Christ Chapel And Arlington Heights Neighborhood Find Uneasy Truce
After a long day of meeting, debating, disagreeing, and, ultimately, compromising, everybody seemed tired if not exactly happy.
Christ Chapel Bible Church and homeowners in the Arlington Heights community reached an agreement that would somewhat restrict the church’s expansion for 40 years and create greener parking lots and buffers.
Christ Chapel had hoped the rezoning would pave the way to, er, pave the way further into the neighborhood (“Crying ’bout the Chapel,” Sept. 5, 2012).
Residents argued that the church had already wiped out about 50 homes while expanding several blocks into the historic neighborhood.
Rather than choose one side over the other, Fort Worth City Councilman Dennis Shingleton encouraged them to reach an agreement.
After yesterday’s deal was struck, Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association President Christina Patoski summed up her feelings while addressing the city council at last night’s meeting:
“It’s taken almost ten months to reach the compromise that our councilman last August charged us to find with Christ Chapel,” she said. “Given the political lay of the land, we believe this is the best possible outcome for the nearby property owners.”
Hmmm, “given the political lay of the land.”
What’s that mean?
Translation: When the P&Z says “heck yes” to re-zoning, and the district’s city councilman seems pretty okay with it, residents never felt like they had solid footing in negotiations.
“Sounds like y’all found an agreement that the neighborhood can live with, but isn’t thrilled about, and you’re still a little sore from the battle, but it could have been worse,” I summarized to Patoski afterward.
“That’s it in a nutshell,” she said. “We gave it everything we had to get what we could out of it. Our councilman holds the cards.”
Patoski’s podum speech wasn’t exactly triumphant.
“Please let the record reflect that a deep sense of loss remains among many people who live in Arlington Heights as they witness yet another block of their neighborhood wiped out by Christ Chapel Bible Church to make way for a parking lot that will be used less than 100 hours a year. For an institution that already has more than five acres of parking and is already profoundly over-parked.
“Let the record reflect that there are people in Arlington Heights who are disappointed that Christ Chapel would consider no other remedy for their parking deficit, except taking out more neighborhood homes, even though there are many other solutions that are more neighborhood-friendly.
“Let the record reflect that there are property owners in Arlington Heights who find deplorable the strong-arm land development tactics used by this church’s Building Committee to pave the way for this parking lot. Such as tearing down homes before receiving the necessary zoning changes. And building a parking lot around the homes of people who chose not to sell to the church.
“Let the record reflect that many in Arlington Heights are discouraged that all the safeguards established by our city government to protect neighborhoods have all failed so miserably. The zoning regulations, the Comprehensive Plan, the significant opposition from the nearby property owners, and the strong record of zoning case precedence, have all been ignored.”
Her final statement was another knife in the church’s gut:
“In closing, the lesson to be learned here is that when large institutions or other entities plan for future growth they must work together with all the property owners who could be impacted by that growth at the very beginning of the planning process, not after the fact. It works out better for everyone.”