FORT WORTH — East Fort Worth homeowners jammed City Hall Tuesday night to lobby for protections against gas compressor stations in their bucolic neighborhood.As debate on a proposed ordinance change began, City Council member Gyna Bivens said she would move to allow compressors in planned development and industrial zoning, with 1,000-foot setbacks in non-industrial planned development districts, 600-foot setbacks with waivers by protected-use property owners or by the council, and the grandfathering of 41 sites in Fort Worth where compressors already exist.Compressors are located at intervals along gas pipelines to maintain pressure.Bivens said she wanted to strike an industry proposal to reduce setbacks for fully enclosed compressors to 300 feet of non-residential protected uses with waivers by those property owners or by the council.The council voted unanimously to approve Bivens’ motion at 10 p.m.“This is not going to make everybody happy,” Bivens said before speakers began making their cases.Jackie Barnd, a director of the Mallard Cove neighborhood, asked the council to “please do the right thing for our neighborhood. That’s all we ask.”Mallard Cove residents triggered the ordinance review after it fought off an industry attempt to locate a compressor station on agriculturally zoned land in their neighborhood. The city’s ordinance currently allows compressors on agriculturally zoned property by right.Mary Kelleher, a Mallard Cove-area resident who recently won an upset election to a seat on the Tarrant Regional Water District board, reminded the council residents have been “begging” the city for two years to act on the compressor issue.“We’re tired of begging in three-minute increments,” she said.Libby Willis, chairwoman of the gas drilling committee of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Associations, told the council that the league favors the 1,000-foot setbacks and opposes compressor stations by right in any district besides industrial.Jimmie Hammontree, representing the Access Midstream natural gas services provider, said the industry doesn’t believe the city needs to change its ordinance, “The city has an excellent gas ordinance,” he said.Bob Manthei of XTO Energy told the council, “We need language that protects our investments.”The industry has said the city and neighborhoods risk pushing infrastructure into other neighborhoods if adequate compression can’t be built where it’s needed.Neighborhood representatives were at odds with a proposed ordinance change that would allow natural gas companies to locate compressors only in planned development and industrial zoning, but would also allow more compressors on 41 existing sites in the city by right.Neighborhood representatives, in negotiations with the industry and city for months, favored the zoning requirements but say property owners around the grandfathered sites, scattered across central, far south, far north and east Fort Worth, would be stripped of protection. The gas industry had asked the city to address existing sites in the ordinance review.Bivens, whose district includes Mallard Cove, backed off an earlier proposal she floated that would have allowed gas compressors by right on 29 existing industrial sites in Fort Worth, but would have required rezoning if the industry sought more compressors on any of the 12 nonindustrial sites.The city’s current ordinance allows compressor stations in industrial and agriculture zoning by right. Neighborhood representatives sought to change the ordinance to allow compressors in agricultural zoning only by special exception, which would require a vote of the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment and allow for no council review.Through negotiations, the proposed ordinance would allow compressors only in industrial zoning and planned development.Under planned development, the staff would make findings based on compatibility with surrounding land uses and zoning, and consistency with the city’s comprehensive plan.The zoning commission and City Council would conduct public hearings and vote on any rezoning.Also Tuseday, the council clarified what constitutes nudity in the city’s ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses.Council members unanimously approved changes chiefly designed to clarify that body paints and liquid latex don’t count as adequate body coverings.The issue arose during the summer when Lewisville changed its ordinance to respond to “Anything But Clothes” promotions at the restaurant chain Redneck Heaven’s Lewisville location. Redneck Heaven has a north Fort Worth location.The Fort Worth ordinance now says: “Body paint, body dyes, tattoos, liquid latex, whether wet or dried, and other similar substances shall not be considered an opaque covermg.”“We’re not about not having fun, but it’s not unreasonable to expect servers in restaurants to wear clothes,” Councilman Danny Scarth, whose district includes the Fort Worth Redneck Heaven restaurant, said.Businesses that don’t follow the nudity standard could end up being designated as sexually oriented business, which are more strictly regulated. Such businesses must have special city permits, be located in industrial zoning and ensure that no employees have convictions or have spent time in jail or prison for various offenses. Redneck Heaven is not considered a sexually oriented business under the current Fort Worth ordinance.City officials have said they’ve received no complaints that Redneck Heaven is violating the city’s ordinance.
Body coverings Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808 Twitrer: @JScottNishimura