A group striving to prevent a Sam's Club from being built in their East Dallas neighborhood scored a small but encouraging victory on July 11 when a Dallas County judge granted a temporary hearing order against the construction.
Issued by Judge Emily Tobolowsky, the restraining order throws a small wrench into the works of the plans by developer Trammell Crow Co. to open a Sam's Club behind Cityplace.
The East Village Association sought the TRO to protest what they described as the misrepresentation by Trammell Crow Co., whose original plans cast the Cityplace project as a pedestrian-friendly complex of restaurants and shops.
Organizer Jonas Park and his colleagues say the process was fast-tracked through the planning commission in a stealthy manner. The group has been engaged in a David-versus-Goliath struggle since they found out what Trammell Crow had planned.
On Thursday, they were dealt a blow when the Dallas Plan Commission gave its approval to Trammel Crow Co. to move forward with permitting and construction.
Steven Ray, who attended the hearing on Friday, said that it was reassuring that someone was able to see that the neighborhood group had valid complaints.
"So far, it's been heartbreaking because, to the citizens of this part of the community, it's obvious that there are some issues," Ray said. "Despite what Trammell Crow may say, the bait and switch from a development to a Sam's Club seems pretty clear."
The association will now seek an injunction to postpone further progress until they can contest the zoning in trial.
Ray said that the determination of the neighbors and supporters have helped combat some insurmountable odds.
"When you're facing a $2-billion-dollar company with endless resources for legal fees, it's scary," he said. "When you see the six to eight attorneys and their entire team on their side, and you know that this is what they do, they stomp down these types of things. Seeing that finally, unlike the City Planning Commission, a judge had a bit of common sense and saw that the people of the community clearly weren't notified, it's gratifying."