The controversial development at 1717 Bissonnet St. has cleared six of seven departmental reviews, but still lacks clearance from Public Works and Engineering’s traffic section, which last rejected plans June 24.
In the comments section of the most recent denial, Public Works representatives asked for supporting documentation concerning “peak-hour turning movements” and suggested a pull-through loading area, rather than having trucks back onto Bissonnet.
The developers have cited another project not far from their location that uses a configuration similar to theirs. According to the developers, the Fairmont Museum District at 4310 Dunlavy St. does not have a pull-through loading dock.
Whether this is true or not is really an irrelevant issue. The City of Houston has made it clear that it will do everything it can to stop the Ashby High Rise.
The city recently said it will rely heavily on guidelines from an ordinance concerning the connection of driveways into public streets as the method of controlling traffic congestion, rather than continuing work on an ordinance to limit the size of high-density developments.
Those guidelines date back to 1947, and — according to city records — have never been cited in either approving or denying any building permit.
In other words, the city is going to rely on a 61-year-old law that has apparently never been enforced. Why are they starting now?
But a more fundamental issue is the fact that such a law even exists. What purpose is served by having a law that has never been enforced? Apparently the issues addressed by the law have never arisen, in which case we must question why the law was written. That City Hall has chosen to selectively enforce it now, when its attempts to draft new legislation specifically aimed at Buckhead failed, raises some serious questions about motives.
This is the very nature of non-objective laws-- they are subject to a wide variety of interpretations, and those interpretations ultimately determine their application. Combine that with political pressure from constituents and you get the type of selective enforcement we are witnessing in regard to the Ashby High Rise.
The treatment of Buckhead Investments should be insulting to anyone who values the rule of law. City Hall is blatantly and openly resorting to strong arm tactics to kill the project. If Houstonians allow such an atrocity to continue, the ultimate devastation will be much worse than that wrought by Hurricane Ike. Ike destroyed our property; granting such powers to City Hall will destroy our property rights.