The City of Grapevine is working on a new ordinance in the historic district that will restrict size of homes, size of garages, distance between homes, and require presentation of photographs and drawings of construction proposals including the homes on both sides of construction areas. The ordinance is being developed under the guise of protecting the historic nature of the area.
Many residents on both sides of the issue gathered and voiced their concerns at the last two joint Planning and Zoning / City Council meetings.
Here are the problems:
Lack of Communication
Lack of communication is a recurring theme with city government. Given that this is the largest issue facing the city council today, you would think the city could make an extra effort to communicate the issue effectively. Here is a simple test. Go try to find the proposed ordinance regarding the new property rights in Grapevine’s historic district. Good luck.
The city should make an effort to place the proposed ordinance where it easy to find on the city website. Maybe even a link to in on the main page.
The proposed ordinance reduces the rights of property owners. Property owners would only be allowed to build a home or add on to an existing home to a maximum of 3,400 square feet in the historic district. The problem is the lots in this area are a wide range of sizes so putting a cookie cutter limitation on home size does not make much sense. And the size restriction is just the start of the restrictions.
The process of making construction changes becomes more rigorous and costly given the new restrictions. Homeowners would have to submit drawings and photographs of the proposed construction and surrounding houses to comply with the proposed ordinance. They would be at the mercy of the Historic Preservation Commission on construction decisions. Not surprisingly, the ordinance is complicated and nuanced.
As a side note, Lazy Bones, a long time bar and restaurant in the historic district burned down over a year ago. At the time Lazy Bones was destroyed, the owner was quoted as saying he wanted to rebuild the restaurant exactly like it was before. Construction has not started on the new Lazy Bones and we can only imagine why.
Historic Preservation Commission
At last Tuesdays city council meeting, one home owner referred to the Historic Preservation Commission as a “Home owners association on steroids.” Whether that is accurate or not is still to be determined, but we cannot figure out why anyone would vote for giving up control of their property to such a commission.
This ordinance gives the Historic Preservation Commission new power and control over construction and renovation in the historic district. As mentioned earlier, this will not make the construction process any faster. City government is notoriously slow moving and Grapevine is no different in that regard.
Toward the end of the council meeting, Mayor William D. Tate commented that he did not hear any new suggestions in regard to changes to the proposed ordinance. Here’s our suggestion: Come up with a new ordinance with the sole purpose of giving property owners in the historic district more rights, not less.