Council Votes 4-3 for Eminent Domain

Council_ONLINE

Duncanville citizens fill council chamber during Monday, June 24th Town Hall / Workshop / Special Meeting.

DUNCANVILLE, TX – During a Special Meeting on Monday, June 24th, and after years of political wrangling, the Duncanville City Council voted 4-3 to allow Dallas County to commence eminent domain proceedings on the Dotson family homestead in order to move Wintergreen Rd. Currently that stretch of road is in DeSoto connecting Cockrell Hill and Cedar Hill’s Duncanville Rd.
This Special Meeting featured a presentation by the County on the road project and the county’s eminent domain procedure. The presentation was followed immediately by a vote on the County/City eminent domain contract .
Mayor Hodge expressed concern in voting on a contract without the benefit of discussing it with the city attorney. A substitute city attorney was present. She pointed out the fallacies of the safety issues, saying that all these will be solved by widening the road and putting in left hand turn signals. She also pointed out the very low traffic count on the road and that the projected traffic count in 2025 is substantially low. She went on to assert that the amount of money being proposed for the project is excessive and unnecessary.
Councilmember Jones spoke about a family’s home being sacred, treasured not for its financial worth but for its memories and could not support this effort in destroying a family’s home.
Councilmember Harvey waved a copy of the Suburban Newspaper wherein he is quoted as being in support for this project while running for office. He announced that this is a reason why he was elected and the citizens expect his support. He was booed and hissed when he exclaimed, “I don’t really care, because it doesn’t cost us anything.”
Councilmember Jameson requested the opportunity to file a minority report with the County in order to express the fact that this is a highly contentious issue and does not enjoy the support of the full council.
Councilmember Smith stated safety issues were his reason to vote for the project and showed a photo of a car in the creek on the Cedar Hill side of the road.
Councilmember Cooks said the primary reason to support this was to show the city’s commitment to the regional partnership.
Councilmember Boyd said nothing but voted in favor of the project.
Mrs. Dotson, the mother of besieged Dr. Dotson, expressed dismay during the break about a comment that Councilmember Boyd said to her son after the last meeting. Councilmember Boyd reportedly comforted Dr. Dotson with the words, “I’m on your side.” They took that as a commitment of support and are greatly disappointed. When contacted by this newspaper, Councilmember Boyd stated he talked to Dr. Dotson about being on the hospital board from 1986-1995, but did not make any statement of support.
The public hearing on the eminent domain contract with the county was held three and one-half hours later at 11:30 pm. Three citizens remained and one spoke during the hearing. When asked why the hearing was placed at the end of the agenda Mayor Hodge stated it was originally placed after the county presentation by the city attorney. Councilmember Mark Cooks said he “forced” the public hearing down to the end of the agenda.
Councilmember Boyd stated that he was not concerned about the public hearing since there was one at the last meeting. Councilmember Jameson expressed disbelief at the move and pointed out she, the Mayor, and Councilmember Jones were at the 5:30 Town Hall Meeting so they could hear the concerns of citizens.
Councilmember Smith agreed that the public hearing should have been before the vote on the contract and expressed regret that it was moved down the agenda.
Mayor Hodge stated the Town Hall Meeting was scheduled at 5:30, just before the special meeting, to mitigate the public hearing being moved to the bottom of the agenda. Procedures on how to do a referendum and recall elections were discussed at the Town Hall Meeting.