Northeast Tarrant

Residents are fighting plans for apartments in Bedford. Here’s what they want instead

A group of Bedford residents is urging the city to stop approving plans for apartments on undeveloped land in the city.
A group of Bedford residents is urging the city to stop approving plans for apartments on undeveloped land in the city.

A group of residents opposed to building more apartments in Bedford is raising money to fight a proposal to build a 240-unit complex on one of the few vacant pieces of land in the city.

The residents, who have a Facebook page called Bedford Citizens Against More Apartments, also said they are holding elected officials accountable and are exploring recalling the mayor and three council members.

“We are not against people living in apartments. Apartments have used up a lot of our valuable land,” said Tom Burnett, a resident involved in the citizens group.

“Bedford has been slow to develop businesses, and the city council has reminded us that we have very little land left. Land has become a commodity in the community, and we don’t want it wasted on apartments.”

At issue is a request that will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 9 to approve a plan to build 240 urban lofts on 8.07 acres in the Bedford Commons on land zoned for multifamily housing.

Bedford Commons is near city hall and bounded by Texas 183 on the south, Bedford Road on the north, Forest Ridge Drive on the west and Central Drive on the east.

The developer, Realty Capital, brought a proposal to change zoning in order to build the apartments to the city council in October, but the plan was defeated on a 5-2 vote.

Tim Coltart, managing director for Realty Capital, said new apartments are needed in Bedford.

“This is what employers look for, and our conversations with businesses have been positive,” he said.

Coltart said the upscale urban lofts are geared toward millennials whose household income is “well in excess” of Bedford’s median of $61,000. Units will include granite counter tops, high ceilings and crown molding. Most units will be under 1,000 square feet with one bedroom.

He said the development would add $300,000 to the city’s tax base.

Development director Bill Syblon told the Star-Telegram previously that there are 35 apartment complexes in the city, and most were built over 30 years ago.

Burnett said he and others in the residents group are concerned that their elected officials haven’t been accountable, and they are targeting mayor Jim Griffin, and council members Roger Fisher, Roy Turner and Rusty Sarter to be recalled from office.

Burnett said the group is working on a referendum that would prohibit apartments from being built on undeveloped land in Bedford.

“We can no longer rely on elected officials to do the job for us,” Burnett said. “We don’t feel they have been transparent to us. They can spout all of the demographics and statistics they want, but we can counter all of that.”

Asked about the possibility of a recall election, Griffin said that when Bedford Commons was discussed several years ago, he opposed the building of apartments like those already in the city. But times change and the market changes, he said.

Developments that last are mixed use with entertainment, restaurants and apartments, he said.

“My argument is, why can’t I have an opportunity to change my opinion?” he said. “As markets change, I see this as a viable option for the future of Bedford. This is an opportunity to establish something that will bring people to Bedford. That is my position.

If Realty Capital meets the city’s requirements, the council can’t deny the developer’s request, Griffin said.

Fisher said he does not recall stating that he doesn’t want more apartments in Bedford, and said that people need to look at his entire voting record as a council member.

“We need to move Bedford forward, but a particular group opposing a particular development is fine, but what does that say to future developers? And recalling council members: what does that say to people who want to run for council in the future?”