SHARE

The couple sitting in the front row of City Hall looked more than a little pissed off. Talk about body language. Stephen Buttram had his arms folded, head cocked, and eyes narrowed. His wife’s arms were also folded. Ansley Buttram swiveled around to avoid having to look at their adversary, the short, immaculately dressed man speaking at the podium –– political consultant Bryan Eppstein.

The Buttrams accuse him of trying to push them out of an exclusive neighborhood just west of Texas Christian University’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Buttrams say they’ve been on the receiving end of a long campaign of harassment. Eppstein, Stephen said, is “doing anything he can to try and force us to sell our house, and the reality is we’re just not going to do it.”

The two camps were squaring off before the Board of Adjustment, whose members hear cases when building officials have been accused of making a mistake in a decision while enforcing ordinances. Eppstein said the Buttrams have allowed their house to be turned into a boarding house at best, a frat house at worst, and a nuisance to neighbors no matter what it’s called. Taking up his case before the board is just one of many avenues he’s pursued over the past two years, resulting in a swell of e-mails, phone calls, meetings, disputes, a decision, an appeal, a postponement, and on and on.

Eppstein: The disagreement is all about land use. Photo by Jeff Prince.

Eppstein is representing neighbors along Alton Road. The three-lined street is not only close to TCU and the Trinity River but just a few miles from I-30 and downtown. Houses are in the $1 million range. Yards are groomed. Old-growth trees provide beauty and shade. The street is narrow, however, and gets congested when cars park alongside both curbs. The front lawns are lush but don’t have sidewalks. Congestion creates safety hazards for motorists and pedestrians.

The Buttrams own a five-bedroom Colonial-style house in the 2800 block of Alton Road. The home’s exterior is nice –– except for the half-dozen missing or broken tiles on the front porch, testament to the large amount of foot traffic.

For the past couple of years, the Buttrams have leased their home to five TCU students at a time. The first bunch was rowdy, playing loud music, hosting parties, littering, parking on both sides of the street, and upsetting the nearby homeowners.

Who could blame the neighbors for gritting their teeth? Own a million-dollar home in a fashionable area, and you don’t expect a bunch of fraternity students living next door.

Eppstein lives a block away, but his neighbors chose him to lead the fight. Few people know city hall better than he does. The professional strategist and lobbyist has spent three decades pulling the strings of power. Some of his biggest clients are police and fire unions, local, state and national politicians, and lobbies for clients such as Verizon Communications and the Texas Medical Association.

Few people keep a lower public profile doing this than Eppstein. Usually he’s content to run the show from behind the wizard’s curtain. Now with this Alton Road dispute, he’s gone from peeking through the curtain to practically bursting out in his birthday suit. And it hasn’t been pretty.

“His irritation level may have reached the point where he says, ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I will see that you are kicked out of here,’ along with a dose of ‘Do you know who I am?!’ ” said a local developer who requested anonymity for fear of offending Eppstein. “Taking this issue to these extremes seems shortsighted and out of character.”

*****

15 COMMENTS

  1. Parents know their children have ever mean, and illiterate they are; will graduate from Texas Christian University. That is shame on Fort Worth.

    • Nah, you’re being to hard on the brats Billy. They are just Peckerwood Repug’s kids, entitled, intolerent, and spoiled. All of ’em caught that cheap shit from their families and environment at the Country Club….and so it goes.

      • Benny, you’re a stark raving lune. There’s no way you know the political prefernces and socio-economic backgrounds of every TCU student. In other columns you’ve argued that dark-skinned people are so down-trodden in this country that they don’t have a fair chance. Well, what about the dark-skinned students of TCU? How do they fit into your characterization of spoiled, entitled Repug peckerwoods?

        • The way to bet Stouty, is that ever brat at TCU is offspring of hammer-head Repugs. Sure, it’s not 100 %, but it’s the way to wager, 100% of the time, and you’ll end up with all the money. My bird-dog is smart enough to figure that out, take your meds. Get a life, take a deep breath, don’t comment on here when you’re smoking that sweet stuff. Fool.

  2. Bill and Benny,

    These “illiterate, entitled, ill-mannered thugs and brats” have now defeated the most powerful lobbyist in Texas, Bryan Eppstein, twice over housing issues. Considering Eppstein has far more money and direct influence in Fort Worth than TCU students, I find it ironic that you call us the intolerant and spoiled ones for standing up for ourselves. We love this city as much as you do, and we will not cease to protect our right to live in it. Once again, I direct you to our record on zoning issues with the city.

    • Hey kid, I’m on your side….what gives? I hope and pray you cause each snot-rag, entitled, Bagger bastard within Fort Worth city limits to haul their stinking, whining, ass out of TCU and Foat Wuff! I’m slam certain God will reward you if you can pull it off. Let me know if I can assist you in any form or fashion. You’re in my prayers.

      • WATCH your backs kiddos, you’re fooling with a true-blue rattle-snake with many, many shyster tricks and connections. No fooling. You need to be walking backwards, every step you take. I got you on my Prayer List.

  3. Eppstein wrote the book on the ‘Foat Wuff Way’, he’s more slick than snot on a door-knob. The thought that you will prevail over the creep is slim. You’ve got the same problem here as the young Latino guy who was shot down like a coyote by a Fort Worth Pig out in Diamond Hill recently….the smart money will bet on Eppstein. Right and wrong is for children and squares, and so it goes. Nothing new to see here.

  4. When my husband and I attended TCU the rental housing situation wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now. There were some rental houses but not nearly as many as now. The ones I visited though were were kept in poor shape by the owners. Currently my husband and I are planning to move back the Fort Worth with our family. We are planning to rent a home while we build a home that suits our 3 generation family. During our rental home search we’ve looked at many Fort Worth neighborhoods including the TCU area. Every single TCU area rental home we found available was a flop house that was in such bad shape I wouldn’t let my dog live there. I can completely understand why the residents of the neighborhood mentioned don’t want college students there. I find it disingenuous that the homeowners don’t understand why. Perhaps their former neighbors should invite them to stay with them during a football weekend so that they’d understand why their former neighbors don’t want to live next to college students.

  5. When my husband and I attended TCU the rental housing situation wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now. There were some rental houses but not nearly as many as now. The ones I visited though were kept in poor shape by the owners. Currently my husband and I are planning to move back the Fort Worth with our family. We are planning to rent a home while we build a home that suits our 3 generation family. During our rental home search we’ve looked at many Fort Worth neighborhoods including the TCU area. Every single TCU area rental home we found available was a flop house that was in such bad shape I wouldn’t let my dog live there. I can completely understand why the residents of the neighborhood mentioned don’t want college students there. I find it disingenuous that the homeowners don’t understand why. Perhaps their former neighbors should invite them to stay with them during a football weekend so that they’d understand why their former neighbors don’t want to live next to college students.

LEAVE A REPLY