Dallas County Commissioners See through the Smokescreen

Yesterday at Dallas County Commissioner’s Court, the commissioners voted 3-2 to not fund their portion of the Inland Port Plan.

While I agree that there should be some sort of plan in place, I disagree that the county should have majority control in creating and enforcing it.

It’s not about being against plans for a given area; I do support proper area planning. On the City Plan Commission I chair a committee whose main function is to facilitate the planning process for more than 20 neighborhoods associated with the Trinity River Project. I also chaired the CPC’s ad hoc committee for the City’s Form-Based Zoning Plan, which is now the subject of much debate. But this “planning” effort coming from the County, and Price in particular, smelled like something totally different.

The whole thing smelled like a power grab from the beginning, under the guise of efficiently planning the area. According to the article, The Allen Group has already spent more than $6 million in infrastructure, engineering , and other studies. They also are a proven entity, having done this type of development in California with a high degree of success.

The neighboring cities, Wilmer and Hutchins, didn’t want the county running the plan. I’m not the biggest fan of the Allen Group either, so I’m really trying to look at this issue in an objective manner.

Why do I call it a power grab? Because it was reported in a news story in June that the City of Hutchins actually applied for and received the $290,000 in question via a grant from NCTCOG. The article says it was diverted to the county. Price retorts in that article that Hutchins would only have to pay $1,000 for their portion of the new plan, but doesn’t address what happened to the grant.

This issue is very similar to what has Price has tried to do over the years in southern Dallas. If history is any predictor of future behavior, the smaller surrounding cities would have zero input on this plan.

The grab is strikingly similar to the construction of a bridge that Price tried to block in Hutchins. Trains would block ambulances from servicing the residents at times of emergency, but fortunately Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson made sure that it was built.

The piece of big news that is somewhat lost in this issue is Judge Jim Foster actually stepped up and voted against Price. To which Foster received a threat from Price that there would be a new county judge within two years. REALLY? Really? No duh. Getting a new county judge has nothing to do with Price – there was going to be a new judge anyway. A lot of capable people will be running.

So now that the county is not part of the plan, will Hutchins actually get their $290,000? Only time will tell.

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