A dispute over a convenience store’s sign in North Fort Worth has turned into an extraordinary legal battle – with the city suing its own zoning board.
The 7-Eleven at Heritage Trace Parkway and Riverside Drive applied to the Board of Adjustment to replace a small sign out front with a new one roughly twice as large. It would also include electronic numbers to show gas prices.
The board, whose members are appointed by the mayor and council, voted 7-2 to allow the store to install the larger sign.
City Council member Cary Moon, who lives in the nearby Heritage neighborhood, opposes the new sign, saying it's not in line with other businesses in the same area.
He convinced the city attorney to file a lawsuit against the board to appeal its decision.
The suit, in the name of City Manager David Cooke, was filed Monday.
Assistant City Attorney Chris Mosely said the city planned to drop the case after other council members failed to sign off on it.
The city filed the suit without initially consulting other council members because of a tight deadline, Mosely said.
Separately, Moon then filed his own suit and said the Heritage Homeowners Association planned to join him. Heritage is a sprawling neighborhood that includes 3,000 homes and 9,000 people.
"It's a residential street and we don't need a highway sign on it," Moon said.
Ironically, the city attorney will now flip sides, defending the board in the same case it originally had filed, Mosely said.
Mosely added it's a simple case and the judge will likely decide after reading the available documents.
Moon said he will ask for a hearing.
Brian Buell, who owns a bike shop next to the 7-Eleven, said he’s not overly concerned about the sign but that it should fit in with the neighborhood.
"It's going to stick out in this area,” Buell said. “It'll make it easier for them to change the gas prices, OK, I get that. But as far as going that tall, it probably doesn't need to be that big."
Moon said he may file lawsuits in other cases if, in his view, the adjustment board sides with businesses over neighorhoods.
"Over the last year there have been 26 special exceptions applied for on signage and 24 of those have been approved which is an alarming number,” Moon said.
The adjustment board is quasi-judicial and unable to comment on cases outside of a public hearing, a city official said.
7-Eleven, which is not a part of the lawsuit, did not return an email seeking comment.