Prolonged zoning decision continues to divide area

In a 6-1 decision Wednesday, the Fort Worth City Zoning Commission voted to give a 120-day continuance to allow more time to reach a compromise regarding the rezoning of the University Place neighborhood.The University Place Homeowners Association requested the zoning be changed in its neighborhood from two-family residential to single-family residential.

The argument held by the opposition is that single-family zoning would eliminate the opportunity for TCU students to rent properties on and around University Drive.

Teresa Turner, who spoke for the opposition, said the families who live on University Drive bought the houses for their college-aged children.

“University Drive is never going to be single-family,” Turner said.

Pam Durham also spoke for the opposition. She said she moved to the University Place area as a single-mother and lived in a duplex while she attended TCU as a MBA student. Durham still lives in the area.

Rebecca Lucas, an opponent, said University Drive should not be rezoned. She said the rest of the University Place neighborhood can be rezoned, but University Drive, where she owns three homes, is not an appropriate location for single-family zoning.

Five years ago, Fort Worth Transportation Public Works reported 22,242 cars drove daily on University Drive, Lucas said. She said this kind of high-traffic location does not attract many families.

Melissa Wade, president of the homeowners association, said the opposition should not request University Drive to be exempt from the rezoning.

Wade said if University Drive is exempt, it will endorse the “hijacking of the neighborhood by real estate speculators.”

She said the nearby Frisco Heights neighborhood is deteriorating due to two-family zoning.

The opposition is largely non-resident landlords and they bought property in the University Place neighborhood for the duplex zoning, Wade said.

The two-family zoning attracts people who want to change and not preserve, Wade said.

“The landlords want to redevelop University Place,” she said. “They don’t want to leave the character as is.”

Lucas said the group, which calls itself University Neighborhood Alliance, is not a redevelopment organization like Wade said, however. She said over 62 percent of the opposition that she represents are residential homeowners.

Daniel Hernandez, vice chairman of the City Zoning Commission, said rezoning will not necessarily preserve the beauty and historical integrity of the University Place neighborhood like the UPHA said it would.

Hernandez said new homeowners can change or build a home that does not match the character of the neighborhood and still follow the single-family zoning requirements.

“I believe historical overlay is the better response,” Hernandez said.

Brandy O’Quinn, a commissioner, said another classification needs to be created to accommodate both sides of the argument. She said new zoning that allows accessory buildings, such as garage apartments, would be more appropriate than strictly single-family zoning.

O’Quinn said new zoning would protect other older neighborhoods with similar situations like University Place. She made the motion to allow the 120-day continuance, which Hernandez seconded.

Lucas also said the rezoning does not include a true grandfather clause to allow residents to have and use garage apartments for renting purposes after two years of inactivity.

Turner said her mother lives in her garage apartment. If her garage apartment was damaged or destroyed, the single-family zoning would prohibit Turner from rebuilding her garage apartment for her mother.

Douglas Lucas, the son of Rebecca Lucas and a TCU student, said the rezoning request discriminates against students. He said if neighbors have a problem, they should call the authorities.

“If they have a problem with noise, call the police,” Douglas Lucas said. “Don’t rezone (the students).