April 2, 2010
Dallas City Council Member Angela Hunt talks about the pending discussions on rezoning Lowest Greenville and BelmontNA's legitimacy as a neighborhood association
In anticipation of the upcoming meetings to discuss the proposed rezoning of Lowest Greenville commercial properties, your BelmontNA board has been engaged in a lively and at times loud (just ask my wife, listening in the next room) discussion by email and phone of the myriad issues involved.
We all agree that this concept - and others that are being discussed as we speak - will be regarded in a few years as tipping points for our community. But we could not agree on how we as an Association would move forward with the discussion, hearings, and eventually the permit hearings this would require.
The Association submitted three very direct questions to Ms. Hunt, and she obliged us with three very direct answers. This material has not been edited except for the expansion of abbreviations. The questions were written by Avi S. Adelman, BelmontNA founding member and current member of the Association's Board of Directors
BelmontNA: After the first round of meetings with neighborhood leaders, will we have more meetings as a group or subgroups to work on the agenda, materials, AV presentation, and all the things that go into a community meeting? And who will decide how those meetings will be announced and managed??
Angela Hunt: I anticipate this will be the only board meeting we’ll have. I just wanted to get all board members informed and hopefully, on the same page, in a small group setting. Future meetings to work on the agenda, materials, AV presentation, etc. will include only the neighborhood presidents or their designees. I will run all meetings.
I would like to have the opportunity to continue to meet and discuss this one-on-one with you, but I suppose that would mean there might be times when I might want to meet and discuss this one-on-one with other NA presidents, and I’m not sure of your thoughts or concerns on that, but I welcome them.
BelmontNA: After this PD is passed, who will decide on which businesses are 'bad' and which are 'good'? Will it be left to each association to make its own decision on how to proceed at each SUP hearing?? What happens if Association A disagrees with Association B???
Angela Hunt: I have no control over how NAs assess and respond to zoning cases. With regards to Specific Use Permit decisions related to the proposed PD, I imagine the process will be the same as it is now with zoning cases: Each association will have to make its own decision how to proceed with each SUP hearing. Disagreements will be handled the same way they’re handled in every zoning case – listening and talking with each NA and residents.
BelmontNA: The other associations around Lowest Greenville (Lowest Greenville West NA, Lower Greenville NA, Vickery Place NA, and the new Hudson Heights NA) do not recognize BelmontNA as a legitimate representative of this neighborhood and have done many things to either marginalize or simply ignore our existence. Our members have been out on the street for years, not only dealing with these problems but doing the research needed as we move forward towards the PD concept, while their officers slept quietly at home. I recognize this group of neighbors is a powerful base of supporters for you in political terms. While you privately and quietly tell us you appreciate our service and efforts, and have been out on the street with us on many nights, you have never publicly stated your recognition of BelmontNA as the legitimate representative of this neighborhood in its present boundaries. Before this process begins, will you make a public statement that acknowledges the BelmontNA as the legitimate representative of the neighborhood in our present boundaries?
Angela Hunt: I’m sorry you feel like I haven’t given you or BelmontNA quality public recognition; I really have tried to publicly convey my appreciation and respect for BelmontNA by appearing on television and praising you and the BelmontNA for its work on RPO, attending your events like the Arcadia art event [and auction at the rededication of the sign – Avi], inviting BelmontNA to all meetings I hold in my home with NA presidents (or any other meetings I have with NA presidents), immediately fanning BelmontNA on Facebook when you requested, working directly with you on a myriad of issues, noting in my email to your members that:
From the very beginning, any discussion about an SUP process has and will continue to actively include the Belmont NA. I think Avi will tell you I make sure to include and get advice from the Belmont NA on any and all area issues. Thanks for your input and rest assured Belmont NA has a seat at the table, every time.
I knew you were concerned about not sitting at the head table with me and other NA reps when we hold our SUP/PD meeting in June, so I very consciously spelled that out in my email to you and all the other NA presidents.
No one has suggested to me that BelmontNA be excluded or sidelined in this conversation and I would not do so even if requested. I'm not sure what else I can do to assure BelmontNA that it will be actively, fully engaged and not excluded or marginalized in any way. I have done my very best to include the BelmontNA as I have every other NA and will continue to do so. So we are all crystal clear: At the full community meeting in June, each NA will have a representative of their choice come sit with me to show solidarity, assuming we can maintain accord.
If you are asking if I will proclaim that the BelmontNA is the sole representative of the residents within its boundaries and the LGNA does not represent those residents, then I’m unable to do so. Nor would I do so if the LGNA asked me to (do the same thing). The City of Dallas isn’t the arbiter of such matters, and I’m not the "Boundary Queen” (though I like that moniker) for neighborhood associations and won’t be getting involved in those matters.
I am happy to publicly state that I respect and recognize the BelmontNA as a legitimate NA and appreciate everything you all have done to improve the neighborhood and Lowest Greenville. If I haven’t already done that to your satisfaction, I apologize.
I could say something at our June meeting when I introduce you and each NA representative, if that is the type of public statement you mean; let me know if you have something else in mind and I’m happy to discuss.