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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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University Park’s Snider Plaza Development Faces Zoning Disputes

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The fountain of Snider Plaza. | Image form Retail Street Advisors

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In early October 2021, Dallas County District Judge Aisha Redmond granted a temporary restraining order against developers to protect the “village-like” characteristics of the City of University Park, Texas.

When developers began looking to redevelop a local shopping center, the city council approved zoning changes to allow the redevelopment of Snider Plaza. However, in opposition to the development, the Snider Plaza Alliance took action.   

The Alliance filed a lawsuit seeking court intervention to prevent developer Jim Strode from building his proposed office tower at 6600 Snider Plaza. The request for a temporary restraining order was granted after the Alliance alleged in the suit that the office tower would “shatter the area’s village character and impose a substantial traffic and parking burden.”

Plaintiffs further allege that these changes would harm pre-existing and long-standing businesses.  

According to the University Park City Council minutes from the meeting in which Strode proposed his development, the plan for the office tower would call for the removal of existing structures to make space for a three-story building to contain office, retail, and restaurant space.

In the City Council meeting, Mr. Strode defended his building plans, stating that he was not asking for zoning changes, only site plan approval. He further defended his proposal, saying that his new building would not hurt the parking or other businesses in the area.   

Mayor Pro Tem Randy Biddle of University Park expressed during the heated debates concerning 6600 Snider Plaza that while he remembers the plaza from his childhood, the area has already seen a lot of change and that the new office tower could be an additional positive change.

Mayor Stewart also defended the development by Strode, stating that, while understanding that parking for the office tower is a concern for other businesses and community members, Mr. Strode’s proposed plans would be “totally within the criteria for building in Snider Plaza.”  

The Alliance lawsuit further pushed back against the City Council, claiming they had approved zoning changes that made the office tower possible without due process. Alliance members claim that the new zoning would allow Strode to avoid compliance with the city plans, which leaders wrote to prevent similar unfair burdens on traffic, parking, and business for the existing establishments in the area.

The City’s alleged failure to give proper notice regarding the zoning changes led the Alliance to push for the court to grant injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment against the improper underlying zoning.   

The Snider Plaza Alliance told Dallas Express, “By filing the lawsuit and securing the temporary restraining order, the Alliance has protected Snider Plaza from a developer who would cause a parking nightmare and the city officials who approved this despite its clear zoning violations. The Alliance wants University Park to live up to its obligations and maintain the village character of Snider Plaza, and wants developers to comply with rather than skirt the rules.”

The community comprises concerned citizens, area homeowners, and business community members who claim their suit is pushing back against bent rules and developments that would hurt or hinder the existing way of life in Snider Plaza.  

The temporary restraining order granted by Judge Redmond will prevent the new office tower from being built, for now.

The Alliance took to Facebook to explain the urgency of their lawsuit, “Snider Plaza Alliance is a community organization committed to keeping Snider Plaza a neighborhood friendly area with development that meets the zoning standards established by the City of University Park.”

The founding member and leader of the Alliance, Matt Dixon, raised his concern regarding the rezoning impact on the neighborhood feel of the area to the City Council. Mr. Dixon is the owner of multi-family dwellings within walking distance of Snider Plaza.   

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