Judge advises Historic Fort Worth to sue Texas Wesleyan

Posted Friday, Mar. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A state district judge Friday told lawyers for Historic Fort Worth that they need to sue Texas Wesleyan University for having the historic designation removed on the 100-year-old Dillow House as it attempts to stop demolition of the east-side property.

Judge R.H. Wallace's decision came in response to Historic Fort Worth's request for a temporary injunction against the city regarding the City Council's recent vote to remove the designation on the property on Rosedale Street. That decision would allow Texas Wesleyan to demolish the house.

Historic Fort Worth said the city's staff did not follow proper procedure by allowing the university to remove the designation through a zoning change, rather than an appeals process.

"Texas Wesleyan would have an interest," Wallace said. "It's the court's ruling that they have a right to protect that interest. TWU may not want to be a party, or like to be a party," but he added, "TWU needs to be enjoined."

In the hearing, city attorney Christopher Mosley argued that Historic Fort Worth has no standing to bring the lawsuit because it will not suffer injury from the City Council's decision; rather, Texas Wesleyan will be impacted. Mosley said the city did follow the correct procedure and is now obligated to give Texas Wesleyan a demolition permit if it applies for one. As of Friday, the school had not done so.

John Veilleux, a Texas Wesleyan spokesman, said the university hopes Historic Fort Worth will not file a lawsuit against the school and prevent it from proceeding with its plans.

"It if does go to court, the issue is on our side," Veilleux said. "We feel very strongly."

Art Brender, representing Historic Fort Worth, said it's likely the organization will amend its lawsuit next week.

The university sought the historic designation on the property, at 3216 E. Rosedale St., in 1990. Wesleyan now wants to raze the building because it has deteriorated and is too expensive to renovate. Instead, the school wants to use the land for expansion.

Last August, the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission denied Wesleyan's request to demolish the building, ruling that the school did not show that the property had lost its historic significance or that the school would suffer an economic hardship by renovating the 1912 home.

Wesleyan filed to have the case heard before the Appeals Board in November, but then changed its strategy and asked the Zoning Commission to remove the historic designation. The commission approved the university's request in January and sent it on for City Council approval, which happened Feb. 5.

The house was built by Samuel Dillow, a grocer and banker who lived in the home until he died in 1931. His daughter graduated from Wesleyan and donated the house to the university in 1979. She lived there until her death in 1982. The school used the house until 2007. It has been vacant since then.

Sandra Baker,

817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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