The $175 million plan to redevelop Fort Worth’s beloved Stockyards didn’t get the reception from the city’s zoning commission many of its supporters hoped it would.
Voting 4-3 — just one vote shy of the five needed for approval — the board sent forth a recommendation that the City Council deny the proposed zoning changes that would encompass 175 acres around Exchange Avenue and turn the heavy industrial area into a planned development/mixed-use site.
At Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners seemed to adopt some of the concerns raised by development plan opponents, specifically that the proposal, put forth by family-owned Hickman Cos. and privately held California mega-developer Majestic Realty Co., was moving too fast and required more community input.
The board even debated delaying its vote, for fear that council members — whose enthusiastic support of the Stockyards seemed evident after they voted 8-1 in June to approve up to $26 million in tax abatements for the developers — were already determined to accept the proposed zoning changes.
But council approval of the economic incentives wasn’t a rubber stamp. It was granted with a promise that city staff and council members would closely monitor the development to make certain the Stockyards’ historic character is preserved.
And despite the council’s support thus far, members have been quick to acknowledge the sensitivities associated with the historic site and have voiced their own desire for caution.
Perhaps seeking to assuage the “it’s moving too fast” fears of fellow zoning commission members, chairman Nick Genua reminded his colleagues that developers will have to produce site plans for virtually everything moving forward, which will require city approval for a host of individual development projects.
His point is a good one, but not one he should have to make before the commission, which is responsible for determining if proposed zoning changes meet land usage and compatibility requirements and advising the City Council accordingly.
The politics of such development projects are inevitable, but they are for City Council members to address. No doubt they will consider such concerns when they vote on the development proposal next Tuesday.