The fight over the apartment complex at the intersection of Kingsley and Plano is a case study in how to manipulate City government and the courts, but also how a neighborhood’s hard work can pay off. The following is a brief chronology of the fight that neighbors in that area experienced during the past four years.
In February 1990, the apartments on the south side of Kingsley were vacated and boarded up. Neighbors complained to the north side property manager about weeds, litter, rats, vagrants and a swimming pool filled with stagnant water and trash that was an eminent threat to neighborhood children.
The manager’s response was that those units had been sold and the new owner was not known.
Neighbors contacted the City, and the City forced the owners to fence the property and provide on-site security.
City code inspectors examined the property and issued notices of violations to the owner. The estimated cost to repair the property and bring it into compliance with City code was more than $1 million.
Over the next several months, the owners ignored persistent contacts from the City, and inspectors referred the case to the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board (URSB).
Finally, in November 1990, the URSB heard the case and gave the owners 120 days to renovate the property. If repairs were not made, a demolition order would be entered. However, the URSB was unaware at the time they issued the repair order that the units had been vacant for more than six months, and the owner had lost his right to the apartment use on that property.
In March 1991, the owners asked the Board of Adjustment to reinstate their rights to apartment users on that land. The Board of Adjustment refuses to take action and instructed the owner, National Income Realty Trust to apply for rezoning.
The owners applied for rezoning and the Council denied their request on a 10-1 vote in the fall of 1991.
Following Council action, the community petitioned the Board of Adjustment for termination of the use on the north side of Kingsley, and the Board instructed the owners to vacate the property by December 1992.
The owners filed appeals in State Court that were summarily dismissed. Similar appeals in Federal Court were dismissed with the Federal Court stating it had no jurisdiction in the case.
Not yet willing to accept the ruling of the Board of Adjustment, the owners petitioned federal Judge Jerry Buchmeyer to grant them intervenor status in the Walker Housing Suit. In January of this year, the judge ruled they had no standing in the case and refused to grant an injunction blocking the demolition of the units on the South side.
It almost looked like we were going to have to start over because the owners had filed an application to rezone this property for multi-family uses, but withdrew their application in February. If National Income Realty Trust had not withdrawn, it would have caused another round of public hearings and the neighborhood’s fight would have continued.
Once more, persistent neighborhood organizations have proven they can positively impact their communities. Congratulations!