How much cruelty is needed to protect a neighborhood?

We all know that developers are greedy, faceless monsters who prey on communities, with two goals in mind: make umpteen millions of dollars while bulldozing every last breath of character from peaceful neighborhoods.

So let’s take a look at one peaceful neighborhood, that under the cloak of “protecting quality of life”, is exerting remarkable cruelty — against its own neighbors.

The Rezoning of 8528 Burnet Road

This story starts with the rezoning of a property on Burnet Road. It’s currently zoned General Commercial Services (CS), which means a developer could build a 60 foot building right now, with no debate. CS also allows a wide variety of uses, including kennels, hotels, car dealership, restaurant or professional offices.

8528 Burnet Road

Partial view of 8528 Burnet Road

The current owners of the property, Robert Crump and Charles Gordon, have applied for MF-6 zoning, so the developer can build an apartment building, with approximately 300 units 225 units [updated after reviewing the council tape]. MF-6 is the largest multi-family zoning, but this is considered a downzoning, because residential is a less intensive than commercial uses. In fact, under MF-6, the building could be 90 feet tall, but the developer has chosen to limit the height to 60 feet, the same as currently zoned, presumably to show good faith to the neighborhood.

But the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association, led by Kevin Wier, is fighting this development.

“You can be a good neighbor only if you have good neighbors”

Mr. Wier’s opposition appears to be centered on the developer. Is that because focusing his opposition on the current owners would require him to face the cruelty his opposition is thrusting on his neighbors?

The developer can’t build anything until the property is sold. The owners can’t sell to this buyer without the rezoning. Therefore, Mr. Wier is actively obstructing the sale of the property by Mr. Crump and Mr. Gordon. Why are the selling? How about we let Mr. and Mrs. Gordon share their story, at 6:18 in the video:

Mr. Gordon says that “he has to sell out, but what they are proposing is probably the best product for the neighborhood.” Mrs. Gordon adds that Gordon Automotive is a family-owned business for almost 50 years, with some employees who have been with them for 25 years.

Mr. Gordon and Mr. Crump are selling so they can retire. They have seen their property taxes go from $20,000 to $43,000 per year, just over the past 10 years.

“How do you think think that made us feel, when we are fighting for our retirement,” asks Mrs. Gordon. “We’ve worked for over 50 years, and we are ready to retire. And what are you doing for us? We’ve helped you, for 50 years.”

Apparently, that’s not a good enough reason for Mr. Wier. A longstanding business, with long-term employees apparently isn’t a good enough neighbor for Mr. Wier. In order to protect the neighborhood, he is leading the charge, inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering, against a 50-year old neighborhood business, and the very real neighbors behind it.

That is indefensible.