The most contentious issue in the city’s push for an occupancy overlay in the Texas Christian University area — whether or not existing rental properties will be grandfathered — was almost resolved by consensus in a two-hour mediation meeting Wednesday night.
In a City Council meeting in August, all of the neighborhood associations in the proposed overlay area — and a few council members — came out against grandfathering the existing properties if the city restricts the number of unrelated adults who can live in single-family zoning from five to three.
But the mediation group Wednesday night, made up of neighborhood leaders, TCU administrators, investors and student government leaders, largely agreed to the overlay with complete grandfathering, unless the property is deemed nonconforming for two years, along with instituting some form of rental registration.
“I think we started off on two radical sides and now you are seeing a lot of people come to the middle,” said Chris Powers, one of the investors in the overlay.
“The developer/investor group is coming and saying all we ask is that the city follow the current law.”
Investors and developers have said not grandfathering would infringe on their property rights and cause an economic hardship.
The neighborhoods are seeking the overlay because of concerns about the loss of historic homes and the integrity of their neighborhoods; a possible decline in their property values; and issues such as excessive noise from partying, trash in the yards and illegal parking on the streets.
“I think the three is acceptable to the compromise for the investors. And I think grandfathering in perpetuity with the nonconforming use is the only fair thing,” said Paula Deane Traynham, president of the Frisco Heights Neighborhood Association. “It is what has always been in place.”
Greg Jackson, president of the Berkeley Place Association, said his neighborhood was against the complete grandfathering and asked for a compromise on the grandfathering issue.
“Is there any grandfathering short of infinity that would be acceptable?” he asked.
City staff is expected to have a draft ordinance with the overlay restrictions and grandfathering option ready for next week’s mediation group.
The other issues on the agenda — hashing out the details of rental registration, code enforcement, resident behavior, zoning definitions and neighborhood character — were not completed during the meeting because of a lack of time.
The proposed ordinance is an attempt to curb what some call stealth dormitories, or five-bedroom houses typically rented to college students. The Fort Worth Zoning Commission delayed a decision on the proposed ordinance, which reduces the number of unrelated people from five to three, in an Oct. 8 meeting after both sides engaged in about three hours of heated discussions.
The overlay includes the single-family-zoned neighborhoods of Frisco Heights, University Place, Paschal, Bluebonnet Place, Bluebonnet Hills, Westcliff, Westcliff West, Colonial Hills, Tanglewood, University West, University Place, Park Hill, Park Hill Place and Berkeley Place, as well as parts of Overton Park.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.