Dallas’ Shingle Mountain rezoning vote delayed; advocates disappointed

Floral Farms residents and environmental justice advocates showed up at the dallas City Plan Commission meeting Thursday expecting to celebrate zoning changes that would help prevent future environmental calamities like the six-story tall Shingle Mountain.

But much to their chagrin, they left without a resolution after the vote was rescheduled for March 21. CPC Chair Tony Shidid said there was a clerical error in the agenda, but that did nothing to quell community members’ dismay.

The city began removing the pile of roofing debris in 2020 and completed its $2 million plan to clean up and remediate soil polluted by Shingle Mountain creator Blue Star Recycling last year in October. The vote by the 15-member commission was to be another step in the right direction.

“I am disappointed because we’ve been working on this for months and now we’ve come up to this point to get ready to vote and then I just find this out,” said Marsha Jackson, whose backyard was next to Shingle Mountain. “I just feel discouraged.”

After the public hearing, District 8 Commissioner Lorie Blair addressed the miscue.

“First I want to apologize to the community that they have to come again,” said Blair. “I know that this has been going on a long time.”

Sixteen speakers had signed up to speak, with 15 in favor of rezoning the southern Dallas area from heavy industrial to agricultural in order to build a community gathering place and a park.

Related:Floral Farm residents want to avoid future environmental injustices in southern Dallas

Currently, the area’s zoning allows “heavy industrial manufacturing” and “industrial research” in a historically agricultural neighborhood. Rezoning to agricultural would impact heavy industrial businesses operating in the area, forcing many to shut up shop.

“Our community — it started with growing greens, then selling them down to the nursery,” Jackson said during the meeting. “But now we are just engulfed in environmental [issues] we continue fighting batch plants constantly.”

They also recommended incorporating single-family homes in a residential district to add an extra layer of protection.

“Staff strived to strike a balance that respects both the residents and business owners with hope that they can co-exist,” senior planner Olga Torres Holyoak said.

District 6 Commissioner Deborah Carpenter wondered if staff recommendations went the distance since the light industrial category still allowed the use of freight terminals, heavy machinery equipment and storage warehouses that were capable of increasing truck traffic and diesel-based emissions.

“Do you understand why I can see this as a baby step that’s an improvement but maybe we didn’t quite get there,” Carpenter said. “Are we consigning them to a future that is still heavily industrial?”

Some of the speakers in favor of the rezoning highlighted Carpenter’s questions.

“Only the continued existence of such racist zoning in the city code allows southern Dallas neighborhoods like Floral Farms to be continual victims of polluters,” said Jim Schermbeck, environmental activist with Downwinders at Risk.

Related:Dallas plans $2 million for Shingle Mountain soil cleanup that may take 2 years

Jackson and advocates like Schermbeck have been at the center of a long battle to remove the metal shingles, which they said risked damaging a nearby creek and were the root cause of the health issues they had been experiencing.

“That’s why this plan is important. It’s the first time southern Dallas residents have said enough is enough,” Schermbeck said.


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