Editorials

Take ‘historic’ burden away from Stop Six

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Fort Worth Councilwoman Gyna Bivens intends to spur discussion of eliminating the historic district designation for the 319-acre Stop Six neighborhood.
Fort Worth Councilwoman Gyna Bivens intends to spur discussion of eliminating the historic district designation for the 319-acre Stop Six neighborhood. Star-Telegram

District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, like many Fort Worth residents, clearly has a soft spot in her heart for the historic area known as Stop Six.

Maybe that’s why her eyes narrow and her jaw clenches at something she believes is holding this part of east Fort Worth back. She’s determined to change it.

Stop Six got its name more than a century ago when, as a pastoral African-American community, it was home to the sixth stop on the Northern Texas Traction Co.’s interurban passenger rail line between Fort Worth and Dallas.

In an odd twist, Bivens wants the official designation of Stop Six as a historic district to go away. Fort Worth has 13 designated historic districts, most created at residents’ insistence.

Bivens makes a good case that, as historic (or close to it) as some of the properties in the 319-acre Stop Six district are, more than twice as many are vacant lots and nonhistoric structures.

Stop Six needs economic development, Bivens insists, and the construction and renovation restrictions in a designated historic district raise barriers to new development that are too high.

First, she told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board, she wants to spark a broad discussion of doing away with the historic district designation for Stop Six.

That’s a long process that starts with a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Sweet Home Baptist Church, 5225 Ramey Ave.

In August, the City Council would adopt a resolution stating its intent to dissolve the historic district.

The Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission and the Zoning Commission would hold separate public hearings, followed by another City Council hearing ending in a vote on Bivens’ proposal.

City Hall records show that most Stop Six property owners opposed creation of the historic district when the City Council approved it in May 2007. Documents show that 832 property owners signed up against the proposal, while only 146 were for it.

The city offers a 10-year tax break in a historic district when owners develop new structures or renovate old ones. But the resulting structures must look like those built during the area’s historic period, which in the case of Stop Six is 1920-40 and 1950-70.

Bivens says individual property owners who still want historic designation and the tax break could “self-designate” their property to be in a “discontiguous” district.

For some, the Stop Six historic designation is a badge of honor. Bivens wants progress, and she’s not seeing it.

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