Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Return of the Dead: Warehouse Edition

Remember when the Richardson City Council rejected a request to build a self-service warehouse on Arapaho Rd west of Custer Rd? The vote was four to three to kill the proposal.

Here's what I thought in December about a warehouse in that location:

The other request is for rezoning for a self-service warehouse with outside vehicle storage (boats, motor homes, etc.) on Arapaho Rd west of Custer Rd. That's right in a shopping center, across the street from a shopping center, just down the street from the Civic Center. A few years ago, the city thought parked boats and motor homes were such an eyesore that the city council passed an ordinance restricting home owners from parking their recreational vehicles at their houses. The city also spent years buying up aging homes across Arapaho Rd from the Civic Center and tearing them down. Why in the world would the city now agree to zoning that would allow a self-service warehouse, with boats and motor homes parked outdoors, to be built in a shopping center, near a residential neighborhood, and just down the street from the Civic Center? Here's another use destined to destroy any hope that this aging retail neighborhood can be revived.
Source: The Wheel.
Like I said, the council rejected the rezoning request. After the jump, an update. Spoiler alert: like in all good zombie movies, the dead don't stay dead.

On the council's agenda at its March 26 meeting was a revised request for a zoning change for 3.49 acres of this property's 4.71 acres from commercial to industrial to allow for the construction of a self-service warehouse. The new request eliminated the outdoor vehicle storage component from the request previously rejected by the council.

Apparently, that was enough to swing the votes of Bob Townsend and Amir Omar in favor of the revised plan. The motion to approve the rezoning to allow for this industrial use in the middle of a commercial and residential area passed 5-2, with Townsend and Omar joining Mark Solomon, Scott Dunn and Kendal Hartley in the majority.

In December, I highlighted the vehicle storage as the most egregious of the reasons why a self-service storage facility on Arapaho Rd at Custer Rd is a bad idea. It didn't occur to me that the council would fold if the developer came back with essentially the same proposal, minus the vehicle storage component. I should have focused more on all the reasons why this is still a bad idea, even without boats and RVs. The council didn't win a victory by insisting the developer agree not to store vehicles outside the warehouse. The council lost by agreeing to let the developer build any kind of warehouse at all in a commercial zone.

Steve Mitchell, in voting no, argued that a self-service warehouse is not the highest and best use of that land and urged the council to hold out for a better use conforming to existing zoning. Mitchell used the example of II Creeks as what can eventually result if the council has patience. Coincidentally, I ate at Frankie's Mexican Cuisine in II Creeks on Saturday -- nice restaurant in a nice location. I doubt I would have gone out of my way to eat in II Creeks if a prior council had settled for a self-service warehouse in that commercial property. Laura Maczka also voted no, arguing that she wasn't going to approve something that she would not support for the neighborhood that she lives in herself.

I don't understand how the council can seem to "get it" when it comes to big greenfield projects like the transit-oriented development planned around the DART station at PGBT, but can be so blind to the consequences when it comes to a rezoning issue like this request for a warehouse in a commercial zone. Sometimes, just saying no is the pro-active thing to do. It was for II Creeks. It would have been in this case, too.

Well, Richardson is now stuck with that warehouse for twenty years. Make that forever. There's no way a future city council is going to vote to let a zoning decision like this expire and force the closure of a business that by then will have been operating in that location for two decades. That means that this retail neighborhood's prospects of a revival are gone forever.


dc-tm said...

The city used the threat of eminent domain to get TC Shaved Ice out of the way for II Creeks. II Creeks may be a nice place now, but that doesn't change how it was done. The threat of eminent domain to take from one person so another person or group of people can gain is a bad idea unless of course a person believes in "the ends justify the means".

Sassy Texan said...

why has zoning and a comprehensive plan if they continually change it based on a whim and a momentary decision.