Good evening neighbors,
I hope that everyone had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. My week is off to a busy start.
At some point I’m sure everyone has heard the rumor about the Poker Room coming into the former YouFit space at Briargrove and Dallas Parkway. Unfortunately, it appears to now be a reality. Those of us who have been watching this site for a while have noted updated permitting information on Dallas' permitting software that show "52 Social" is the name of the business going in the site. 52 of course being the number of cards in a deck.
As you may recall in January, the rumor spread about a "Poker Room" going in the former YouFit. Several neighbors naturally did some zoning research and by reading the code as-is, felt confident that the use would require an Special Use Permit (SUP) to proceed. Though I was not on the board at the time, I was able to be a part of the conversation, and after a cursory glance I agreed.
At some point not long thereafter some discussion was had among Bill Hoyt, Bob Treat and City Staff, which led us to reevaluate the SUP argument. After some research myself, I realized that a poker room could in fact be allowed by right. The short story is when the City of Dallas approved a permit for a Poker Room site back in 2020 down on Harry Hines, it set into motion some precedents regarding land uses that ultimately could allow these Poker Rooms just about anywhere in the city. Volunteers would not have readily known this information in January with how the code reads. If you would like to learn more specifically about how zoning played a role into allowing a poker room at this site, please see my "analysis" at the following link. https://www.btwdallas.org/editor_upload/File/Poker%20Room%20Analysis.pdf
At that time no actions had been performed at the site, no permits had been pulled, and counter rumors were heard that the tenants looking at the site had moved on. With this in mind, it was still decided that several of us as well as some Bent Tree North residents should get with Cara Mendelsohn immediately and ask for a review of zoning code to better define where Poker Rooms could operate. Cara agreed this was a big issue, and things were really quiet at the site for a couple of months, and we were hoping that a zoning amendment could occur in time before something did in fact come along.
Though the topic of poker rooms will soon be taken up by the Plan Commission to determine how they should be better regulated in the city, it's not going to be in time to keep one out of our area. 52 Social has already begun pulling permits at the former YouFit site. Apparently they submitted permits as early as March, though permitting software did not reflect this until recently.
I want to specifically recognized Bob Treat's work in ensuring that permitting is transparent for this site. He is doing great work in keeping the city on it's toes and has spent copious amounts of time to assist in these efforts and document their process to keep them on the level, including photographing the site. I know that he and others involved will make sure that the city will be enforcing development standards, enhancing permitting transparency, and ensuring future safety for the site. There are still some lingering questions about parking minimums that we are seeking answers for.
And of course, the big question is the true legality of these poker rooms since state law is being muddled. Some counties have taken up cases against them in the past: https://blog.texasbar.com/2020/02/articles/guest-blog/hold-em-or-fold-em-policing-texas-poker-rooms-for-profit/ Our Attorney General has not offered an interpretation though asked repeatedly: https://www.khou.com/article/news/politics/texas-ag-declines-opinion-on-legality-of-poker-clubs/285-572145705
ACTION REQUESTED! Please email our D12 Plan Commissioner Kristine Schwope at email@example.com and Cara Mendelsohn at Cara.Mendelsohn@dallascityhall.com no later than Wednesday evening if you are opposed to poker rooms operating near residential neighborhoods. The issue will be brought up at this Thursday's Plan Commission meeting and though any change is unlikely to keep them out of our area, the city needs to know if we are opposed.
Secondly, Cara Mendelsohn as well as city staff will be present at the June 8th Board Meeting to discuss the matter and how we got here. The notice of meeting and Zoom link will go out Wednesday evening.
I want you to know that this issue has weighed heavily on those of us watching this site and working to find a potential way to stop it before it got here, and I wanted to let you know that the HOA hasn't been sitting on its hands. I am happy to answer your questions you have as best I can, but please understand what I've laid out here is about all I know. If I learn any more info about the site and any further progress made, I will be sure to let you know.
BTW HOA President