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of this issue is not just the result of the basic incomprehensibility of the zoning lexicon. All sides have legitimate concerns. The Citizens want to curb the activities of abusive developers and land speculators who would reap profits at the expense of the public. The purpose of zoning laws, they remind us, is to protect the welfare of the public-not the rights of any particular property owner.

The staff wants to move Dallas out of its boomtown mentality and into an era of rational cosmopolitanism. (Read: past excesses have wreaked havoc on those charged with administering public policy; growth must be orderly if we are to survive.)

The business leaders fear the grip of Big Brother, who would restrict growth through involuntary zoning controls. They feel it’s just not right to tell a guy he can’t build what he thought he was going to be able to build when he paid what he paid for his land. They fear the staff has not adequately considered the economic impact on a city already grasping the short end of the prosperity stick.

In the end, the problem reduces to this: who is to say what is best for Dallas? Is it the professional planners, whose vision of a modern urban Utopia is grounded in an orderly, predictable process? Planners like to point to cities like San Francisco, which recently enacted the country’s most demanding restrictions on growth and development.

Or is it the guys who have hoisted this town up by its bootstraps? Our business leaders don’t view Dallas in terms relative to those wild-eyed liberals in California. They see us in relation to notoriously zoning-free Houston. And when you look at it that way, we’ve come quite a ways down the road to “responsible growth.” (Read: Hell, at least we don’t allow the building of massage parlors right next door to elementary schools!)

The coming months will see this zoning/ planning/growth vs. non-growth issue play itself out to an audience that is largely in an apathetic stupor because it can’t comprehend the dialogue. There will be stirring soliloquies, but all sides will give. The staff has already conceded (after considerable pressure from the business bigwigs) that perhaps it went “too far, too fast.” The citizens have charged their business opposition with strong-arming the powers that be in an effort to rip the guts out of the whole program. The businessmen continue to push for a rezoning plan that is “more voluntary.” (Read: This isn’t exactly East Berlin. Let’s give developers a little input on how their properties should be zoned.) This is a drama that we all need to tune into. When the curtain falls, the future of Dallas will be set.



IT IS WITH great pleasure that D announces the addition of another new member of the editorial team, Associate EditorSally Giddens. Formerly associate editor ofThe Dallas Downtown News, and an honorsgraduate of Vanderbilt University, Giddensbrings to D a vital link to the business andreal estate communities, which she hascovered for the past three years.

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