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Form-Based Zoning

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Gehrig SaldaƱa
Stan Aten


7/21/8  --- Neil Emmons intends to screw it up.

Neil Emmons will go off the Plan Commission in September.  I wish Councilwoman Angela Hunt were removing him for all the wrong he has done to so many, but he's going off because he is term limited out.  Thank God for term limits!  (Unfortunately, today I was advised  Emmons may continue to wreck havoc on this city until May of 2009, rather than September of 2008.)

You may have heard something about "form-based zoning".  Rudy Bush mentions it on Dallas City Hall Blog (, 7/17/8): 
Another boring zoning meeting that could change the face of Dallas.  Only it's not boring, and it's only gotten complicated and confusing since Neil Emmons and his clique started playing their usual power games.

When I try to explain Emmons to people who don't know him, they always assume he's on the take.  When I explain that he values power more than money, they still assume he's on the take.  I don't think so.  He's just a weirdo who gets his jollies intimidating people and causing mayhem.

The City spent $300,000 on consultants (experts) and another $200,000 in Plan Department staff (experts) time to develop a recommendation for implementing "Forward Dallas!" by amending Development Code Ch. 51A - Article XIII Form Districts.  Neil Emmons and another meddling Commissioner (Bob Weiss of District 9) and their clique of control freaks didn't like the plan the experts developed.

You probably are familiar with Mockingbird Station.  That's sort of what you get with form-based zoning without all the rezoning machinations.  It's a dense, multi-use development where you can "
Embrace the metropolitan life in one of the vintage lofts or make the contemporary office tower your business address. Experience urban charm day or night whether you come to live, to work, catch a flick or grab a bite? it all starts at the Station."  (from 

The plan that Emmons and his meddling clique pushed through the Plan Commission would require 40 acres to do a form-based project.  That is so ridiculous it must have been their plan to prohibit form-based zoning in Dallas.  Have you seen the development Plano has done around their DART station?  It's pretty big and very successful.  Do you know how big it is?  That would be 3 acres.

Form-based zoning is an urban land use.  It would not be appropriate in an undeveloped area.  It's the kind of development you want around a DART station.  I guarantee you there are few if any planned DART stations that have 40 acres of land around them ready for development.

Here's another instance where the City Council is having to fix a problem that only exists because of Neil Emmons' meddling with Bob Weiss, his partner in chaos.  Once again, Emmons has put Councilwoman Hunt in the very awkward position of having to undo her appointee's screw-up.

I heard rumors about some strange comments by Emmons at the April 14th Plan Commission briefing to a city employee.  Emmons congratulated the staff person on his promotion and reminded him that he was no longer protected by civil service.  He tried to force the staffer to commit to supporting Emmons' recommended standards for form-based zoning, rather than continuing to push the plan recommended by staff (experts) and the high-paid consultants (experts).  The staffer refused to make such a commitment. 

City staff do not answer to plan commissioners.  City staff are supposed to give the council their best advice.   Council members are not bound by CPC decisions, but they should not be denied hearing staff's recommendations because some power-mad plan commissioner tries to intimidate a paid professional.

It is not the first time that Emmons has coerced an applicant into taking his deal or risk Emmons denying the case with prejudice.  Such a nice guy!

Hopefully, Councilman Natinsky and his committee will finish their review of the matter and recommend that council follow the advice of the experts on form-based zoning and reverse the CPC decision which was pushed through by Emmons and Weiss.

If the 40-acre requirement remains in place, there will be no development along Lancaster or near any of the new DART stations planned for opening in December, 2010.  Doesn't bode well for revitalizing the Southern Sector or other older urban areas of the city.

That would be a bad thing.






  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8