"Nothing short of bizarre" is the way Rick Garza describes what happened at the recent city plan commission meeting where the Bishop/Davis land use study received a green light for the official public hearing process — or so everyone thought.
Garza is a Kings Highway resident, former city plan commissioner and chairman of the Bishop/Davis land use study steering committee — the committee that has been discussing possible land uses and zoning changes for Bishop Avenue and Davis Street since May 2008; hired architect Larry Good of Good, Fulton and Farrell as a consultant; and held multiple meetings getting neighbors’ opinions on what should happen.
That study, however, was not referenced in the motion made and approved by the plan commission. "What evidently occured was that a plan got pushed forward — it wasn’t Larry Good’s or the steering committee’s plan, simply because there were omissions of the plan that were unfortunately never communicated to anyone," Garza says.
More after the jump:
Since the last neighborhood town hall-esque gathering in Jaunary, the committee has been hoping that the two plan commissioners who represent the study area — James Prothro and Clarence Gary — would move the process forward by calling for official public hearings on the study (which would be a precursor to any official rezoning proposals and changes on the part of the plan commission). It’s clear that not everyone in Oak Cliff agrees on the plan as it now stands; committee members like Winnetka Heights resident Paul Maute have said they simply "want to get feedback to see if this is something that can move forward."
The strange part about what happened last week is that after all of the public input (most people speaking in favor of the Bishop/Davis study and one person opposing it, Garza says), Gary made the motion to go ahead with a public hearing process. But when he read the motion aloud, Garza says, he omitted 14 words from the page-long study area description stated on the plan commission agenda, which eliminated the Bishop/Davis study as a basis for the public hearing process.
"Basically it means they have then created their own study," Garza says, adding that he and others present at the meeting didn’t realize what had happened until after the fact. "So as you can probably guess, we the steering committee were pretty significantly disappointed to hear that this actually took place because it’s devious and very deceptive."
Whether Gary knowingly did this, Garza says he couldn’t say. Either way, it’s odd — if Gary knew what he was doing, then it was odd that he didn’t explicitly state this during the public input session, and if he didn’t, it was odd that a plan commissioner wouldn’t know the impact of such a motion.
I have calls into both Gary and Protho (though I have never received a call back from either of them before), and to the councilmen who appointed these two plan commissioners — Elba Garcia and Dave Neumann, who also appointed the Bishop/Davis steering committee members and have seemingly supported the study process since the beginning.