Homeowners, Business Fight to Keep Land

DISD buying up properties to build new elementary school

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    The Dallas ISD offered to buy Pat Berry's 58-year-old business, Vickery Wholesale Greenhouse, for $630,000.

    Some Jubilee Park residents say they're not willing to give way for a new elementary school.

    The Dallas Independent School District is planning to tear down O.M. Roberts Elementary School and build a new one. But to do it, the district needs the land that several residents live on.

    Residents Fight for Their Property in DISD Land Buy Out

    [DFW] Residents Fight for Their Property in DISD Land Buy Out
    O.M. Roberts Elementary needs to expand, but residents and business owners in the Jubilee Park community of Dallas say they're being unfairly forced out of their homes and they're not giving up their property without a fight.

    The district has already bought 60 percent of the properties, said DISD spokeswoman Sandra Guerrero. But a few residents and at least one business are holding out for better offers.

    The Dallas ISD offered to buy Pat Berry's 58-year-old business, Vickery Wholesale Greenhouse, for $630,000.

    But Berry estimates it would take at least $4 million to purchase and rebuild his unique greenhouse. The $630,000 offer would force him to close the business, lay off his 24 employees and file bankruptcy, he said.

    "It's the hardest thing I've ever dealt with in my life," Berry said. "Not only am I trying to protect myself, I'm trying to protect my employees, a lot of whom came from this neighborhood, and my customers. I've got lots of customers who bought from me for years and years and years, and they're in the same boat; they don't know what's going to happen."

    His greenhouse services thousands of flower shops in North and Central Texas. Without it, thousands of flower shops could be forced to pay more for flowers from greenhouses that further away or be forced to shut down.

    Berry is hiring an eminent domain lawyer and taking the matter to court.

    Homeowners who thought they would live in Jubilee Park for the rest of their lives are now house-hunting in the midst of their retirement.

    "Now we're having to scramble to find a place to live and get money to leave," resident Lisa Mason.

    She said many residents are elderly and on a fixed income and can't afford to move.

    "We are offering home owners the market value for their homes, as required from us by federal law," Guerrero said. "If those homeowners would like to request an appraisal from the county and present us with that information, we will offer them the dollar amount that their homes are valued for in the market, if that dollar amount in higher than what we have already offered."

    Residents say they are being pressed to sell by May, even though the DISD doesn't plan to start building until 2012.