City Sued Over Council's Refusal to Give Lower Greenville Bowling Alley a Late-Night Permit

huntatgreenvillemeeting1.JPG
Photo by Gloria Levario
Angela Hunt explains the Lower Greenville Planned Development District proposal to property owners and residents at a packed July 2010 town hall.
One month ago, after a lengthy discussion, the Dallas City Council voted not to give a late-night specific use permit to a bowling alley being proposed for the old Lucky's Roadhouse space, next to Good Records on Greenville Avenue. Pauline Medrano -- who, with Angela Hunt, co-wrote the Planned Development District ordinance that makes SUPs necessary for anyone wishing to stay open till 2 a.m. -- said she was casting a nay because "Lowest Greenville deserves a more balanced neighborhood -- more shopping, more community retail." The rest of the council followed suit, echoing the City Plan Commission's recommendation to deny the permit.

But Susan Reese, who owns the property, refuses to let the council have the final word on the subject: On Tuesday she sued the city in Dallas County District Court, claiming in court documents that follow that the ordinance is "unlawful" -- a downright "conspiracy against bars in Lower Greenville," per the writings of Jackson Walker attorney Michael Knapek.

The suit, which is packed with neighborhood association letters and Unfair Park items offered as exhibits, recounts the history of the ordinance, which Hunt and Medrano began drafting in 2009 as a way to curb crime along that stretch of concrete. Said Hunt in our 2010 cover story on the subject, "Annually taxpayers are spending at least a quarter of a million dollars to babysit the drunks on Lower Greenville after midnight. And we're not going to expend taxpayers' money to create an oasis for frat boys and gang-bangers to get their swerve on."

Knapek says that Reese and other property owners were always "skeptical" of the proposed ordinance: "Concern was expressed that the SUP factors were too subjective and that the process was a pretext to strip tenants and landlords of their property rights." But, says the suit, city officials told them not to worry, that "the Late-Night SUP would involve simple hoop-jumping" and that the ordinance was intended solely to rid Lower Greenville of "bad actors." According to the suit:
Hunt in particular conveyed to Reese that she could pretty much guarantee that a new establishment, like the prospective bowling alley tenant of Plaintiffs Lower Greenville Avenue Trust and Reese, would be granted the Late-Night SUP. This made sense, as the prospective tenant of Lower Greenville Avenue Trust and Reese, a new establishment, could literally fail none of the factors outlined in the Late-Night SUP provision of the Ordinance, as it applies on its face only to an existing "establishment." Comfortable with the process as explained by Hunt and the City, Plaintiffs put their full support behind the ordinance, even joining Hunt at a public hearing. Shortly after the Ordinance was enacted, tenants and property owners, including Plaintiffs, realized they had been duped.
As far as Reese and her attorney are concerned, only the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has the right to do what the city's doing ("control bars"), and the city's ordinance violates the Texas Constitution and is a "fundamentally improper zoning law" -- some among myriad reasons they give for overturning the ordinance. The whole thing follows. We'll have more later: When I asked the City Attorney's Office for a response, I was told the city hadn't even seen the filing.

Update at 2 p.m.: First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers has now read the lawsuit and responds with a simple, "The City believes its zoning ordinance is valid and will vigorously defend it." Lawsuit Over Lower Greenville Planned Development District Ordinance
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rumpunch
rumpunch

The whole SUP process was flawed.  The main problem was the fact that SUP was supposedly tied to the address not the business.  Therefore, if the business closed then it appears that the SUP would remain.  I asked this question many times and never got a clear answer to the contrary. 

So from a landlord perspective, if your property has an SUP it is very valuable.  If it does not, it is nearly worthless (at least as a bar). 

A quite person
A quite person

Everbody has the right to the peaceful, quite enjoyment of their property. That is simple, common law idea that has been around awhile. Just because you can't afford to live in Highland Park doesn't mean you have an equal rights under the law. Lower greenville has been a pustule of problems for a while.

Guest
Guest

I'm with you. I used to have these neighbors who played their crappy heavy metal music  (not that all heavy metal is crappy, but this family had horrible taste) at full volume at all hours of the night. We'd call the police, and they'd turn it down for a while. But that wouldn't last long.

Eventually, the family had the house foreclosed on, and they left.

But you know what happened? The city just let some other family move into that house! Instead of letting the rest of us decide what we wanted done with that property to make sure it didn't impact our property values and our right to enjoy our own homes, the fuckers on the city council just let another family move right in EVEN THOUGH IT WAS A FAMILY THAT WAS CAUSING THE PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Sure, somebody will say that it's a different family, so we shouldn't hold the behavior of the previous family against them, but I call bullshit on that. I wish we could just trust that the previous family was just inconsiderate and full of bad actors (in the sense that they did bad things. I have no opinion of their acting ability), but you can't trust a family to do the right thing after what that other family put us through. We were the ones who had to live next to that other family, and we will never forget. We need some sort of permitting process to make sure such a thing never happens again. Where is the leadership in this city when we need them?

I just know I'm never going to be able to sell my house as long as a family lives next door.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Were they Swedish? I'll bet they were Swedes.

...fecking Swedes...

rumpunch
rumpunch

I agree with your point if the new "family" bought the house, they should be given the benefit of the doubt.  However, if the problem was a series of families who were causing problems due to lack of screening or oversight from their landlord, then you might be a little hesitent to trust the new "family".

Guest
Guest

Once was enough to lose my trust for the next people, but the city isn't stepping in with a guilt by association and preventing other families from moving in regardless of how I feel or how frequently the police had to come enforce the law against the old people.

But what are the chances that the city would pass a law prohibiting families from living in that house without a special permit that gets denied for, let's say, white families (the African-American family who lived there before was never a problem, and the immigrants from Mexico on the other side are the best neighbors I've ever had) or families in which the father likes bad music?

And I'm just talking about a single address where the annoying, lawbreaking family lived. To really compare it, the city would have to designate the whole block as "not for families" and not only restrict whoever moved into the new house, but also require the rest of the neighborhood (even those of us who've never done anything wrong) to go through the red tape of applying to live here (going so far to deny some of us), even though we already live here and aren't part of the problem.

The city would never pass that law. At best, they'd tell me to call the police when a problem arose, and they'd deal with it then and only then. But they're not going to punish a property owner for something someone else did.

Avi S. Adelman
Avi S. Adelman

Points of order on this and some other comments (and by the way, my head did not explode but I have hurt my neck laughing so hard).

- A private wrecking service, no matter how evil, cannot tow from public streets. Only the DPD can authorize a tow.

- There are parking passes in the area - it's called Resident Parking Only and covers most of the streets south of Belmont to Ross for about two blocks each way. I have a parking pass and you don't, so go park somewhere else. We have Resident Only Parking, paid for by the people who live on the street, who also signed the petition to bring it in. We don't care what anyone who does not live on our streets thinks about ROP.

- All your suggestions are based on ideas that cannot be enforced even if there was a contract. Anyone remember the paid police patrols in the area sponsored by the bars - that was $1,600 a month not very well spent when the patrons were the ones getting arrested for public intox or fighting.

- Your suggestions are based on mutual trust between the parties. How do you tell some drunk SMU kid he can't barf on your lawn just cuz it ain't in stride with the mutual cooperation agreement? The bar owners won't cooperate if you negatively impact their bottom line. If a neighbor breathes on a regular basis, that impacts their bottom line. You can't make deals that let a business violate code.

The property owners are mad because they drank Hunt's cool-ade. In return for supporting the SUP, they got promises for every SUP they applied for. The neighbors were told the SUP would not be issued until someone proved their business compatible. As soon as the first stink came up (the bowling alley, Kush), Angela ducked her tail under ass and ran for cover. She would not tell the NAs that she had promised the bowling alley would pass. She could not get the Plan Commission to support it. She postponed the first council vote when she saw every neighborhood association that supported the SUP opposing the bowling alley. Then she looked around the horseshoe and saw every single vote (including Medrano) was against her. She made sure not to be at council two weeks later when the vote was unanimous against the bowling alley. Plausible deniability?

I predicted the SUP would end up in court, but I had no idea that Sue Reese would throw Angela Hunt under the short yellow bus by acknowledging she made a deal with Hunt (I have no doubt there is a tape of that meeting). Does anyone remember Andres was against the proposal before he also (apparently) made another sweetheart deal, like patios for all his properties. Yeah, I see how fast those tenants are signing on the dotted line.

For ten plus years the City ignored Lowest Greenville. When City Hall realized they could not unravel all those years of lax enforcement, they tried audits. Epic fail. Then they tried heavy crime enforcement - 30 plus cops every weekend. Another epic fail. Angela Hunt pulls some stupid idea of using zoning to enforce activities (which discriminates against those in the zone versus those outside like Upper Greenville) and lies to everybody just to get it passed. Takings, anybody???

On the other side of the dirty coin, does Madison et al not realize the can of worms they have opened?? Let's suppose the SUP is gutted by the court and eventually revoked. So now all the parties come back to the table and start planning another effort to bring the area back to sanity. Ooops, guess who ain't invited to the meeting? Bueller, Bueller? Madison and any other property owner who has an adversarial position is not invited. Things go from bad to really damn awful very fast.

What about all the money spent by the (very) few businesses who were SUP'd? They are never ever going to make back the average $5,000 they spent - for nothing.

If the City had just grown a set of large cajones and enforced the laws that have been on the books for years (like not letting bars into an area zoned Community Retail under the sheep's clothing of 'restaurants without drive-in service), we would not be having this construction.

Someone was anxious to have a monument built in their honor on Lowest Greenville. We could just rename the street Angela's Way, but by the time anyone notices the change we will all be dead.

Invest in a good popcorn maker, it's gonna be a long movie!

Daniel Windham
Daniel Windham

hey now... dont be throwing smu under the bus. the frat guy's gotta party! lol

Lee
Lee

tl;dnr

Rangers100
Rangers100

Good god.

Thanks for the reminder of how much the M Streets and Lower Greenville suck. That whole area is just Frisco-lite. So boring, so white, so scared.

guest
guest

Thanks for reminding us that bigots are well accounted for within the core.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Seems to me the LGNA, the city, the bar owners and the patrons of Lower Greenville could make huge strides in accommodation if they would focus on enforcement instead of entrenchment/eviction.  The city and LGNA want to, in effect, evict the bars from the neighborhood.  On the surface this might seem like a good idea; lower crime, safer, etc.  However, what else is going to draw the patrons into the area to support this 'Retail and Family oriented business' migration LGNA is continually talking about?  What they will end up with is a dead area.  Dead areas in urban environments generally end up with severely depressed property values, higher crime and lower police presence.On the other hand, if the bar owners and patrons made visibly apparent strides in improving their interaction with the neighbors, it might go a long way toward easing off pressure from the city and the NA.  Offer to split the difference with Longhorn Wrecking to cruise the area.  The NA could issue parking passes to residents, and longhorn tows anything without a pass parked along the streets surrounding lower greenville.  Longhorn will tow any car, from anywhere, for any reason, or no reason at all!  With any luck they'll tow Adelman off somewhere.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

Did I just see someone who lives in LG complain about gunshots?  LOL  Did you know how close you were to the ghetto when you moved in? And these people are worried about loud bars. 

rawlins.gilliland
rawlins.gilliland

I'm lucky to know the amazing Susan Reese personally... and have a personal sense of what she was trying to do here & what she was lead to believe while playing ball with the council person(s) etc.  And I can tell you that she is not a person to 1) seek a 'win at any cost' venture 2) undermine the future of an area she largely owns 3) say something that she will do & then do nothing or call in 'sick'.  This story is more revealing about a few ambitious weather-vain politicians blowing with the wind & blowing the support of those who trusted them to be honorable. 

I hope Susan prevails & that the SUP crap is sent packing elsewhere. This whole thing stinks. But I'm betting that those who double-crossed Susan Reese & others will not come out smelling like a rose.  I think it might help to read Ken Lowry's post below. He says in one line what needs to be said but no one will admit in an earnest forum. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Gotta love our "heroes in city government" screwing a business owner because of a couple of bad players on the opposition. Here's hoping the city pays through the nose before this case is over, then just for spite, opens the business down in Deep Ellum, as we have the space ;)

Rangers100
Rangers100

Hear, hear.

Deep Ellum also happens to be a cool place with cool people. Not the type of place run by Angela Hunts and Avi Adelmans.

guest
guest

Does your mommy and daddy know you're playing on the internet?

Guest
Guest

If the neighbors want to control what perfectly legal businesses occupy these buildings, they're more than welcome to make an offer to buy the buildings themselves.

guest
guest

if the business owners want to do what they like without regard for their neighbors they can buy the houses around them. this kind of stupid argument doesn't advance they discourse.

Rvleahy
Rvleahy

BRING BACK THE BLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Lee
Lee

Cue Avi's head exploding.

Allan Cano
Allan Cano

Best of luck and hope the suite fails.  Though I support everyone's right to challenge a law that they view as wrong; I support any law that limits the number of bars and late night drinking on Greenville.  As a local resident that's tired of hearing late night cars racing down Goodwin and the odd gun shot I support Hunt and SUP.

Allan
Allan

To clarify.  I'm simply say I support the use of SUPs by the city.   I can understand that the owner's of the bowling bar are upset.  I actually found the idea quite appealing to have a bowling alley in the neighborhood.  If the owners feel that didn't get a fair shake then they should appeal the decision.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Frisco is calling you, Allan. You can stay home and huddle in fear and peace and quiet there with the rest of its Tea Partiers.

guest
guest

And you're supposed to be an urban intellectualist? Strange what goes for intelligence these days. Peace, hater :)

Coleman
Coleman

jesus, need a tampon for that enormous vagina?

Billy Blanks
Billy Blanks

You wouldn't move over to Cedar Springs and complain about it being too 'fabulous' would you? If that sort of thing bothered you, you would live somewhere else.

Jason
Jason

Wait.  You live on Goodwin and you are talking about a bowling alley that is 11 blocks south of you?  Sounds to me that if you have a problem with the area you need to discuss the bars where you live.  Good thing you support Mrs. Hunt.  She might need it after all of this is over.

Lee
Lee

THIS

Gavin Mulloy
Gavin Mulloy

Then why did you move to an entertainment district?

Allan Cano
Allan Cano

I moved into a conservation district not an entertainment district.  A neighborhood with two schools in walking distance of my home.  I like it very much that I can walk to the blue goose with my kids.  I have no problem with bars and concert venues which are being operated responsibly.  I am supporting the laws created by our elected representatives which help determine who is acting responsibly.

If the owners of the bowling bar feels they didn't get a fair shake then I support their right to sue.  It just seems like an awful lot of people are ready to pounce on this law without considering the hundreds on residents that have to live with the weekend problems created by the bars.  If this law reduces the need for the 20 extra cops required to police greenville on the weekends I feel that's time well spent.

Jason
Jason

Silly Gavin.  You know that Dallas does not have "entertainment districts"...

Anon
Anon

so people who move to neighborhoods with known reputations for one thing or another are not allowed to attempt to improve them by advocating for themselves through their elected representatives? I moved in to my house knowing there was a scumbag landlord a couple blocks away whose property is a known magnet for drug activity. shall I refrain from calling the police and complaining to my councilperson because that's how it was when I moved in? not a perfect analogy but the idea that residents are expected to just take what's coming to them is absurd. I support this property owners right to sue, I just don't like this knee-jerk reaction of people saying that residents of the area shouldn't exercise their rights.

Ken Lowery
Ken Lowery

It will stay that way indefinitely, because conscientious business owners want nothing to do with a neighborhood association that will harass them at every turn. All that's left are a few good places and a whole lot of very bad ones that don't care what ANYONE says.

Guest
Guest

I'm saying a bar with a bowling alley that doesn't exist might should get a chance before we condemn it as part of the problem. Just like I wouldn't say that nobody should be able to live in your neighborhood because there was a drug house there making house owners look bad. This bowling alley hasn't done anything to your property values. It wasn't allowed to exist.  (And there are many economists who argue that empty properties harm the nearby property values, too, so by denying this permit, your property values might well be taking a hit, too).

Or, if we're going to use the law to take away a property owner's ability to use their property in the way they could when they bought the property, we should compensate them for the loss. Otherwise, it is, to me, an illegal taking.

If there are bad actors, deal with the bad actors or come up with a solution that penalizes the bad actors without penalizing everybody else (even things that can't have been bad actors because they don't exist yet), too.

Anon
Anon

right, clearly selling drugs is illegal. but the property owner has sued the city multiple times based on what it thinks is aggressive policing that is unfairly targeting the property in question. maybe the city just has horrible, horrible attorneys, but at this point DPD has an unofficial policy whereby it can respond to official complaints made where the caller sees a specific action related to drug activity, but lesser infractions are deemed not to be worth the city's legal bill. it's not a problem to be fixed through zoning, but if you think that illegal activity just gets dealt with in the normal course because it's illegal, I suppose I've now educated you on why it sometimes doesn't.and property rights cut both ways - to the extent that they spill over and affect others. if you want to make the case that alcohol-related activity on Greenville does not have a direct, tangible impact on surrounding property, thereby justifying its regulation by local government, then I guess we just disagree about the extent to which property rights exist (I'm not just talking about depressing property values - I'm talking about a specific causal relationship). for someone who didn't like my analogy, you've put a pretty poor one in your own response. hard to make the case that my bathroom habits affect anyone outside my household.

jfpo
jfpo

I don't think anyone is against residents trying to make their neighborhood better, the beef is with the specifc process. I drove down Greenville on Sunday. Hope everyone is enjoying their newly fashioned ghost town because it looks like it's going to stay that way for a while.

Guest
Guest

I'm surprised to learn that selling drugs out of a house in your neighborhood wasn't already illegal. You had to go to your councilperson and get the city law changed before the police could do anything about that?

This city is more liberal than I thought.

(And why is infringing on the property rights of others - and effectively taking aspects of their property without compensation - a right of other people. Where in the Constitution is the right to dictate what other people legally do with their property? If I were to get the city council to pass a law saying that you couldn't use your bathroom between midnight and 8am without a special permit that the city is likely to deny, you'd rightfully complain that was an infringement of your property rights. But when we do it to other private property owners, we fall back on "We're just trying to improve the neighborhood").

Jason
Jason

Yes, you can exercise your rights as a resident to work with your elected representatives, but this case is about exactly what your representatives did to help you with your cause.  

Your analogy was silly, by the way.  You purchased the property knowing it would be a gamble.  That's a pretty big investment to make if you weren't sure you could live near a drug dealer if your representatives weren't able to do anything about it.    

Ken Lowery
Ken Lowery

The question I'd love to see answered.

Guest
Guest

WAY TO GO SUSAN REESE!!! SUE THE HELL OUT OF THESE CORRUPT ASSHOLES!!! 

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Awesome.  I hope they get taken to the cleaners and have to explain to voters why they wasted so much money and time playing their own little version of SimCity in Lower Greenville.

Ken Lowery
Ken Lowery

That's what we get for going with the SUP. The city was too chicken shit to target the bars everyone KNEW were trouble, the ones TABC said they could shut down, so they tried to get cute and backdoor it with the SUP. And now a business that would've been good for Greenville got the shaft.

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