Even Land John Wiley Price Sold is Controversial, at Least for Neighbors and City Council

Categories: City Hall

Remember a few weeks ago when the FBI said that John Wiley Price had sold the vacant land 7001 Grady Niblo Road as part of a massive money laundering scheme? The property was at the center of another, less sensational but probably related debate over at City Hall this afternoon.

Councilman Scott Griggs gives an easy-to-understand breakdown of the plans on his website, but the basics are this: Years ago, the property, which is in a part of southwest Dallas that is still remarkably rural, was for some reason switched from single-family to multi-family zoning. It didn't really matter because no one wanted to build anything there until recently, when W.O. "Bill" Henry purchased the land and began moving forward on Patriot Ridge, a 192-unit apartment complex designed for veterans. Which caused Griggs and four other of his colleagues to ask why the hell the area was zoned for an apartment complex in the first place and, hey, maybe that should be changed.

So the item was put onto today's City Council agenda for a public hearing to decide whether to schedule a public hearing, which is exactly as ridiculously bureaucratic as it sounds. I arrived late to the council video feed, just in time to hear the developer (or his representative) warn the council not to touch his multi-family zoning. Or else.

As far as I can tell, he was the only person who spoke in favor of keeping things the same. The rest of the speakers, maybe 10 of them, were neighbors who wanted to return the area to single-family zoning.

Many of the concerns were practical. Grady Niblo Road is a two-lane blacktop that has a 90-degree turn known, ominously, as Dead Man's Curve. Increasing traffic on the street would be dangerous.

Mostly, though, neighbors just didn't want apartments.

"Veterans can live anywhere they want to," said Chris Lomax. "They don't need him to build them an apartment complex. I think (Henry)'s doing it for profit."

Matt Murrah, a Dallas Baptist University vice president and Mountain Creek resident, said neither Price, Henry, nor anyone else affiliated with the project had ever reached out to the community.

"It is just not a good fit," he said.

Others, like Bob Langford, said the whole deal, and Price's involvement in it, didn't pass the smell test.

"There's a lot of hanky-panky going on here."

It's too late to stop Patriot Ridge, but Griggs said he hopes the public hearing will encourage the developer to work with the community.

"I've extended my hand in friendship to the developer," Griggs said. "Let's talk about what's appropriate for this area in terms of zoning, in terms of traffic."

So far, though, Griggs said Henry hasn't returned his phone calls.



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16 comments
pridenjoy101
pridenjoy101

I hope its not only for Veterans because I went over the there the other day to check and see when they will be opened and I was told to come back April 15th.  I know I don't look like no veteran.... The place is real nice though and look very secluded.

Jongelo1
Jongelo1

The rezoning will have no effect on the existing apartment construction that is going on now.  The citizens of this area unfortunately were not aware that it was zoned MF until constructiion started. Now we know it is zoned MF, the re-zoning is to stop any further construction of apartments. "fool me once, your fault... fool me twice, my fault"

thanks for playing
thanks for playing

1. The $ from the sale of the land is being held by the FBI.  Call it what you will. 2.  Ask the local residents about the escarpment and what they've been told by the city/county. 3. I sit corrected.  Either way, I don't think the term "dead man's curve" came into existence by happenstance. We can debate all of this all day until the cows next door to the property come home.  The sad thing is, this development will likely get forced down the throats of these residents and very few veterans will ever move in.

RTGolden
RTGolden

1. The land is not 'under investigation'.  The disposition of the proceeds from the sale of the land are part of an investigation into JWP.  Thanks for playing. 2. The developer did his escarpment engineering requirements, so what's your point?     http://griggsfordallas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Patriot-Ridge-4810-Spur-408-Full-Set-of-Building-Applications-Permits-Site-Map.pdf 3.  The road is called Grady Niblo Rd.  It has a curve called dead man's.  4.  The lot rises approx 40' in a 500' depth, according to contour maps I can find online.       That's 8% grade.  That might indeed be difficult for disabled veteran to negotiate, yet the story says the plan is for veteran's housing, doesn't mention disabled.  Please paste a link to a source where they're for disabled veterans. (additionally, I'd love to see something that spells out the developer's intent to develop substandard apartments) 5. & 6. Very valid points.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Judging by the disparity among the comments here and able to be found quickly over the internet, nobody really seems to know exactly what is, or has been, going on with this particular piece of property. I would submit, the best course of action would be to avoid rezoning and hold off on issuing permits until a single set of facts about this land can be verified.  Then both sides will be starting at the same point in the argument. I do think it is wrong of the City to rezone the land without compensating the landowner for the lost value.  It was zoned MF when he bought it, from everything I can see.

A-nony-mouse
A-nony-mouse

Yup, all of that may be true, but I wasn't addressing any of that. I was trying to let people know that this piece of land has not been rezoned in at least 26 years and possibly not since it's been added to the city 36 years ago. An apartment complex could have always been built there, barring issues with the escarpment, regardless of who the property owner is. The deal might still be shady for other reasons, but the way it's zoned isn't one of them.

yeahbuddy
yeahbuddy

Betty, usually I agree with you on many things.  But you're a little uninformed here.  This really doesn't have anything to do with Price.  This developer never talked to people in the neighborhood.  That's just wrong.  You shouldn't do business like that.  If you would have been there yesterday, you would have seen neighbor after neighbor expressing legitimate concerns about this project.  Only one single mention was even made of your buddy Price, whom we now wonder if you were even running against after all.  Talk about pure politics.

thanks for playing
thanks for playing

That piece of land is also: *on a protected escarpment *under investigation by the FBI *on a road called "dead man's curve" *so steep that the average person would have a hard time walking it, much less disabled veterans *not connected to any public transportation *not even remotely close to any grocery stores Additionally, the developer at no point in time has ever informed any of the the neighbors of their intent to develop substandard apartments. Thanks for playing.

DevMan
DevMan

You would think City Hall would know better than to mess with Developers at this point! They dont play! 

Rumpunch
Rumpunch

Another question is who requested the change years ago? Was it JWP when he allegedly did not own the property? Everything has been shady regarding this deal. Every purchase has been suspect, including the latest, and I really think that construction should be stopped until the pending criminal trial is complete.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

This is pure politics that property has been zoned Multifamily for 30 years with University type housing proposed when the Land use study was done years ago.The developer was to help with the street improvement needed on Grady Nibble Rd. People are mad with John Price and just talking.Scott Griggs and the City should not get caught up in this punish John Prics gamelet the Feds do their job and City stay out of the way. The change of zoning did not become an issue until the property was identified by the news media as being involved in the Price investigation. Dallas will  pay another lawsuite, and help pay Price's legal fees,this is just wrong.To use City  staff, after issuing , building permit, and hold public hearing to change zoning.City Council members don't know about every building permit issued when all the neccessary zoning is already in place.I don't like government messing over folk no matter who they are. .

Bob
Bob

If this property has been zoned for apartments for more than 25 years, without complaint, it seems ridiculous to raise this issue now, Mr. Griggs.  If I owned this property, and you treated me this way, I would not return your calls either. Did you call Mr. Griggs to tell him you wanted to change his zoning and lower his property values, and ask him to cooperate with you?  Did you offer to compensate him for the loss in value that your actions would entail?  Or did you just ask him to roll over and take it, for the good of the neighborhood? Threatening a landowner with a value-reducing rezoning is not extending your hand in friendship--it is shaking your fist and commencing an assault.

Griggs Fan
Griggs Fan

The conversation was 99.5% about zoning and use and .5% about John Wiley Price.  Only one person who spoke even mentioned Price and it wasn't the one you mention.  This is an important story.  Scott Griggs is serving his constituents well here.  Please give him the credit he's due and stop grandstanding about Price.

A-nony-mouse
A-nony-mouse

That particular piece of land has been zoned Multifamily since at least 1986 and possibly has been zoned Multifamily ever since it was annexed by the City of Dallas back in 1976.

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