City of Fort Worth determines solutions for all sides in TCU Overlay


A proposal to reduce the number of unrelated residents per house from five to three in residences in the TCU area is up for a vote on Oct. 8. 

The Fort Worth Zoning Commission is scheduled to discuss the TCU Overlay at its Wednesday meeting. 

The city is taking into account how students currently enrolled at TCU, neighbors in surrounding areas and nearby developers and investors will be affected.  

District 9 representative Ann Zadeh said the issue was brought to the city’s attention by neighborhood residents having problems in the area. 

Paula Deane Traynham, president of the Frisco Heights Neighborhood Association, said the city tried to respond to the concerns in a way that other college towns have.

“The TCU Overlay only affects property that is zoned single family, has a single family dwelling on it and that falls within the TCU overlay area,” Traynham said.

This means the TCU Overlay will not affect duplexes, apartment townhomes or any zoning outside zones defined as single family.

“It’s really intended to try and protect the integrity of the single family zoning,” W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, District 3 representative, said. “It was never intended to put five unrelated people inside of a building in an area like that, particularly with the parking.”

Zimmerman said he believed the ordinance would pass for all future housing, but the city of Fort Worth is trying to formulate the fine points of it. 

“We’ll probably grandfather existing houses, but we’re still looking at all the issues involved in it,” Zimmerman said. 

Traynham said the “grandfathering” would protect homes of more than three unrelated residents that fall within areas zoned single family if they fall within the guidelines of the overlay. 

Traynham said these homes protected by grandfathering could still continue to rent with more than three unrelated people “either from now through eternity, from now until the land is sold to the next owner, or from now until the property is altered more than 40 percent.” 

Investors and developers around the TCU area are advocating for grandfathering.

“I hope the city does what’s right and grandfathers every property that was developed or purchased prior to, and if they don’t, we’ll have to think of other solutions,” said Chris Powers, developer and president of Purple Patriots. 

Information courtesy of the Planning and Development Department​

The Zoning Commission will discuss the highly contested TCU overlay on Oct. 8.

“My goal is to listen to the people with concerns on both sides,” Zadeh said. “We want to come up with a fair and balanced way of addressing the concern.”

Many students who are considering living off campus see the overlay as a potential issue.

“I saw an article on it and a lot of people are concerned,” Michele Ragonesi, sophomore accounting and finance major, said. “As a sophomore, a lot of people are looking for houses right now and don’t know what houses are going to be made available to us depending on what happens.”

Students looking to live in single family zoned residences will have to wait until the City of Fort Worth makes a decision. 

“We’re tying to hear all the opinions and make a decision that protects both the interest of the neighborhood and protects the integrity of the neighborhood while at the same time also protecting the investments of the other business people we see in that area,” said Rachel Horton, Mayor Betsy Price’s crisis aide.

“I think, ultimately, grandfathering will go through,” Powers said. “I think it’s created more of a battle than we would like to take, but it will ultimately go through.” 

Craig Allen, the director of TCU Housing and Residence Life, said TCU developments of new residencies will continue as planned and is unaffected by the new zoning and TCU Overlay. 

“The trustees and Chancellor have had a vision that we are going to continue to build as long as there is demand,” Allen said.