Fort Worth

Zoning, flooding issues in District 7 City Council campaign

Dennis Shingleton, incumbent District 7 Fort Worth City Council
Dennis Shingleton, incumbent District 7 Fort Worth City Council

The race for District 7 on the Fort Worth City Council has drawn one of the two youngest candidates this election cycle, a resident of far north Fort Worth who declared his candidacy in January when he spoke to the council about a mixed-income housing development going in near his home.

Michael Matos, 25, said he is unhappy with the way the city handled a case for the Standard at Boswell Marketplace housing project, to be located at the northwest corner of Old Decatur and West Bailey Boswell roads. The project received Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs 9 percent housing tax credits.

Matos, a project analyst for E. & J. Gallo Winery who has never held public office, said the surrounding neighborhoods were not properly informed about the project. The developer followed state rules regarding notification, which only require notice being sent to people living within a few hundred feet of a proposed development. Matos’s home is a little less than 2 miles from the project.

Moreover, there are no neighborhood associations registered with the city for that area.

Still, Matos goes so far as saying there was “sleight of hand” in that Fort Worth Housing Solutions, which is a partner in the project, did not properly notify nearby homeowners about the development, which will have a small portion of the units dedicated to lower-income people.

“People need a voice,” Matos said. “I could be that voice. It’s not about the age, but who’s going to stay up late at night worrying about the issues.”

Incumbent Dennis Shingleton, who currently serves as mayor pro tem and is seeking his fourth term, said since this incident, he has asked that the city this year decline supporting tax-credit applications on four other proposed projects in his district until a notification policy is reached.

“I have refused to approve any further projects,” Shingleton said.

Shingleton, 69, a retired Army colonel and UNT Health Science Center dean, is seeking his fourth term as a councilman. He is currently serving as mayor pro tem, which is voted by his council peers.

Registered voters go to the polls May 6 to elect a mayor and seven councilmembers. Early voting begins April 24. District 7 covers a large swath of west and north Fort Worth, generally running from Interstate 30 west of University Drive, past Loop 820 up to Lake Worth and east of Eagle Mountain Lake, over to Interstate 35W and north through the Alliance corridor, and ending at Texas Motor Speedway.

‘New innovation’

During his tenure, Shingleton has worked to fix the flooding issue in the Arlington Heights neighborhoods that are part of his district.

Matos thinks that’s taking too long and says some “new innovation” is needed to fix the problem.

“It’s been going on for years,” Matos said. “There has to be common ground, and that’s what I’m striving for.”

The city is looking into a federal voluntary program to buy the worst-flooded homes. Shingleton is quick to point out that the flooding issue can’t be fixed overnight. He said he trusts reports from the engineering firms and the city’s own engineers who have worked on the issue.

“I don’t have an engineering degree and neither does my opponent,” Shingleton said.

During his tenure, Shingleton said he has worked to get a police patrol division north of Loop 820 and has overseen many road projects that have vastly improved mobility issues. Improving public safety, prudent financial management and quality of life are among the issues he’s running on.

“My top priority is to be responsive to the needs of all residents and neighborhoods in District 7,” Shingleton said. “This includes completing the east-west traffic mobility improvements in far north Fort Worth, working to address the flooding problems in west Fort Worth/Arlington Heights, upgrading of our neighborhood parks and recreation areas, and construction of new police and fire facilities.”

Matos is running on a similar platform.

“The infrastructure throughout District 7 needs significant improvement and investment,” Matos said. “This is one of the many issues that continually surfaces during my conversations with citizens. Properly allocating the funds will be the No. 1 task at hand. I plan to conduct comprehensive analyses of road projects and traffic issues throughout the district. I would do the same for the drainage issues.”