Something amazing happened at the Richardson Civic Center Tuesday evening. The City Plan Commission (CPC) denied, by unanimous vote, a rezoning request to build a chain of pad restaurants along the US 75 frontage road just north of West Spring Valley Road.
The request was non-conforming to the zoning painstakingly worked out several years ago with all stakeholders as part of a revitalization plan for the West Spring Valley Corridor. Instead, the request wanted to ditch that form-based, mixed-use zoning and put in a same-old, same-old row of pad restaurants just like you see all up and down US 75 as far as the Oklahoma line. Obviously this doesn't fit the vision for revitalization of southwest Richardson, and critically, doesn't fit the spirit or the letter of the law as far as current zoning goes. So it ought to have been, and was, denied. Nothing to see here. Move along, right?
Still I was agape at the vote. I'll tell you why, after the jump.
This was city-owned property. It's the former Continental Inn site that the city bought a few years ago with the express purpose of redevelopment of the site. So, in a way, at Tuesday night's hearing, the city was sitting on both sides of the table talking to itself. The city's negotiating partner in the deal (the developer) was requesting from the city itself a zoning change to build something the city must have told that developer that it wanted.
You can't stack the deck for something any more than this. How can this possibly go down? I can imagine Wednesday morning the developer going to... somebody with the city and saying, "What the hell? Who do I work with in this town to get something done?" I just don't know who that somebody is that the developer has been going to and whose name he'll be given now for who he should have been dealing with instead.
The answer to those questions will determine whether this deal will be pushed through the city council over the CPC's objection or if it will go back to the drawing board to come up with something conforming to the vision everyone thought was agreed on once before.