Enforcement committee crawls back into sewer, does not file against 5902 Goliad home

After nearly six months of harassment, intimidation, threats of legal action and two contentious Board of Adjustment hearings, the so-called Belmont Addition Conservation District enforcement committee has decided to crawl back into whatever sewer it came out of and has not filed any legal actions against the City of Dallas or the owners of the home at 5902 Goliad Avenue.

The Board voted 3-2 on February 21 to uphold the decision by City Staff to issue a building permit for the house (under construction since December 2012) despite the claims of BACD's Melissa Kingston that the home did not meet the intent of the CD's design specifications. In order to continue the protest, the committee was required to file a lawsuit against the City of Dallas within ten days of that decision; that deadline passed last Monday, but to make sure the legal beast was dead, BD and others added four more days to count for the intervening weekends before declaring the fight officially over.

The February hearing was preceded by a December hearing, wherein the Board punted the decision for two months, telling the homeowners and committee to work things out. Just a day later, the committee issued a not-so veiled threat of legal action against the homeowners if they did not agree to major design changes. In an email sent on December 15th, Melissa Kingston wrote -

Thank you for reaching out to us in an attempt to find a mutually satisfactory resolution of our dispute. We would very much like to reach a resolution with you and put an end to this dispute and avoid future litigation over this matter. I am sure you feel the same way.

BelmontAddition - Threat of litigation over 5902 Goliad by AviAdelman

After getting no satisfaction, members of the committee filed more complaints against the property with Building Inspection, claiming it was taller than the building plans claimed, which made it taller than permitted in the CD. They emailed photos taken by an unknown person, showing hands belonging to an unknown person, measuring portions of the structure while clearly standing on the property. Without permission.

The homeowner promptly sent an email to Melissa Kingston, warning of legal consequences...

During the hearing, Melissa Kingston complained to the panel this email was the homeowners' only effort to settle the issue, clearly ignoring the fact someone from the committee crossed the (property) line. In the end, the City's top building inspectors determined the house was in fact about two inches shorter than the plans allowed and did not red-tag the construction.

She also made a point of referring to the 12 neighbors who were at the hearing, and the 15 persons who attended the December hearing. At that time, she stood up and claimed her side was better because (not a direct quote) neighbors supporting the BACD took time off from work to come to the hearing, while people supporting the homeowners only had enough interest to sign a petition of support. She also claimed the petition was a collection of poorly written documents, failing to mention these documents were actually all part of the City record approving the construction plans.

BD has already heard rumors about homebuilders who were wary of bringing unique but legal home designs now making plans to build homes in the area, ready to challenge the false authority of this so-called enforcement committee. Dallas.org blogger Allen Gwinn raised questions about the legality of the committee's actions in his story - BULLIES - The Story of a SLAPP Suit Gone Wild -

Kingston claims to be the chair of something called the "ordinance enforcement committee" of the Belmont Addition Conservation District--whatever that is.

We haven't been able to find anything in the ordinance, establishing that committee nor any organization. Perhaps it's there and we just missed it.

Nevertheless, the organization has a website and claims to have officers and committees.

The website claims they were founded in 1893, but the ordinance only came about in 2004.

They have sued people in District Court, under the name "Belmont Addition Conservation District."

They've made agreements with others under the name "Belmont Addition Conservation District.

We've been unable to locate articles of incorporation, nor a taxpayer ID (or anything of the sort) for any Belmont Addition Conservation District.

The question remains: what official act established this organization and what gives them the power to do what they do?

How do they get their money?

We have questions in to several people at the City, County and State in hopes of answering this question.

Melissa Kingston is married to Philip Kingston, described in court proceedings as an "unemployed stay-at-home-lawyer." We don't know his employment status but Melissa insists he "works" from home.

Philip is also a candidate for Dallas City Council.

Philip Kingston was the attorney of record (meaning he filed the lawsuit) for the Belmont Addition Conservation District lawsuit we reported about previously.

Zoning / Board of Adjustment cases do not set a precedent for future decisions, so the BDA vote cannot be used to approve in advance the construction of similar homes. But the beatdown of the committee by the homeowners and City Staff should give pause to any efforts to arbitrarily bully their opinions on others.

By Avi S. Adelman under Elections , Legal issues