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February 18, 2008


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Trey Randal

That someone had the gall to push Ms. Hughes-Babb from the room is deplorable and embarrassing. Nobody should have to tolerate or endure that kind of behavior. I was at the meeting last night. Although I did not witness the encounter Ms. Hughes-Babb described, I did see neighbors who are angered by our elected city councilman’s announcement that he does not support us in our efforts to protect our neighborhood.

Are people hot over this issue? You bet. And Ms. Hughes-Babb hit part of it square on the head with her following quotes:

“He’s going to give them 90 days to find another developer who wants the property… If no one makes a serious offer to buy the land during that time, Allen will move for rezoning approval for the Perlman project… So he’s basically saying – make it happen.”

That means he’s putting the onus back on the neighbors to make this happen. And who can even make a serious offer in 90 days? Is that even realistic? We’ve been given a 3-month window to find a residential developer that can come up with a business plan, get financing together and approved, etc. And anyone who is going to do that will likely also need to do land studies/surveys, figure out exactly what to build and how, and a whole host of other things. All this in 3 months? It doesn’t take a genius to determine that seems like an awfully short span of time to do what it would take for a residential developer to acquire this property.

But there’s more. At the end of this unlikely process, Jerry Allen will add insult to injury by voting at City Council in support of Jonathan Perlman’s zoning change and retirement apartments rather than supporting the scads of residents who have united in opposition against allowing Mr. Perlman to plant his multi-story investor-owned business in our neighborhood directly adjacent to people’s homes. It’s ludicrous!

Don’t get me wrong. I think Mr. Perlman is a nice guy but his facility belongs somewhere else on some other property where the zoning allows it. And for the record, I think Jerry Allen is a nice guy too. I even spent time with him in his office to listen to his views and toss around some ideas. But it is obvious he’s made up his mind what he wants to happen as the final outcome on this issue and I don’t feel like my elected representative is representing me or my neighbors at all. Neither did Tom Lueder at the City Planning Commission hearing a couple of weeks ago when he voted against a clear majority—many from his own neighborhood—who are in opposition of this re-zoning.

What is going on here? Where is the leadership? Why this needless division in our community? These are questions to consider as the undercurrents attached to this thing get deeper and uglier.

Lots of us keep hearing that there are other groups in Lake Highlands who are in support of the re-zoning and the building of these retirement apartments at Church/Skillman. But who are these groups? Nobody can seem to tell me. Why aren’t they at the same meetings I’ve been attending? I’ve seen a couple of members from the LHAIA at these meetings who clearly support the re-zoning. I know of two people in my neighborhood who support it. But are there really groups out there who have united in support of this thing? Where are they? Who are they? Three neighborhood associations in proximity to the Church/Skillman corner have independently developed their own documented resolutions against the re-zoning and development. But I have yet to see anything from the side who we are continually told is in support.

And that’s one reason folks over here are mad. We've done our homework. We've gotten organized. But despite our wishes and protests, our city councilman refuses to support us.


I live over a mile or two away from that area so it's hard for me to feel like I should get involve din someone else's backyard, but I will say the bickering, infighting and yelling that takes place is getting a bit ridiculous. Almost makes me want to move out of Lake Highlands. Are we a community or are we a bunch of NIMBY's?


I totally understand where the neighbors are coming from. What Jerry Allen is doing is akin to pure blackmail. These strong arm tactics are NOT how an elected official should treat his constiuents. Allen should just say I'm supporting the petition and be done with it, not seem to entice the homeowners while carry a big bat (his vote) over their heads.
Here is what I would do if I were in the neighborhood:
1. Alert the big media--get TV stations, the Dallas Morning News and any media outlet available to give Jerry some "publicity" about his blackmail offer.
2. Start a recall petition. While I don't live in this neighborhood, I would gladly sign this petition. I don't want someone representing me who intimidates his own constituents. Let's find someone else who actually listens to citizens, not developers.
3. Check and see if this threat to vote a certain way unless his constiuents come up with a new owner/developer is a violation of the City Ethics code. If so, file a complaint against Allen.
4. Start a letter writing, email and phone call campaign to other City council representatives to let them know Jerry Allen is not representing the interests of his constiuents. Angela Hunt seems to be very responsive to her district's citizens, maybe she could be the champion of this neighborhood.

I am appalled at Jerry Allen. Shame on him!


Instead of complaining why don't you get a hold of this VAST list of all the home builders that want to build there? Or pool your funds so you can buy the area for a neighborhood park. I think you will find it’s not economically feasible to build houses there or some home builder would have done it already. I think Jerry's offer to wait 90 plus days is very good. If you have something in the works by May I’m sure he would even give you more time. Most the residents are miffed because now the onus is back on them to make something else happen. Get off you humps and start calling people and doing some research instead of wasting time trying to recall Jerry, people are even too lazy to make that happen. Its only a two year term, if you’re so irritated run for the position.


AMF, whatever happened to a city council representative listening to citizens and not pandering to any developer who comes along? What is the big rush to get this land developed? Sure, tax revenues, but really, it's been vacant for years, why can't it wait until something more suitable is proposed? I too think single family homes may not be doable at that location given all the multi-family nearby; however, I resent Allen not listening to the majority of the neighboring citizens who are opposed and representing their wishes. Why should the onus be on the homeowners/voters? It's not unreasonable to expect a city council representative to actually "represent" his citizens.
Yes, a recall is hard, but it gets the point over very effectively that the citizens are not happy with the representation they are receiving.

Trey Randal

What AMF obviously does not realize—and probably a lot of others don’t either—is that:

1. There are home builders who are interested and who are talking with Prescott now. Some have been interested for quite some time but it is only now that Prescott has been willing to talk to them and entertain the possibility of something other than retirement apartments on that site. Be assured that these talks are underway.

2. The reason that homes—or anything for that matter—have not been built on this site before now is quite important. Here’s why: The property at the corner of Church/Skillman is comprised of two skinny, diagonal lots that not much could be done with due to their size and shape. However, the church property next to that (that faces onto Skillman) has recently become available for purchase. That changes the playing field considerably. If you add that property into the mix it creates a nice, triangular-shaped chunk of land that could be developed under its current residential zoning. But until very, very recently that was not possible. So maybe you’re right—maybe houses would or would not work there, but instead of a multi-story apartment complex why not tastefully done, owner-occupied townhomes or brownstones? There’s got to be something that's residential and much better than apartments that would work there. Ever been to Austin or Arlington? There are houses all over the place built on the sides of those hills. Why can’t it work here too? It can.

3. We ARE off our humps (as AMF recommends). We HAVE done the research (that AMF recommends). AMF has no idea of the hours we have put into this over in our neck of the woods. Furthermore, I personally don’t think that a recall of Jerry Allen is the solution. I think a clear and level playing field and good, solid representation of the citizens and not the developers is what’s needed here.


To the dismissive point of "I think you will find it’s not economically feasible to build houses there or some home builder would have done it already.", one first needs to become educated about the ownership dynamics of this land. The simple reason this land has never been developed by a developer or a homebuilder is because it has never been on the open market for anyone to acquire...absent two 2-acre bowling alley lots whose configuration would never support any development opportunity.

Further, only two of the three tracts of land were on the market at the time Prescott Realty Group acquired the church property from the Assembly of God; it is understood Prescott Realty Group approached the Assembly of God with an offer at a time when the congregation was considering ways to upgrade their facility, a late 1970's vintage metal building structure that was no longer economically feasible to upgrade due to Dallas City code requirements. With an offer in hand, the Assembly of God arranged for a relocation of the congregation to another facility, perhaps merging two congregations, and a purchase transaction was closed in September 2007. The land went under contract to JPEC LLC sometime in October, given the November 5, 2007 filing date for the rezoning; JPEC LLC then acquired and closed on the office building in mid-November, 2007.

The land was not made available to anyone other than JPEC LLC, and somehow our City Councilman believes in less than 90 days a sale transaction can be accomplished at a price JPEC LLC was willing to pay...plus interest from March 26th? THIS MUST BE A BANKER ATTEMPTING TO DO A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION???



If one were to obtain a copy of the "deal" being "brokered" by our City Councilman, one would immediately understand the economics being offered by the City Councilman's "deal" to a prospective developer/homebuilder is equivalent to the price to be paid under an existing contract with JPEC LLC, where the use is significantly higher density. By definition, the land cost has a much smaller economic impact to JPEC LLC than when applied against a lesser number of houses in a single family residential development.

Our City Councilman has also agreed that any prospective acquirer will pay to Prescott Realty Group an amount of interest beginning as of March 26, 2008 representing Prescott Realty Group's land carrying cost. Since when did you sell an asset where the prospective buyer agreed to pay you your interest/carrying cost from the time the prospective buyer started considering the purchase of the asset you have for sale??

SO, perhaps our City Councilman has set in motion a flawed, failed transaction proposal at the very time he made the representations to the HOA boards on Monday evening. Prescott Realty Group has the right to accept or reject offers and determine what constitutes a "serious" offer. Our City Councilman further represented that Prescott Realty Group would assess the "quality" of the developer submitting an offer to acquire the land, if such a party were to come forward.

Perhaps this is about nothing more than providing enough of a smokescreen for our City Councilman to be able to say to those around the horseshoe at City Hall that "I gave those homeowners an opportunity to find a developer to acquire the land!". Perhaps it is representative of our City Councilman's motives dating back to the initial filing of this case where he feigned neutrality on this case....yet despite a 10-2 denial at the City Plan Commission, he now is fully in favor of the project and has now publicly stated what the homeowners have suspected all along....that he will put a motion to the City Council to approve this rezoning.

Does anyone wonder who was promised what, and whether any promises were made by our City Councilman about delivering a rezoning on this property to the acquirer?

I simply raise the question: "Do you want your City Councilman "brokering" real estate deals in Lake Highlands, representing the interests of the citizenry of Lake Highlands on issues that come before him and at City Hall in an effort to preserve the stability of our neighborhoods and schools, or back working in his bank officer position at Colonial Bank?"

Since our City Councilman has been in office, can you be assured he has represented the interests of this community? Has he actively attempted to educate the community on zoning matters? - OR - Has he worked principally with wannabe developers that have no development experience, have no formal development company staffed with experienced development people, and have never built the types of developments that he has pressed to be undertaken in Lake Highlands, namely Church Road & Skillman Street and Shoreview & Ferndale?

While many of us in the community are seeking redevelopment of various properties throughout Lake Highlands, it is STILL OUR COMMUNITY, and when the developers have all come and gone, we’re left to deal with both their improvements and their mistakes (as has been the case with the deteriorating multi-family and dead retail strip centers – is there any coincidence these go hand in hand throughout Lake Highlands). If we don’t position ourselves to deal with the details contained in these zoning issues up front, like the HOA’s that have stepped up to address the reasonability of expectations that property zoned R-7.5(A) adjacent to an existing residential development of R-7.5(A) homes will remain that way, our entire community will suffer.

Make no mistake, with the approval of two 4-7 story structures since December 2007, our City Councilman has announced to the real estate development community that LAKE HIGHLANDS REAL ESTATE IS UP FOR GRABS WHILE HE IS IN OFFICE, AND “COME ON DOWN!!”.

Bill Kennedy

Does anybody here not think that this whole thing stinks to "good ol' boy" high heaven, just like Blaydes' attempted rezoning push of the Hollywood Door land grab on White Rock Trail? And here we have Prescott Realty involved, yet again, who would have been the number one beneficiary of that Blades rezoning, what with them owning the LHTC land directly across the tracks from Hollywood Door.

Why on earth should property owners in LH have to bow to a 90 day ultimatum from their council rep? What on earth is that all about??

If I lived there, I would be calling Jim Shutze at The Observer and asking him to sniff this one out, just like he exposed Blaydes here:

...and here...



I went to the Observer website, found the contact Jim Shutze link and sent him an email. I'd encourage others who are concerned about Allen's strong arm tactics to do the same.

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