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Zoning Mistake Stops Property Owner From Opening Business

By Joel Thomas CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Every city does it – they decide what can or can’t be built in your neighborhood. Its called zoning.

But one Fort Worth man found he couldn’t rebuild his business because of the city’s zoning mistake.

Harold Hamilton’s property is in the Stop Six neighborhood, an area in need of revitalization. Hamilton is hoping to open some doors of opportunity for his son.

He wants to refurbish the business property he’s had for twenty years so his son can open a restaurant or barber shop.  Hamilton had once run a barbeque restaurant on the site and had leased it out as a beauty salon after that.

The building has been vacant for more than 2 years and Hamilton says he has already spent $10,000 on improvements. But when he went to the city for a building permit the project was stopped in its tracks.

“They told me it had been rezoned,” Hamilton said.  “I said, ‘What do you mean rezoned?’ Because its been commercial forever. But they had rezoned it to some kind of residential.

The City Council decided in 2008 only homes would be granted new building permits in the area around Hamilton’s property with only a few exceptions.

They’d hoped to make that part of Stop Six a corridor of single family homes. Now Hamilton can’t reinvest in his own neighborhood.

“To me,  if its a business where it can help the neighborhood with more job opportunites, yeah,” said Deborah Stevenson, a neighbor of the property.

Hamilton’s business property has commercial propery on either side of it.  According to city sources, Hamilton’s property was zoned for residential prior to 2008 but was given an exemption because it fit into the commercial properties on either side.  Somehow that was overlooked when the neighborhood was rezoned in 2008.

“It fell through the cracks,” said the council member for the area, Frank Moss. “We didn’t catch it. He didn’t come to the meetings and catch it. And I don’t know why we went ahead and zoned it a single family instead of commercial.  But we’re going back to try to correct that error.”

Moss and fellow council member Sal Espino will ask the council to change the zoning of Hamilton’s property and they may ask the council to look for more effective means of rezoning in the future.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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