Dallas City Council To Take Up Forest Lane Rezoning Request

The Dallas City Council will discuss a rezoning request for a long-dormant stretch of Forest Lane east of the Dallas North Tollway when it meets Thursday.

Forest Park Development is requesting a zoning change so it can build 26 single-family residences that are roughly 2,800 –3,100 square feet in size and have a price tag in the $1 million range, in a gated community with access at Nuestra, Quincy, and Forest Lane.

The site has been dormant for more than a decade. First, an empty church sat on the Forest Lane lot for years after its occupants moved to Plano in 2010. Then the city of Dallas paid more than $3 million (counting $2.6 million for the land) for it as part of a bond package that would’ve included a new library to replace the aging Preston-Royal branch, but the city ran out of money.

In 2018, a proposal for a dog park was shot down by neighbors.

Thursday, the council will weigh both the city plan commission and the city staff recommendations, as well as what was gleaned from an August public hearing.

(Read: Preston Royal Library Friends: Vote Yes To Rezone)

The CPC is recommending that the council approve the request, subject to some revisions and conditions. City staff, however, is recommending the council deny the request because the proposed development is inconsistent with existing land use.

“The applicant has proposed a shared access development that proposes lot sizes that are only about 29% of the lot size requirements of the existing R-16(A) Single Family District for the site and the adjacent properties,” city staff notes. “R-16(A) lot size requirement is 16,000 square feet, while the applicant proposes to develop lots that are minimum 4,600 square feet. Since the site is surrounded by single-family homes with a minimum 16,000 sq. ft lots, Staff does not believe this request is compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.”

At the heart of the issue is the matter of the library — without the rezoning, the sale of the lot will likely not happen. Without the sale, the Preston Royal Branch of the Dallas Public Library cannot be improved and expanded.

Neighboring Melshire Estates residents have voiced their opposition to the matter. In a letter to District 13 councilmember Gay Donnell Willis, the Melshire Estates Home Owners Association board and its president, Linda Vallala explained that they had been receiving an “outpouring of communication” from residents there.

“The vast majority of the residents who have contacted me oppose the rezoning application,” Vallala wrote. “Some of the neighbors are still very disappointed in the City’s failure to fund the construction of a new library on the site while many others believe that the developer is asking for approval to construct far too many homes on the site.”

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting must register to do so by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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