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Task force passes Stockyards design standards on to council

🕐 6 min read

Council to hear Stockyards plans in October

Fact Box:

Next Steps

Now that the task force has completed its work, the process of reviewing the task force proposal began during an Urban Design Commission work session on Sept. 24.

A tentative schedule calls for a City Council briefing on Oct. 13 followed by a Zoning Commission briefing on Oct. 14, Deputy Planning Director Dana Burghdoff said.

The first of three public hearings on the ordinance could be held by the Urban Design Commission on Oct. 22. If that group recommends its adoption, the ordinance would go before the Zoning Commission on Nov. 11 for another public hearing and possible recommendation, she said. A council briefing will be either Oct. 13 or 20, Burghdoff said in an email.

The City Council would hold a third public hearing on Dec. 1 and information from that hearing and the other two groups would be used in making the council decision, Burghdoff said.

If the design ordinance is adopted, the council also would take action to rescind the Planned Development site plan required as an interim measure for new Stockyards development under the Mixed-Used zoning approved last year.

Once the Stockyards Overlay District is approved, she said, city staff may consider eliminating the Trinity Uptown Overlay District or combining the standards of the two districts, which overlap on the perimeters.

Martha Deller

FWB Special Correspondent

After months of contentious public meetings, the Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force appointed last year to create design standards for the Stockyards did just that on Sept. 23.

But the 10-5 vote by the task force to send the 54-page design ordinance to the City Council and two city commissions for approval underscored the divergent views of the task force and the public on the future of the Stockyards.

Bob Adams, a Historic Fort Worth board member, walked out of the meeting shortly after he and four other task force members failed to delay the vote on the ordinance while they sought tougher restrictions on Stockyards development.

Aside from Adams’ abrupt departure, the task force’s last meeting was relatively sedate compared to the last four months when more than 100 people packed a series of task force sessions to demand that the group protect the historic Stockyards from Majestic and other developers by adopting form-based codes and other actions the group was not authorized to take.

The ongoing protests kept the task force from discussing drafts of the design ordinance, delaying its initial goal to complete the ordinance by June.

At the Sept. 23 meeting, however, the smaller audience of about 60 people sat quietly through the presentation by Deputy Planning Director Dana Burghdoff and task force member Randy Gideon. When the public comment period came, only longtime historic preservation advocate Marty Craddick spoke, reiterating previous concerns that the proposed ordinance would not adequately protect historic buildings.

“We need form-based codes and we need a local historic district,” Craddock said. “Please take action to urge the council to put these measures in place to keep the Stockyards real.”

The task force had debated for several meetings restrictions on heights, setbacks and other items to make new buildings fit into the historic Stockyards.

On an 8-6 vote at its Sept. 3 meeting, the task force voted to change “guidelines” on those items to “standards” after a city attorney ruled that the tougher designation was required for a city commission to review compliance with the ordinance.

Adams sought and won another vote at the meeting to change one section of the ordinance from guidelines to standards. But he didn’t get task force support when he attempted to alter another section.

Task force chair Eric Hahnfeld then called a vote on a motion to adopt the ordinance and, after review by the city legal staff, to pass it on to the Urban Design Commission, the Zoning Commission and the City Council.

After the 10-5 vote, task force member Lori Gordon, a member of the city’s Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission, said she wanted to see a printed copy of the ordinance before voting.

Hahnfeld noted that the vote had passed, prompting Adams’ retort, “I can’t believe that we’d pass something on to the council that we haven’t even seen. I respectfully ask that my name be removed from the document.”

Adams then quietly left the room as Burghdoff led the other task force members through five proposed recommendations to the council to accompany their proposed ordinance.

The remaining members unanimously approved a recommendation that the Urban Design Commission that will review some new Stockyards development include a member with background in history, architectural history or historic preservation. The nine-member commission currently is required to have six members with background in architecture, planning, real estate or law.

But task force members balked at outright recommending that the council initiate a local historic district within the Stockyards and revive form-based code zoning that many people believe the council initially ordered, then abandoned.

The city staff and council decided earlier that it takes too long and costs too much to work through the form-based codes when they needed something quickly to serve as guideline-standards for the Majestic project and other developments in the Stockyards. City officials said the design ordinance could be used as the basis for a form-based code later.

Task force members Carlos Flores and Majestic Realty executive Craig Cavileer were among several members who made a point of confirming that any future form-based code efforts in the Stockyards would incorporate the design document.

Several members also questioned why the task force should recommend that the city initiate a historic district.

Cavileer, whose California-based firm is partnering with the Hickman family on a 925-acre Stockyards development, challenged other task force members to convince him to vote for that recommendation.

Phil Murrin said the historic district, which many preservation supporters want, will pick up where the design ordinance leaves off and preserve historic buildings.

Instead, Gary Brinkley, general manager of Stockyards Station, proposed that the task force merely refer the public interest in a historic district to the council for its consideration.

Likewise, Brinkley reworded a recommendation that the council encourage property owners to hire a consultant to design a form-base code the Stockyards to one that passed along that public comment for the council’s consideration.

Both of those recommendations passed unanimously. Another recommendation to ask the council to commit city funds for a form-based code was not voted on.

Hahnfeld thanked the task force for its tireless work since its October creation. Most of the work took place after the task force began working with consultant Randy Gideon in April.

“Not everyone agreed 100 percent but I think we accomplished what we set out to do,” he said. “This document isn’t perfect, but it’s as good start.”

Cavileer agreed.

“The process works,” he said. “We have people from every walk of life from people on different boards to those who spent their lives in the Stockyards. To be unanimous on everything would not benefit the Stockyards. I’m OK with it.”

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