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Fort Worth denies three building permits amid TCU overlay debate

🕐 3 min read

By Scott Nishimura snishimura@bizpress.net

Fort Worth has denied three single-family building permits in neighborhoods around TCU, since the City Council put a temporary moratorium into effect Oct. 21 while it debates a controversial overlay designed to stop the growth of “stealth dorms” near the university.

Two of the permits are for expansions and remodels of existing homes. A third is for construction of a new six-bedroom, four-bath house.

The permit applications for the two remodel jobs came in after Oct. 21. HGC Commercial, which has built large multi-bedroom homes around TCU for investors, applied Oct. 21 for a permit for the six-bedroom house. But it didn’t have the required paperwork for fee waivers it’s seeking connected to the property’s location in a city neighborhood empowerment zone, and the staff denied the permit after HGC submitted the complete documents Nov. 7, Randle Harwood, the city’s planning and development director, said in an interview Friday.

The moratorium included an appeals process for denied permits, including a hearing before the City Council at the next available meeting, and council members will hear the appeals Tuesday.

Council members can grant the appeals and allow the permit applications to move forward, if they determine that delaying the work would constitute a “hardship” on the applicants. The council is scheduled to vote Dec. 2 on the stealth dorm overlay, and, if it does, it likely would vote on lifting the moratorium at the same time.

“I think they can all make a case for that, and that the council can make a case for that,” Harwood said.

Those were the only three applications that came in after Oct. 21, Harwood said.

In a letter to the city attorney, Karl Hahnfeld, an HGC principal, said the city staff had stepped outside routine procedure in its processing of the application for the house it’s seeking to build in the 2500 block of Wayside Avenue.

“We feel that the City of Fort Worth should have followed its customary procedure, accepted the application for processing, and allowed supplementation, if needed,” he said in the letter.

“The moratorium is a substantial infringement of our client’s legal rights,” the letter continued. “Our client has a right to build a residential home on his property. The overlay does not concern residential building but rather use of properties by their owners. So, the overbroad blanket moratorium on issuing permits to build residential homes precludes our client from tirnely exercising his legal rights at a substantial financial cost.”

Hahnfeld could not be immediately reached at his Fort Worth office Friday afternoon. HGC’s permit application is for a 3,200-square-foot home that includes a two-car garage.

Another of the denied applications is for a the remodel and expansion of an existing home in the 3700 block of Country Club Circle. The home’s owner wants to expand it to 4,091 square feet – including four bedrooms, three and a half baths, and a two-car garage – from 2,246 square feet. The owner filed the application Nov. 10.

The other application is for a remodel in the 2500 block of HIghview Terrace. The remodel would take it to 3,455 square feet – a four-bedroom, four-bath home, with a carport – from 3,038. The owner filed the permit application Nov. 6.

Twelve applications for single family permits in the TCU overlay area were filed between Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, with seven of those coming in the week before Oct. 21, Harwood said.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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