NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Following outcry, Fort Worth reduces industrial development in southeast neighborhood

Fort Worth resident Charles Smith speaks in favor of the zoning proposal during a May 21 City Council meeting.
Camilo Diaz
Fort Worth Report
Fort Worth resident Charles Smith speaks in favor of the zoning proposal during a May 21 City Council meeting.

Two mostly undeveloped properties spanning 7.11 acres in southeast Fort Worth can now be used to build residential properties — a change that some proponents say will help mitigate air pollution and health issues in the predominantly Black and Hispanic community.

Located at 4550 Village Creek Road and 4519 Moorview Ave. in the Village Creek neighborhood, the properties were previously zoned for industrial use, which allowed for various commercial developments. The change to residential zoning allows for uses such as multifamily or single-family homes, townhomes and duplexes.

Fort Worth City Council members voted unanimously to approve the rezoning during their May 21 meeting, concluding a yearslong back-and-forth between residents, environmental activists and council members over industrial development in southeast Fort Worth.

Council member Jeanette Martinez, who represents the Village Creek neighborhood, initiated the rezoning project as a response to environmental and health concerns voiced by the neighborhood’s residents.

“It’s through public feedback that we went with a low-density, multifamily (use), which is a better fit and will serve as a buffer between the single-family residential (homes) and the heavy industrial (uses) that are in place on the east side of Village Creek,” Martinez said before the vote.

The two properties sit adjacent to the Echo Heights neighborhood, a residential community that sits among more than 180 industrial facilities. The properties are bordered by single-family homes and an 1,800-square-foot private cemetery to the west, the Eugene McCray Community Center to the north, Highway 287 to the south, and industrial use to the east.

Council member Jeanette Martinez discusses the rezoning proposal during a May 21 council meeting.
Camilo Diaz
Fort Worth Report
Council member Jeanette Martinez discusses the rezoning proposal during a May 21 council meeting.

Martinez’s proposal to rezone the property is somewhat uncommon but not unprecedented. Usually, would-be developers request zoning changes in order to allow their prospective projects, but council members can also request such changes.

In 2023, council member Elizabeth Beck initiated a proposal to rezone Ryan Place, a neighborhood she represents in south Fort Worth near Texas Christian University. She introduced the initiative in order to protect the nature and character of the neighborhood, while essentially limiting college housing.

The quest to rezone properties in southeast Fort Worth dates back to at least 2022, when residents said they noticed an uptick in illnesses, especially cancer, among their neighbors. They cited the surrounding industrial facilities as major producers of air pollution.

To address these concerns, city officials have taken several steps, such as adopting an amended land use plan that increased the distance between industrial facilities and residential homes in southeast Fort Worth. The Village Creek rezoning came as a result of that land use plan, Martinez said.

At the May 21 meeting, several residents raised health concerns to council before the vote. In addition to pollution and health challenges, they said the high volume of industrial trucks in the area raises safety issues.

Perry Williams with the Village Creek Neighborhood Association told council members that they had an opportunity to correct years of environmental injustice in the area. He added that the city of Fort Worth is often touted as one of the most livable cities in the nation, but that hasn’t been true for the residents of Village Creek because of the heavy industrial use they’ve had to endure in their neighborhood.

“The ball has been dropped, but the best thing about the ball dropping is you can pick it up,” Williams said. “Pick the ball up. Let’s make the whole city of Fort Worth the most livable city.”

Art Anderson, a lawyer representing the property’s owner, previously told council that the zoning change would be unconstitutional and violate property owners’ rights. When the property owners purchased the land in 2022, it was zoned for industrial use, and they had no idea this zoning change was coming, he added during the May 21 meeting.

Now that the change has been approved, Anderson is unsure how they’ll move forward with the property.

“We have to weigh the options,” Anderson told the Report after the May 21 vote. “We’d be open to a discussion about the city purchasing the property, but how all that plays out is hard to predict.”

During the meeting, Mayor Mattie Parker said the city manager’s office is already in discussions to consider purchasing the property in the future.

Patrina Newton, a retired planner for the city of Fort Worth who lives near Echo Heights, said that although the zoning change has been approved, there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding the land’s future, regardless of whether the city purchases it. She hopes Martinez continues to prioritize the community’s needs as the city decides its next move.

“Hopefully there’s some serious effort put into this, and things will turn out favorably. It will help preserve a neighborhood that’s been there since probably the late 1950s,” Newton told the Report. “It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but it’s vulnerable because it’s close to a freeway. We don’t need any more external threats to the neighborhood like all that industrial use.”

Cecilia Lenzen is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or @bycecilialenzen on X. 

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.