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Council Green Lights More Apartments, but Blocks Home Building

Wednesday, November 28, 2012; by Buddy Saunders

Ask just about any citizen and they’ll tell you that Arlington has too many apartments, so why is our City Council fast-tracking more while denying permits to build single family homes?

Here are two recent examples of Council votes that illustrate what’s happening.

High Density Apartments: At the November 6 City Council meeting, the Council approved a $2.15 million sweetheart deal, giving the developer of a high-density apartment complex a $1,165,514 grant, plus $650,000 to cover demolition costs, and the Council waived $432,000 in construction-related fees. Many of the code requirements applicable to new apartment construction were ignored by the Council so that many more apartments could be built per acre. Parking space requirements were also substantially reduced.  This kind of apartment building is referred to as “stack and pack” because of the very high density it achieves. Obviously, the council members who approved this really wanted stack and pack and are in this case willing to fork over $2.15 million of our tax dollars to make it happen.

Single Family Home Sub-Division: Then, at the November 20 City Council meeting, the Council voted in Zoning Case PD12-16 to deny a permit for the building of $200,000 single family homes in south Arlington.  The developer had been denied by the Council once before, despite the fact that his plans met or exceeded all zoning requirements and had been approved unanimously by the city’s Zoning Board.  Before making a second application, the developer made further adjustments in his plans in the hopes of satisfying the whims of Councilwoman Sheri Capehart.  Among other things, she objected to garage doors being visible from the street, contending that they are unsightly. We find it strange that any city council would block the construction of upscale homes, and wonder if the motive for doing so is to keep the land open for another purpose.

You can see how your City Council voted on these two issues at our “How Your Council Voted” page.

Whatever the motive, we have in these two cases a City Council that rides roughshod over established zoning rules, favoring some and punishing others. Such behavior eats away at private property rights and lays the city open for cronyism and worse.  Arlington does not want to become another Chicago.

Every citizen of Arlington should be ashamed of how our City Council treated that home builder. And any citizen of Arlington could be the next to get this shoddy treatment.

Garage doors don’t lower property values and cause crime. Aging apartment do.  Just ask the residents of north Arlington.  On Thanksgiving, yet another person was murdered in a north Arlington apartment complex, and home burglaries, once rare in north Arlington, are a frequent occurrence.

If this Council thinks it can solve Arlington’s apartment problem by building more apartments, they owe it to the citizens of this city to explain how doing so benefits Arlington, not just now but in the future.

9 Responses to Council Green Lights More Apartments, but Blocks Home Building

  1. m

    December 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I watched the video of this idiotic denial today… it certainly gives the appearance that this outcome was predetermined, long before the *first* hearing.

    Had an interesting FB exchange today with Mr. Parker, raising questions about his vote for denial. While I respect him as a person and for his military service, he was not able to give me a single good reason for his vote…. choosing instead to present a weak argument about this particular developer’s history… which includes a completed project of SF homes in CLOSE PROXIMITY to a FW sewage treatment plant. Homes with an average county valuation of $415,000. Which had absolutely nothing to do with the question posed.

    Trying to make it appear that the city would refuse a $16 million INVESTMENT in Arlington over garage doors is also ludicrous.

    Given the past history of mayor and council’s rubber-stamping of new apartments, coupled with tax-bailout incentives and complete ignorance of existing building/acreage/parking/landscaping/etc. standards, I fully expect even MORE apartments to be added to Arlington’s stock in the very near future. Including on the property that was just denied the zoning change request in this case.

    It might be common knowledge that with the stock market, “past performance does not guarantee future results”, but in local political parlance, the opposite is painfully true.

    • buddy

      December 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Explaining that no vote would be a challenge for anyone so I can understand why no one on the council wants to try. Regarding the objection to garage doors that are visible from the street, there has to be a fuller explanation for the rejection than just that. However, it is astonishing that any such garage door objection came up at all. By the curious standard of some council members, I live in an unsightly home because my garage door is visible from the street. But I don’t feel that bad. At least half the homeowners in Arlington have the same garage door “problem.” The garage door thing is la la land stuff. The rejection of the builder’s plan is, however, serious and a vast over reach of power.

      • m

        December 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        I believe the garage door objection was solely a diversionary tactic. It had absolutely nothing to do with the conversation… and the builder overcame that objection by agreeing to install more decorative doors.

        No, this land-use denial has Agenda 21 fingerprints all over it. I hope the developer files a lawsuit, and I don’t say that lightly. Unfortunately for us Arlington taxpayers, if he does sue, we’ll get to fund the city’s weak defensive argument. At least it would prove a point, and perhaps Cluck and Co. would finally be forced to acknowledge/admit that A21 is indeed being used to dictate policy in Arlington.

  2. buddy

    November 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve attended many City Council work sessions and evening meeting. Public discussion of any issue–even major issues–is rare and always limited. Citizen expecting answers don’t get any. We as citizens are certainly bound by the city’s building codes, but apparently our Council members aren’t. In the case of the home builder, it could be that the Council wanted apartments rather than homes built on his vacant land. It just doesn’t make sense that the homes were block because of Ms. Capehart odd esthetic perspective on garage doors, or the suggestion that $200,000 homes just weren’t expense enough for Ms. Capehart’s taste. This is a case where outrageous Council behavior should be answered with a good attorney.

    • m

      December 4, 2012 at 12:54 am

      FWIW, there are THREE Mansfield ISD schools in the immediate vicinity of this rejected SF development… I guess the government of Arlington can’t wait to share the misery of failing schools with our neighbor to the south, Mansfield.

      It’ll be interesting to see how hoppin’ mad the homeowners and parents of students in those schools become when apartments get shoved down their throats, overrunning their neighborhoods and overcrowding their schools.

      Ah, yes…. Shared misery. It seems to be the sole purpose of government these days.

      • buddy

        December 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        As you point out, when new apartment complexes are added to a neighborhood, there is often a negative impact on school quality. High density apartments complexes should also be a concern for tax payers as well when new schools have to be built to serve the expanded student population.

        • m

          December 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

          I’ve seen AISD object to just about every planned apartment project in the last few years, as the school district knows full well that as the overall population increases in a particular area, a good number of those residents are going to be school-aged children.

          In the case of this parcel, I don’t think Arlington city government cares at all about that, because those children would be attending MISD schools… so THOSE taxpayers would be on the hook.

          As you are well aware, for some reason, politicians like to believe that tax dollars from ‘other sources’ such as the federal government, state government, etc. just magically appear ‘other people’…. they conveniently forget those ‘other people’ is *always* US.

          I believe that’s why our mayor is such an ardent supporter and any federal program to which Arlington can be attached… that’s not ‘local’ money….

          • m

            December 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

            Oh, that should have read: “just magically appear from other people”

            Sorry.

  3. steelermac

    November 29, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I would like to know the reasoning behind these two council decisions.
    Q#1 Was there any open discussions during council meetings? Were these deals decided in their often
    used closed door meetings?

    Q#2 What makes Sherry Capehart an authority on a garage door’s impact on property values? And, does she have any evidence that supports her claim?

    Answers;

    #1 No
    Very likely

    #2 Nothing
    Not likely

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