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City Council hears recommendations from Stockyards Task Force

🕐 3 min read

After a Fort Worth City Council-appointed task force voted to approve a document outlining the standards and guidelines for Stockyards redevelopment, city staff who worked with the task force presented to the City Council on Tuesday, asking the council to make zoning changes.

Deputy planning director Dana Burghdoff delivered the presentation, asking City Council to give the Urban Design Commission authority to review site plans by developers who want to do work in the Stockyards — an authority previously held by City Council. However, several councilmembers, including Mayor Betsy Price, indicated that they would like to retain authority to review developers’ site plans alongside the Urban Design Commission.

“The Urban Design Commission has purview over design overlay districts and is made up of architects and design professionals,” Burghdoff wrote in an email. “We need them to advise the City Council on the design of buildings.”

Whether the council will retain authority will be worked out later, just one part of an ongoing process.

In June 2014, California-based Majestic Realty and the Hickman family of Fort Worth received an incentive from City Council for a redevelopment project over a 70-acre section of Stockyards.

At the time, the Stockyards didn’t have many design regulations, except for some placed on certain historic buildings that needed approval from the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission for changes to be made. The Stockyards had a form of zoning known as “K Heavy Industrial” zoning at the time.

Click here to see the definitions of Fort Worth’s zoning districts.

In light of the incoming Majestic-Hickman project, the City Council voted to put interim zoning on the Stockyards in July 2014, making the majority of the Stockyards designated as “PD/MU-2” zoning as opposed to “K Heavy Industrial.” With that decision, developers who want to build in the Stockyards have to show their site plans to the zoning commission and City Council for approval.

While that zoning was in place, the City Council appointed the Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force in October 2014 to create a document outlining the design standards and guidelines for Stockyards redevelopment. The document would cover not just the Majestic-Hickman project, but also the surrounding areas of the Stockyards. That area came to be called the “Stockyards Design Overlay District.”

Ibanez Architecture’s Randy Gideon, the task force’s architectural consultant, said he estimates the Stockyards Design Overlay District spans about 300 acres.

The task force spent months revising the document until they voted on a final draft in September.

Now, with task force recommending a design overlay district, developers would go through the Urban Design Commission for review of site plans, as opposed to going through City Council as required previously. By ordinance, all new developments within a design overlay district outside of downtown must go through the Urban Design Commission (development in downtown’s design overlay district is reviewed by the Downtown Design Review Board).  The Stockyards Design Overlay District would be the only district that must also go through the Zoning Commission and City Council.  

Along with the zoning changes, the task force is also recommending that the Urban Design Commission have a member with a historic preservation background. The task force also submitted public comments to City Council that the council create a historic district for the Stockyards to protect existing buildings, and that a form-based code district also be created. Many councilmembers showed support of the creation of a form-based code district and historic district. 

Discussion will continue in the next few months. On Oct. 27, the council is expected to vote to initiate the public hearing process, and the Zoning Commission and Urban Design Commission will hold their own public hearings on the proposed zoning changes. The council will ultimately vote to approve zoning changes on Jan. 5.

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