Neighborhood Fights Distillery, Rezoning in Southeast Fort Worth

Fort Worth Council Will Decide Rezoning on Tuesday Night

Several important and difficult decisions lay ahead for the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday.

One that will surely attract a large number of speakers pits a neighborhood against a whiskey distiller. It's a zoning case that the zoning commission passed on to the council with a 4-4 tie recommending denial. Despite that recommendation, residents around Glen Garden Golf Club aren't taking any chances. They plan to speak up and in large numbers at Tuesday night's council meeting.

The residents want the golf course to stay the way it is, but they certainly don't want what is being proposed: a whiskey distillery and visitor center.

"Noise, truck traffic coming in and out of the community," said Howard Rattliff.

Rattliff lives across the street from the 102-year-old country club. He and many of his neighbors are all for redevelopment in the area but say this project just isn't a good fit.

"The golf course fits the neighborhood, and the neighborhood fits the golf course," Rattliff said.

The golf club's owners are looking to sell, and Firestone and Robertson Distilling has plans to turn the course into its new facility. The distiller is currently based on West Vickery Street on the Near Southside. Site plans show the access to the distillery will be from Mitchell Boulevard and not through the neighborhood like the current golf course requires.

Plans call for a distillery, bottling plant and visitor center to be based around one of the course's lakes. Most of the 100 acres of the course will remain green space, according to the city, but residents are concerned it could grow and that there could be noise, odor and mold problems.

Firestone and Robertson Distilling told NBC 5 it had no comment regarding the zoning change. But the company does have some support, as many letters have been sent to the council in support. The club's current owners say the company "is a good suitor for our property because of its intended use of the land and desire to showcase the Club's history."

The Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce is also in support, writing to the council to say: "The rezoning will create a unique opportunity for tourism in Southeast Fort Worth. It will continue the economic expansion and growth of Southeast Fort Worth."

Mayor Betsy Price says it is a tough decision before the council. She says the council rarely goes against residents' desires, but that a project that would bring economic revitalization to the area is one to consider.

"Certainly we're going to listen to what the citizens all say [Tuesday] night, listen to the e-mails that are coming in and we'll make an educated decision then," Mayor Price said.

For Rattliff and Jackie Hogan Towery, along with more than 2,000 others who've signed a petition, they hope that decision will be a "no."

"This is just something that shouldn't be done, Towery said.

Towery's father and uncle, Ben Hogan, caddied and played the course back in the 1920's and she doesn't want that history to be lost.

"It's very valuable to the community and especially to the neighborhoods," Towery said.

Towery grew up in the neighborhood and believes a similar plan near other residential country clubs would be immediately rejected.

Other Issues

The council will also be considering rezoning for the Fort Worth Stockyards. The rezoning was something council members told stakeholders they would put in place to protect the historic nature of the Stockyards.

However, the zoning commission recommended the council deny the current proposal. The city council agreed to give $26 million in incentives for a $175 million redevelopment project for the Stockyards. Many stakeholders were concerned the historic western ways could be lost if the redevelopment wasn't done right.

The city council will also pass a resolution in support of a new arena near the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The arena will not be taxpayer funded, but it will help the city improve WRMC as well as its convention hall space. The council will receive a briefing on how to improve the convention center on Tuesday afternoon.

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