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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Urban Design Commission approves Stockyards design document with changes

The Urban Design Commission approved the document outlining the design standards and guidelines for the Stockyards Design Overlay District, with changes made to some design specifications and the way certain items in the document were worded.

The words “shall” and “should,” for example, were a discussion focus at the commission’s Thursday meeting. “Shall” refers to the design standards in the document — that is, what developers will be required to do when they want to build a new structure in the Stockyards. “Should” refers to the design guidelines in the document, which are recommendations as to what the developer should do.

The Urban Design Commission changed several phrases in the document from “should” to “shall,” per request from Fort Worth citizens who attended a Dec. 9 public meeting and voiced concerns about the document. The commission is recommending that phrases originally meant to be suggestions be made into requirements, thus creating stricter design standards.

For example, one item in the document states, “Buildings on the south side of East Exchange Avenue should have a setback of 0 feet from the back of the sidewalk/property line along East Exchange Avenue.”

With the Urban Design Commission’s changes, the item now reads, “Buildings on the south side of East Exchange Avenue shall have a setback of 0 feet from the back of the sidewalk/property line along East Exchange Avenue.”

Thus, the zero-foot setback becomes a requirement, as opposed to a suggestion.

In addition to wording changes, the commission also made changes to some design specifications. For example, one item requires a minimum 10-foot setback between building improvements on Marine Creek and the edge of the creek water. The Urban Design Commission added to that requirement, stating that a 10-foot setback is required but a 20-foot setback is recommended.

The changes that the Urban Design Commission made are not final, however, as the document still needs to receive approval from the Zoning Commission and ultimately city council in the next two months.

The Stockyards Design Overlay District is an area spanning about 300 acres over the Stockyards, according to Randy Gideon, an architectural consultant from Ibanez Architecture. Since October 2014, the city has been trying to create a document that outlines the design standards and guidelines governing new developments within the district.

The city-appointed Historic Stockyards Design District task force finished writing the document in September. The document is currently in the process of receiving approval from different governmental bodies — the Urban Design Commission, Zoning Commission and city council. Now that the document has approval from the Urban Design Commission, its next stop is the Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission is tentatively scheduled to discuss and vote on the document Jan. 13. City council is scheduled to discuss and vote on the document Feb. 2.

The design overlay district is temporary until a form-based code district for the Stockyards is created. The process of creating the form-based code district may take over a year, but eventually, the form-based code district will replace the design overlay district.

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