Chalk up a victory for the neighborhoods and Kathleen Hicks, city council representative from District 8 — and a resounding defeat for the rest of the council.
Rita Vinson, representative of the Brentwood-Oak Hills Neighborhood Association reported by email that this afternoon the city zoning commission denied the city-council sponsored application for a zoning change that would have lifted the restrictions imposed four years ago on 16 pawn shops/payday lenders in areas where new pawn shops were banned from opening.
Those operating in the area when the ban was imposed were grandfathered, with the caveat that if the shop was destroyed by a natural disaster or closed for any other reason, it could not rebuild or reopen as a pawn shop ever again. The council-driven zoning change – which would have allowed old shops to reopen and, it was feared, new shops to try to come into the areas – was pushed by District 5 councilman Frank Moss over the heated objections of Hicks, whose district contains nine of the 16. Moss had the support of all other council members and the mayor. But Hicks didn’t give up, hitting the pavement to gather support from neighborhood organizations inside and outside her district, including the biggest of them all, the city-wide League of Neighborhoods. They showed up today and made their case.
“I am delighted that the zoning commission recognized the very serious potential ramifications of this case on neighborhoods across the city,” Hicks said. “This unanimous vote by the commission sends a clear message. I only hope the council will listen to the diverse residents from throughout the city who have clearly stated that this proposal is not the Fort Worth way.”
“They [pawn shops] can apply on a case by case basis if any of them needs to expand or rebuild,” Vinson wrote, but any such approval would then “rise or fall” on its individual merits. “There was no good justification of the blanket approval for these pawn shops,” she said. And the zoning commission agreed. Now the ball is back in the council’s court which will vote on the zoning board’s decision on May 4.
That should be a pretty interesting vote.