New Texas Law May Reduce Dallas Residents’ Rights in Zoning Disputes

A new Texas law, SB 929, could change Dallas’ amortization process, restricting residents’ ability to challenge nonconforming property uses and potentially risking taxpayer funds.

A recent state law is prompting changes to a process that has long allowed Dallas residents to protect their neighborhoods. Today, the City Plan Commission will review proposed amendments to the amortization process, a tool used to eliminate nonconforming property uses.

Amortization has enabled residents like Janie Cisneros to challenge properties like the GAF asphalt shingle factory in West Dallas, which does not conform to current zoning laws. Through this process, residents could request the Dallas Board of Adjustment to set a compliance date for nonconforming uses to cease.

However, Senate Bill 929 now mandates that municipalities compensate property owners if their nonconforming use is terminated through amortization, potentially exposing taxpayer funds to significant risk. In response, Dallas is considering restricting who can file for amortization, limiting this right to the City Council member of the district involved.

Despite these proposed changes, there may still be hope for residents. The Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee recommended adding a process for residents to petition the City Council to authorize an amortization request. This adjustment aims to balance resident involvement with legal and financial protections.

Currently, Dallas has paused accepting applications for establishing compliance dates, leading Cisneros to sue the city after her applications were twice denied. As the city debates these changes, the outcome will significantly impact how residents can address nonconforming uses in their communities.


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