Fort Worth

Fort Worth delays updates to tree ordinance

A team from the University of Texas at Arlington competes in the College Football Playoff Tree Planting challenge in Arlington on Thursday, January 8, 2015. (
A team from the University of Texas at Arlington competes in the College Football Playoff Tree Planting challenge in Arlington on Thursday, January 8, 2015. ( Star-Telegram archives

Updating the city’s tree preservation ordinance was postponed Tuesday night after City Council members unanimously voted to withdraw the proposed changes and continue to work with developers and activists on the issue.

The proposal, which would add bonuses for developers who plant drought-tolerant trees, will come back to the City Council in the future, though a date has not been set.

“We are not doing away with the tree ordinance. What we are wanting to do now, is as time went on we found out people on both sides weren’t happy with what had been done. We want to give everyone a chance to go back and work through this,” said Councilman Zim “W.B.” Zimmerman in the pre-council meeting.

“We are just going to take it off the table entirely until we can get it sorted out.”

The ordinance was also postponed at the Feb. 3 meeting, when developers expressed concerns about the development process becoming too bureaucratic and saying that the tree ordinance puts up unnecessary obstacles.

The city’s planned update to the tree preservation ordinance comes as the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott take shots at local regulation ordinances such as those dealing with tree preservation. House Bill 1442, filed by Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, would prohibit cities from having tree preservation ordinances like Fort Worth’s.

The city’s urban forestry ordinance, created in 2006 and updated in 2009, requires commercial developers to save 25 percent of a property’s tree canopy. The latest proposal changes the requirements for preserving canopy space and allows developers to get rid of non-native species.

The City Council stressed that the current tree ordinance will be in effect as they work on the update.

“The mission of preserving trees, planting more trees, growing the canopy and counter-balancing development ... is not something I’m interested in seeing diminished at all,” said Councilwoman Ann Zadeh.

Councilwoman Gyna Bivens made the motion to deny the proposed updates, saying she wants to create a better ordinance.

Council briefs

▪ The hours solicitors can legally come knocking on your door in Fort Worth will be restricted, after the City Council voted unanimously to only allow door-to-door solicitation and the placing of handbills on doors between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and after 8 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time.

The change was made because of residents concerned about their safety in late hours.

▪ A controversial 45-room hotel planned for Fort Worth’s eastside was shot down by the City Council after residents spoke out against the development.

Hugo Monsanto, the representing agent for the project, was requesting a zoning change from intensive commercial to planned development for a two-story hotel, Scottish Inn, at the corner of Cooks Lane and Ederville Road.

Neighborhood residents were worried about potential traffic, a surplus of hotels and apartment complexes already in that area and said another hotel is not what they want for the area.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst