Joppee Residents Seek Assurances Before Council Votes on Industrial Site Expansion

A proposal from Union Pacific to increase activity at a 75-acre industrial site near the South Dallas community of Joppee is gaining traction with some residents.

"If the people of Joppee want to see the advancement they say they want, I think they have to realize you can't do it by yourself." said Raven-Ariel Jackson, a fourth-generation Joppee resident.

The proposal includes the construction of two concrete batching plants and a request to reduce the number of zoning districts at the site from three to one by creating a new Planned Development District.

A Union Pacific spokesman told NBC 5 that having the site governed by one cohesive set of development regulations would allow Union Pacific to lure in future businesses, that could potentially provide jobs and much-needed economic growth in the area.

Despite potentially having to live next to an even busier industrial area for the next ten to twenty years, some residents have been sold on the plan based on the potential for more jobs and neighborhood improvements.

"If you want (economic development)...then I think you would accept that. And as long they make good on their promises in bringing jobs here, I'm all for it," Jackson said.

But promises have been broken in Joppee before, so residents are hoping to get something in writing before next week's vote.

"Make sure that they do what they say they're going to do. There have been moments that we've been promised different things, but it hasn't come to pass. Hopefully we can get it in writing."

The CEO of Dallas-Area Habitat for Humanity Wednesday called for a similar agreement to be made.

"In three weeks we're going to have 3,000 people out there building 14 homes in a community we just finished developing, building a road and everything else, so we are concerned," said Bill Hall. "In our opinion nothing should be voted on until there is a signed agreement between the neighborhood and the other organizations, and if there isn't one we, at that point in time, would probably only speak up to have (the vote) delayed until there is time to do something."

The proposal includes a number of regulations related to maintenance and operation of the site, including dust control, landscaping, and installing natural buffers to mitigate residents' concerns over quality of life issues.

Hall wants to ensure Union Pacific and the neighborhood hold each other accountable. Union Pacific said it's willing to sit down and talk with Joppee residents and Habitat for Humanity to discuss an agreement, but no formal plans have been made to craft a binding agreement before the vote.

"What we're trying to do is make sure everyone understands what's there at the end of the day. If the neighborhood wants the plant we want the plant," Hall said. "You need some accountability, you need to have what each side said they would do to make this work, to get it to work, to have an economic engine in South Dallas."

To see the proposal click here.

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