The Fort Worth City Council moved forward with plans Tuesday night to create the Stockyards Design Overlay District and to begin the process of creating a form-based code district and historic district for the area on the north side of the city that has proven a draw for tourists and residents alike.
The council voted to initiate the zoning change process that would create the design overlay district, a process that will consist of public hearings on the design overlay over the next two months. The Urban Design Commission will hold its public hearing in November, while the Zoning Commission will hold its public hearing in December. The City Council will vote to adopt the design overlay district on Jan. 12.
The vote also created a review process for new developments on historic and non-historic properties in the Stockyards.
If a developer wants to make changes to a historic property, site plans for the development would need to be presented to City Council in a Pre-Council briefing before moving on to the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission, who will have the final say on whether or not the development can move forward.
If the project is a new development on a non-historic property, the site plan will need to be presented to the Urban Design Commission and Zoning Commission before reaching the City Council, who will have the final say on the new development.
The review process for new development will be in place until the creation of a form-based code, which will give review authority solely to the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission for historic properties and Urban Design Commission for non-historic properties.
The City Council may still consider retaining authority to review site plans for new developments, deputy planning director Dana Burghdoff said.
A consultant will be selected early next year to assist in creating the form-based code district and historic district standards and guidelines.
Along with initiating the zoning change process, the City Council also appointed Bob Adams of Historic Fort Worth Inc. to join the Urban Design Commission. The task force that drafted the Stockyards design standards had previously requested that the Urban Design Commission add a member with a historic preservation background.
The vote follows several months of meetings – and sometimes heated discussions – on the future of the Stockyards.
In June 2014, the council approved an economic incentive plan for a $175 million redevelopment plan for several properties owned by the Hickman family. The Hickman family partnered with Majestic Realty to redevelop part of the Stockyards Station, the mule barns and other properties. A redevelopment project on the mule barns is slated to begin early 2016.
The Majestic-Hickman project prompted the City Council to make zoning changes within the Stockyards and also create a design overlay district that would cover not only the Majestic-Hickman project but also the surrounding areas of the Stockyards. The Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force was in charge of drafting a document that would outline the design guidelines for the design overlay district. The task force approved a final draft of that document in September.
Many longtime Stockyards business leaders initially expressed reservations about the plans. However, at the council meeting, many former critics praised the work of the task force and the council in setting up a mechanism to preserve the historic area.
Among those supporting the current plans were Phillip Murrin, a property owner and businessman, his father Steve Murrin and Historic Fort Worth Executive Director Jerre Tracy.
“The Stockyards is more than just a collection of old buildings,” Phillip Murrin said. “It does require special tools, special measures to preserve that authentic sense of place that we all know and love.”