Five Years Later

Check out this article from two years ago that ran in the Arlington Heights Newsletter.

What will we be able to say about our neighborhood 5 years from now?  We would like to hear from all of you out there who own property or live on Western and/or Carleton. 

How do you imagine our neighborhood 5 years from now?  What kind of neighborhood would you like?

Adjacent Home Values

Adjacent Single-Family (A5) Streets have Higher Property Value

ImageWhen we were first contacted by one of the most vocal members of the small (and getting smaller) opposition to rezoning, we were told that rezoning to Single-Family A5 would make our property values go down.  We replied, “Poppycock!”

Since then, we have repeatedly argued that adjacent streets zoned single-family A5 sport higher property values than Western Avenue in particular (where the lion’s share of opposition has been centered).  But I would like to reiterate that we currently estimate opposition for rezoning to be about 9%, while support for rezoning is at about 75%.

Several comments from the opposition on this website have stated that our claim about property values could be disproved – but no proof to the contrary of the above facts has been provided in any form.

We crunched these numbers ourselves from data available on Zillow.com.  If you are not familiar with the website, I recommend you check it out.  Zillow statistics are used frequently by major news outlets to report national and local trends in housing prices and sales volume.

The data clearly shows that streets like Ashland, Tremont and Hillcrest (that have A5 protection) have much higher property values than Western Avenue.

However – property value is not why we are rezoning.  Our rezoning initiative is driven by many goals shared by the vast majority of the neighborhood – goals that have been well documented on this website, presented to the zoning commission (where our petition was approved by an 8-to-1 vote) and now argued at a special neighborhood meeting.  This “deep dive” into property values is simply to refute a claim made by the opposition to rezoning that moving to A5 will lower property values.

Sunday Digest

75% Support for Rezoning to Single-Family A5 (and Growing!)

This was a big week.  Here are links to all of the articles you might have missed:

  • Star-Telegram Covers Rezoning Effort – Great article in the Star-Telegram with multiple perspectives.
  • The Cold Hard Truth – Three uses permitted in “B” zoning that will not be permitted in single-family A5 (taken straight from the city zoning ordinance).  Hint: One of the uses permitted now that will not be under new zoning is “One-family zero lot line attached (twin home).”
  • For or Against Rezoning to Single Family (A5) – There are 98 properties in the proposed area for rezoning.  Based on the number of “support letters” we have received (these are official petition-type documents that will be submitted to the city) we estimate support for rezoning is currently at 75%.
  • Thursday Night Fireworks – A brief perspective on the Thursday-night neighborhood meeting to discuss rezoning.

Stick with us.  This is almost over and we can go back to our normal lives.  Only 10 days until the City Council meeting!

Star-Telegram Covers Rezoning Effort

Star-Telegram Covers Rezoning Effort

Thank you so much to Caty Hirst for showing up to our neighborhood meeting and covering the rezoning issue for Western and Carleton in Arlington Heights!  She did a great job of delivering fair and balanced coverage.  And, heck, it takes a lot of ambition to spend your Thursday night in a church parlor listening to people argue over zoning!

Here are a few points I would make to support a better understanding of the article:

  1. I (Bret Starr) don’t just live on one of the blocks impacted by rezoning; I also own a rental home on Western avenue that my wife and I rent out to a lovely young couple.  We are not against renters.  We are simply against new duplexes in the neighborhood because our current zoning (B) does not prevent crazy-large twin-home duplexes from being built in the hood.
  2. Support for rezoning has not dropped to 54% as stated in the article.  Only 51% is needed to press the issue; but we actually have approximately 75% support!  We just haven’t turned in our petitions yet because we don’t want the people who have signed our support letters to be harassed prior to the vote at city council.  Once we turn in the support letters, the names of the folks who signed become public record.  At this point, most neighbors just want to be left alone and have this whole thing over with.
  3. Councilman Dennis Shingleton and Senior Planner Beth Knight did a great job of presiding over a fair meeting.  Whether you support or oppose rezoning, you have to hand it to our city representatives for working hard to make sure everyone had a chance to speak and be heard.

We are all looking forward to the next City Council meeting.  We hope you show up to support your side!  Let’s have a fair outcome based on the majority sentiment!

The Cold Hard Truth

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The Cold Hard Truth of Zoning

According to Chapter 4 District Regulations, City of Fort Worth Zoning Ordinance

Was there ever a better country singer than George Jones?  Okay … let’s not get into an argument over that!  Later in “The Possum’s” career, he recorded a song written by Jamie O’hara called “The Cold Hard Truth.”

Here is a great verse from that song:

I’ve come to set the record straight
I’ve come to shine the light on you
Let me introduce myself
I’m the cold hard truth

Look at the table above.  It’s from the City of Fort Worth Zoning Ordinance. Carleton and Western are currently zoned “B.”  In the table, “P” stands for “permitted.”  Compare column “B” to column “A5″ – because that is what we are going to rezone to.

There are 4 “permitted uses” for areas zoned “B” that are not permitted in areas zoned “A5.”

Those uses are:

  • One-family zero lot line detached
  • One-family zero lot line attached (twin home)
  • Two-family detached
  • Duplex/two-family attached dwelling

Want to see what a “one-family zero lot line attached (twin home) looks like?

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Let me introduce myself.  I’m the cold hard truth.

This is the why rezoning exists – to bring regulations into alignment with the actual conditions on the ground.  We don’t have “twin homes” in our neighborhood now.  But they ARE permitted by our current zoning.  This isn’t a “scare tactic.”  This is the truth.  And developers are planning large twin homes like this as we speak.

Most of the homes in Arlington Heights are 50 ft wide.  Go outside and measure your yard.  Our current zoning allows a developer to pack multi-story houses into lots that are 25 ft wide.  That’s probably the average width of a “big room” in most houses in Arlington Heights right now.  Zoning was created arbitrarily in the 40’s.  Most of our area was originally zoned “B.”  But that wasn’t how it was built up after zoning.  That’s why you don’t see homes on lots that are only 25 ft wide in our neighborhood now.

Everything in this post is referenced in the city zoning ordinance.  Check it out. 

Don’t think for one second that developers who don’t know our neighborhood won’t take advantage of our current zoning.  We live in an awesome neighborhood.  Carleton and Western are two of the only streets in Central Arlington Heights where a developer can still build a monster twin-home duplex.  That’s an attractive proposition to many developers who don’t know our neighborhood (because they don’t know that most similar projects have failed).

We have something special here.  And, by the way, that includes the awesome duplexes that have already been built on 50 foot wide lots!  As we’ve said 1 million times – we don’t hate duplexes and we don’t hate renters.  We are simply trying to protect ourselves from speculative development in the future.  Do you want “twin homes” in our neighborhood?  Read the zoning ordinance and decide for yourself. 

If you are part of the 17% who are undeclared on this issue, or part of the 9% who are opposed to rezoning, I urge you to read the zoning ordinance for yourself and decide if you want to join the 74% (and climbing) majority of people who just say “No!” to monster duplexes.

And please remember that your current land use rights are not impacted.  Keep renting your duplex or your single family home.  We are all in favor of renting nice properties to nice people.  Just don’t build a “McDuplex” in our hood.

For or Against Rezoning to Single Family (A5)?

Majority is For Rezoning Carleton and Western to Single Family (A5)

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These numbers are unofficial (only because we have yet to turn in our letters of support to the city).  Official numbers will be presented at city council after verification by city officials.  We expect to arrive at City Hall with more than the current 74% support.

If you have questions about these numbers, please post a comment or contact us.

Thursday Night Fireworks!

What a Night!

If you missed the neighborhood meeting last night, I’m sorry to report that whatever you were watching on television wasn’t nearly as exciting!

A big “Thank You!” to everyone who turned out.  We would especially like to thank City Councilman, Dennis Shingleton and Beth Knight who presided over the meeting and kept us all on our best behavior (and mindful of the facts).

Some in attendance were for rezoning and some in attendance were against rezoning.  But we feel that the meeting was a great example of the democratic process in general and of Fort Worth fairness in specific.  It was as American as fireworks on the 4th of July and as Fort Worth as the Stock Show and Rodeo.

As of tonight, 74% of the neighborhood supports rezoning to single-family A5 (these numbers are unofficial, as we have not turned in our collected letters of support to the city).  By the time we arrive at the City Council meeting (Tuesday, February 4th, 7:00 p.m, City Hall), we expect our support will be even stronger (we have many verbal commitments from the small group of people who have yet to “vote” one way or the other).

We were glad to see folks who oppose rezoning in attendance.  Their contribution made for a spirited debate, and ultimately, a deeper understanding of the rezoning facts.  Thank you for standing up for what you believe in and caring enough to show up and be heard.

There is Still Work to Do!

If you have not yet signed a letter of support, please contact us and we will make sure you get one.  If you have questions about rezoning, we encourage you to contact Beth Knight (817-392-8190, beth.knight@fortworthtexas.gov) at the city.  She knows more about the facts of rezoning than anyone in the city (and maybe in the state).  It is her life’s work, and she loves it.  She is also incredibly impartial and will provide you with only the factual answers to your questions.

During this process, we haven’t always been right about all of the facts.  But with Ms. Knight’s help, we’ve been able to correct ourselves, develop a deep understanding of the facts and move forward with confidence that we are doing what is right for the neighborhood and the overwhelming majority of neighbors.

Don’t take our word for it.  Do your own research (the zoning ordinance is available right here).  Call the city (especially Beth Knight).  And when you have made up your mind, sign a letter of support.

We are on the path to success with this rezoning initiative.  When we succeed, we will secure the future of Western and Carleton for years to come.  Thank you all who have planted yard signs, mailed in letters of support and attended informational meetings.  You are the ones making this happen!

See you at City Hall.