Fort Worth, Texas – The City of Fort Worth is holding off on moving forward with the rezoning of a portion of the Hemphill corridor after area residents expressed concerns over gentrification and the raising of property taxes.
The rezoning would affect the area along South Hemphill Street from West Allen Avenue on the north, down to West Felix Street on the south. It’s currently a mix of various zoning designations, so the city wants to create a more uniform district that is “intended to guide expected growth along the corridor in a contextual manner,” according to a city staff report. The area would be zoned mixed use — that is, for residential and commercial uses — under the name “Near Southside General Urban.”
However, nearby residents — including the group Hemphill No Se Vende (which translates to “Hemphill is Not for Sale,” a nod to the area’s predominantly Hispanic community) — voiced concerns over the rezoning, saying development could raise property taxes, force out current residents and business owners, and, ultimately, lead to gentrification.
While the city says it has led community outreach about the rezoning plan since March, some residents contend that they never received a notification. On Dec. 8, Hemphill No Se Vende posted a list of demands on its Facebook page, requesting that the city inform residents about the matter in both English and Spanish, conduct a racial impact study on the systematic effect of zoning changes, and that the Zoning Commission postpone its vote to approve the rezoning for 90 days.
The commission did so on Wednesday, voting unanimously to withdraw the case and revisit it in March 2021 following further communication with residents.
Hemphill No Se Vende also expressed that it would like to see the formation of an independent committee made up of business, residential, and neighborhood association representatives “to ensure equitable participation of the directly impacted community to put forth recommendations of change on the rezoning plan, as necessary.”
Richard Riccetti, chairman of Hemphill Corridor Task Force, the group leading the rezoning initiative, says the city is open to further discussion, including the possibility of making Hemphill a separate, specific district and removing the proposed “Near Southside” moniker.
“Strong neighborhoods [and] civic engagement make any city a better city,” he told participants during the Zoning Commission’s virtual meeting on Wednesday. “I encourage all of those to stay involved and to continue involvement in making Fort Worth a better place.”