Dallas

Dallas Imposes Settlement on Feuding Aldredge House Neighbors

Deal to end wild parties includes City Council review in 3 years

After three years of feuding among wealthy Swiss Avenue neighbors over wild parties at the historic Aldredge House, the Dallas City Council imposed a settlement Wednesday that still left some people upset.

"I'm not satisfied," said Dr. Robert Gunby, president of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, which has owned the house since 1974.

The auxiliary group for the medical community has operated the 100-year-old Aldredge House as a headquarters and meeting place.

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Several years ago the Alliance began renting the house for wedding receptions to help raise maintenance money.

Neighbors complained the receptions ran late into the night with noise and traffic. In 2015, neighbors also discovered signatures they claim were forged by a vendor on party tent permit applications to the city.

The Alliance denied any involvement with forgery and said it stopped the wild parties two years ago.

But the dispute spun into a bitter fight among wealthy neighbors in the Swiss Avenue Historic District that wound through several layers of city government the past two years over possible restrictions.

"It's a huge victory for the Swiss Avenue neighborhood and really neighborhoods throughout Dallas," neighbor David Dean said about Wednesday's City Council vote.

The council approved Special Use Permit zoning for the property with last-minute restrictions added by neighborhood City Councilman Philip Kingston to limit use of the house to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with only 36 exceptions a year for use until 10 p.m.

"That's limiting, so we can't even meet after hours, after work, in the afternoon. So I'm very dissatisfied with that," Gunby said.

The SUP expires in three years when City Council review will be required to extend it or revoke it.

"There's accountability. Trust but verify. That's essential to any binding agreement that lasts long," Dean said. "We've committed to the Aldredge House owners, the DCMSA that we will work with them in good faith."

It was a unanimous Dallas City Council vote to approve the final deal.

Dean said a very large crowd of people in the City Council Chamber for the issue, some wearing red in support of the SUP and others wearing green in support of the Aldredge House, showed the City Council there was agreement.

"It's a red-letter day for Dallas, a red-letter day for historic preservation quite frankly," Dean said.

Medical Society Alliance leaders were less enthusiastic.

"Both sides didn't get everything they wanted, so it seems like it's a pretty good compromise," said Aldredge House representative Robert Baldwin.

Gunby said the Medical Society Alliance intends to operate the house now as a museum with displays about the history of the property and the medical community in Dallas. He said volunteers are planning raise money to operate it in other ways to comply with the new rules.

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