Neighbors lose fight against Sam's Club in East Village; mull legal action

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 6:33 PM

DALLAS -- The city of Dallas dealt a defeat to neighbors on the edge of Uptown who wanted to keep a Sam’s Club from moving in across North Central Expressway from West Village.

Dozens of activists showed up to challenge powerhouse developer, Trammell Crow. And while they did get sympathy, they didn’t get what they wanted.

The neighbors had hoped the city would re-open debate on the zoning changes given to Sam’s Club.

Residents claim the city of Dallas and Crow failed to notify them of zoning changes that would allow a 100,000-square-foot store in their backyard. Had they known, they say, they would’ve fought.

“All these people here that would’ve spoken at the hearing were deprived of their ability to do that,” said Alex Moore, a Cityplace neighborhood activist.

“We still have rights, we still have a council, we still have people who love Dallas enough to be fair,” said neighbor Dave Shaw.

A lawyer for Trammell Crow warned that the company has already made $100 million worth of commitments, and that if the city changed course, it would set a dangerous precedent.

“It’s going to put a chilling effect on the development community," said Trammell Crow attorney Kirk Williams. "It’s going to make the city of Dallas look bad."

The commission agreed with Williams and decided it could not go back on its original decision in May.

City staff defended Trammell’s notification, calling it proper. But some members of the City Planning Commission accepted the possibility that residents were not properly notified about Sam’s Club.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around when we are the ones who are supposed to inform the public,” said Robert Abtahi, a member of the Dallas City Planning Commission.

Dallas residents who worked hard to organize the neighborhoods argument were upset, but undaunted.

“It gets me even more energized to fight all the way through,” said Jonas Park, the lead organizer.

Park is confident his community will continue to fight and would not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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