Some East Fort Worth residents who are trying to stop a natural gas compressor station from moving into their neighborhood are celebrating a zoning victory.
The proposed site would house 15 compressors about a mile and a half east of Loop 820 on Randol Mill Road.
Zoning commission meetings are rarely emotional, but dozens of residents of Mallard Cove and River Trails said this issue is very emotional.
"We worry about the decline in our quality of life," Gretchen Demke said during the hearing, becoming overwhelmed with emotion.
Demke and several others told the commission they don't want a large natural gas compressor station to be placed about a half mile from their homes.
"It's hard not to be emotional about your home, your property and your family, and that's what this is about," Demke said after the hearing. "And that's what this affects, it affects all of those things, and it hits me to my core."
About 80 percent of residents have signed petitions opposing the project, and dozens filled City Council chambers for the hearing Wednesday.
The project would put 15 compressors, 10 of which would be electric, at an old equestrian center.
The compressors are a vital part of the transmission process for natural gas, and there are several gas pipelines and well sites nearby. It's the main reason Texas Midstream Gas Service, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, says the site is ideal for them to meet the needs of its customers.
"There is no other site available," said Bill Dalhstrom of Jackson Walker, LLP, which brought the zoning change to the city. "We have complied with all of your rules and regulations. We meet or exceed all of your standards."
But the zoning commission voted unanimously to deny the zoning change, in part because of all the public support in opposition.
"The request to change is not compatible and not consistent with our comprehensive plan," said the commissioner who represents the area, Charles Edmonds. "Now if the neighborhood was in favor of a change and they liked what you're doing, then the commission might be inclined to permit an exception."
The vote came minutes after the commission addressed a request from TMGS to extend the hearing on the zoning change for another 30 days. But commissioners said they felt an extension would be useless because residents are not likely to change their minds.
"The impression that is given with your continued request for a continuance is to wear these people down," Commissioner Ann Zadeh said.
But despite little victories that residents were not entirely expecting, they know they'll be back in council chambers again soon.
"I don't think this battle is over by any means. This is just the beginning," Demke said.
The zoning commission's decision now goes before the City Council in December. Residents say they will continue to show up in large numbers to oppose a zoning change.