was recently approved for townhomes. There is also a new filing to create townhomes at the Lake Highlands and Easton intersection.

The eastern and northeastern portions of District 107 face commercial and mixed use development plans. In the next article in the zoning series, I will review that activity.