Friday, September 6, 2013

CCR 09-06-13: Chapstick and Feathers

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

     Sometimes, history does not repeat itself.  And sometimes individuals attempt to re-write history like seven members of the current city council appear to be doing.  Not only that, but when history doesn’t repeat itself, chickens molt and their feathers flutter into the abyss of abject apathy.  And former council member/civic agitator, Pat Raunikar (84-86), must be flapping her featherless wings in her final resting place.

      Simply put, where was the NW Irving Chicken Little Society* when the Irving city council approved the change for a 164-acre tract of industrial/commercial zoned property TO residential zoning this week?  And for those not familiar with the activities and political activism of the NW Irving Chicken Little Society, this zoning would not have been possible had the NW fowl been participating in the debate.  Since chickens don’t have lips, this group wouldn’t be requiring Chapstick like all seven council members who were smooching the Hines Interest posteriors to hastily approve this zoning case.

     Back story:  The NW Irving Chicken Little Society was directly responsible for a major law suit filed by the city of Irving against D/FW Airport, expenditure of large sums of money for attorney fees and developing a political base to elect council members in the mid-1980s. 

     For newbies, D/FW Airport was in the process of expanding their runway system and had crosswind runways scheduled to allow flying over the NW portion of the city...east and west of Esters Road.  Of course, the homeowners in this area were ready to do anything to halt the runway construction any way possible...due to the decibel level of jet aircraft approaching the new runways.  And the involvement in fighting D/FW Airport created a new political base to pressure the sitting members of the council.  The council did kowtow to this group’s whims and fancies since NW Irving had a very large and stable voting base.  How politicos think: What sitting council member, at this time, wanted to incur the wrath of a little gray headed lady, who was the chief spokesperson for the NW Irving Chicken Little Society, by not caving in to her demands?  Answer: No one on the council.

     Ultimately, the city lost the airport law suit on federal appeal.  However, D/FW Airport did go to the negotiation table with city leaders and the NW Irving Chicken Little Society folks received funds for sound attenuation of their homes, or a fair market price for their property.  Impacted folks in NW Irving pocketed the settlement bucks gleefully and many remained in their homes.  The airport did construct the runways and never a peep or cluck was heard from the group again.  In fact, the one-issue council members, who were elected as a result of the airport skirmish, soon lost interest and retired from public service.

     Long story short: The current city council’s wrongheaded approval of the zoning change, for land that is probably nearer to the airport noise cone than the crosswind runways were in the mid-1980s conflict, was a serious regression.  Why?  Seven council members approved a zoning change for residential housing in this area based on two reasons: the greed of increased property tax collections and the slick talk and lobbying of the developer, Hines Interest.  Apparently, the current council (except for Meagher and Putnam) doesn’t realize that zoning in the city should be based on property, not the personality or pipe dreams of developers.  This is P&Z 101 folks!  Seven members of the council must have flunked their course work.  So, be sure to ‘thank’: VanDuyne, Spink, Farris, Cannaday, LaMorgese, Webb and Danish, who really should have known better considering his prior P&Z and city council experience, for this unpalatable zoning case approval.  (BTW, snow cones are currently being served in hell as mayor BVD and Cannaday agreed with each other on this zoning case tragedy.)

     In another sense, the approval of residential zoning, in proximity to the airport by the above seven council members, is almost Kafkaesque in that the ruling bureaucracy has once again trampled on the citizens castle...Irving!

     It should also be noted that approving this zoning change to residential was a serious slap in the face and a regression of the planning process for all those who committed the time and effort over the years to develop a comprehensive master plan for Irving’s progress and development.  While some might agree that plans can or should be changed at times, the property around the airport was never intended, nor should it have been, on any list of changes for zoning consideration.  Period!  But then, the city’s master planning does not take into account how some council members can be swayed (for this and other city considerations recently granted to Hines Interest) by smooth talking developers whose main consideration is making a buck...not what the future impact could be when the final nail is driven in one of the new homes. (Check out Love Field and other major cities where residential areas are bordering airports.  There always seems to be a large amount of urban blight and disrepair.)  

     What’s next if history should repeat itself?  Wait for a new group of homeowners (600 yards from the airport property line), who purchase homes without genuine knowledge of the perils of living this close to the airport and industrial businesses, to rise one day and request, nay demand, that the city take legal action against D/FW Airport...regardless of any mitigation clauses contained in their homeowner deeds.  There will buses loaded with shysters lawyers who would be willing to take the case for these buying impaired homeowners.

     As far as the NW Irving Chicken Little Society...RIP, as you are no longer relevant in the city.  Your molted feathers have been collected and used by seven council members to make tush cushions for the sore-bottom developers.

  •   The NW Irving Chicken Little Society consisted of many residents in the NW section of Irving who believed, in the mid-1980s, that with any airport expansion...the sky would fallThe CCR dubbed the group with this moniker after listening to their politically driven rhetoric that once caused a good and fair settlement agreement with D/FW Airport to be shot down.  The courts ultimately ruled against Irving in favor of D/FW Airport.  The only thing that happened to fall out of the sky after all the legal wrangling was completed was the bucks homeowners, in the affected areas, received for mitigation purposes.  Score: Airport 1 (runways), Homeowners 1(mitigation bucks), Tax Payers 0 (for all the legal cost and strife).

……………………...Mark Holbrook