Meeting on Proposed Changes to Lower Greenville

Lower Greenville residents, business owners, and property owners are invited to attend a public meeting to learn about a proposal to require Lower Greenville businesses that want to stay open past midnight to get a special permit from the city. The meeting will take place on July 29 at 7pm at Vickery Towers (Belmont at Greenville). In the meantime, you can see a DRAFT version of the proposed zoning ordinance.

Here are some FAQs about the proposal:

What is being proposed for Lower Greenville?
There is an imbalance of businesses on Lower Greenville: too few restaurants, neighborhood pubs, and retailers that are open during the day and evening and too many bars that are open only late at night. While this might not be a problem in a more commercial area, the strip of businesses on Lower Greenville is surrounded by neighborhoods. Nearby residents bear the brunt of the crime, noise, traffic, littering, and other problems that this over-saturation of bars brings to their neighborhood. Moreover, significant taxpayer dollars and city resources are expended to keep the area safe and under control late at night.

The legal processes the city has at its disposal to address this imbalance of businesses is not enough to fix the problem. When the city is successful in auditing a bar and persuading a court to close it down, another bar just takes its place. This piecemeal approach to enforcement is never going to fix Lowest Greenville.

To comprehensively address this problem, Councilmembers Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano are proposing that Lower Greenville businesses that want to stay open past midnight be required to get a special permit from the city. This “specific use permit” or “SUP” would be required for any business operating after midnight, regardless of the type of business – it would apply equally to bars, restaurants, shoe shops, drycleaners and any other businesses.

The permit can be granted for several years for known businesses that haven’t caused problems, or it can be granted on an annual basis for those businesses that are new, unknown quantities. Or it can be denied for businesses that cause problems weekend after weekend. And even those bad operators won’t have to shut down entirely; they’ll just have to close their doors at midnight. We believe this will bring some balance back to Lowest Greenville and encourage a better quality and mix of businesses.

Are you trying to shut down Lower Greenville at midnight and close all the bars?
No! The goal is simply to bring some balance back to Lower Greenville and reduce the impact of businesses that operate late at night, not close down all bars or eliminate all nightlife.

There are a number of businesses – The Libertine, Winedale Tavern, and Taco Cabana to name a few – that are open past midnight that don’t pose any problem at all and have proven themselves to be good neighbors. These businesses are assets to the surrounding neighborhoods and they won’t have any problems obtaining long-term permits to operate after midnight.

Unfortunately there are other businesses that overburden the surrounding neighborhood by bringing crime, noise, traffic and other problems to our residents. Such businesses may be granted a permit only for a short duration or denied a permit to operate after midnight. But it is important to remember that even if bad operators are denied permits to operate after midnight, they aren’t being closed down – they can still operate until midnight without any special permit.

Why is midnight the cut-off?
The Dallas Police Department has confirmed that most of the problems on Lower Greenville – particularly violent crime, alcohol-related offenses, assaults, crowd control – primarily occur after midnight. While some community leaders suggested an earlier cut-off time, midnight seemed like a good compromise.

What area would be covered by this proposal?
The commercial properties on Lower Greenville between Belmont and Bryan.

What’s the process for creating this new permit requirement?
To require a special permit for businesses open past midnight on Lower Greenville, the city must create a new zoning district for the area – a “Planned Development District” or “PD.” Creating a new Planned Development District requires a hearing in front of the city plan commission where the public can weigh in on the proposal. The plan commission makes a recommendation to the city council, which holds another public hearing and votes on the matter. Once the matter is voted on by the city council, it becomes law.

What is the application process for a specific use permit?
Businesses wanting to operate after midnight would fill out an SUP application and pay a permit fee to the city. Each application is considered on an individual basis by the city plan commission (which holds a public hearing) then a final determination is made by the city council, which holds another public hearing. The permit can be granted for one year or several years, depending on the business and its history.

What criteria is considered in granting or denying a specific use permit?
The city evaluates each SUP application for its probable effect on the adjacent property and the community welfare. Dallas City Code provides the following criteria to analyze requests for specific use permits:

51A-4.219 (3) The city council shall not grant an SUP for a use except upon a finding that the use will:
(A) complement or be compatible with the surrounding uses and community facilities;
(B) contribute to, enhance, or promote the welfare of the area of request and adjacent properties;
(C) not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or general welfare; and
(D) conform in all other respects to all zoning regulations and standards.
(4) The granting of an SUP has no effect on the uses permitted as of right and does not waive the regulations of the underlying zoning district.

What other changes are envisioned for Lower Greenville?
If this permit requirement is implemented, the city councilmembers for the area, Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano, are committed to helping clean up and beautify Lower Greenville using funds from the city’s next bond program. The effort could include significant streetscape improvements such as street resurfacing; narrowing the street (to match the width north of Belmont); creating wider sidewalks; planting street trees; installing antique lighting with matching trash bins and benches; and improved pedestrian crosswalks.