[exasperated] Why bother having rules, then? If a business can get large variances granted for no better reason than they want them?
This evening I attended a neighborhood meeting at the local recreation center concerning the variances that have been requested by Park Cities Bank, a Dallas bank that's purchased some land on Camp Bowie and is building on it. Now that, by itself, is fine. I'm all in favor. You can't have too many banks, I always say.
But Park Cities has bought two adjoining lots on Camp Bowie, with Tremont on the south and Hillcrest on the north. On the Tremont lot is currently a defunct restaurant....it's been one of those sites that has flipped several times, as one would-be restauranteur after another tries to make a go of it there. Once the existing building is gone, it'd provide more than enough room for the building the bank wants to construct.
Unfortunately, Park Cities....did I mention it's a DALLAS company?.....doesn't want to do the reasonable, sensible thing and put their bank on the plot of land that wouldn't require a single, solitary variance. Nope, they're bound and determined to build it on the Hillcrest lot, which is a good bit smaller, and would necessitate three significant variances. My memory's hazy on precisely what the architect said they were asking for, but it seems as if one of them would move the building line from the 40' set-back required by the city code to 20', another would go from 20' to 15' (I think...this one I'm really mentally muddy on), but the most disputed variance requested is the one that would move the actual edifice to within 3' of the sidewalk running along Camp Bowie, from I'm thinking 10' or perhaps it was 15'. Sure not THREE feet, though.
Mind, it's looking to be an attractive establishment; here's an architect's rendering of the proposed bank building:
I don't think the scale is accurate, as this makes the greenspace between Camp Bowie on the far left and the sidewalk to be too wide.
Honestly, what bugs me the most is the only reason provided for building on the smaller site is "increased visibility", meaning it'll be more noticeable to passers-by. That's it. IOW, they think it'll look nicer there. They think they'll stand out more there.
They want it there, basically. Even though the lot partially visible on the right is large enough to have the size building they want plus the three drive-thru lanes without any variances being necessary. That's going to be a doubtless-much-larger-than-needed parking lot.
The zoning will have to be adjusted for the bank to be on the Hillcrest lot, while it doesn't for the Tremont lot. There's a new home just been built to the immediate south of the proposed bank, and mercy Maud, was the owner of that house frosted. He bought his lot in May, and the bank bought the lot next to him the following month. Apparently he was quite taken aback to discover there's now going to be a bank building right next door. On the Tremont side the houses next to the lot have been rezoned for light commercial, and have an attorney and a veterinarian in them, for instance. No worries having a bank next to them!
But Park Cities doesn't want to be across from the 7-11 and next to the attorney's office....they want to be shoved up right next to Camp Bowie, and alongside and directly across from residences.
Personally, I don't think "Just 'cause we want it" is a sufficient reason for the city, via the Board of Adjustments, to grant the requested variances. Heck, I want a pony, but I'm gonna have to do without. Welcome to life. If variances like this are given simply because it suits the sensibilities of Park Cities, then I'm at a loss as to why bother have the restrictions and set-back allowances at all. If the only reason someone can give as to why they should be permitted to ignore the rules is because they want to, there isn't much point having the rules.