Fort Worth residents have until June 4 to share their thoughts on whether or not the city should be allowed to amend a federal flood as part of the construction of the new City Hall.
The comment period is needed for the city to obtain a Section 408 permit, which will allow construction crews to begin grading at the former Pier 1 building at 100 Energy Way.
When the city initially purchased the new City Hall building, it did so unaware that the building plans would conflict with a federal flood. The city spent $7.6 million in delays and permitting costs related to the proposed flood modification, which would allow for the creation of a 28,000-square-foot building, parking lot, sidewalk, driveways and plaza.
What is a Section 408 permit, anyway?
The city is going through a lengthy and costly process with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to obtain a Section 408 permit. A 408 permit allows an applicant to modify a civil works project, such as a course easement. water, when the change won’t harm the public or reduce the project’s effectiveness, said Clay Church, a public affairs specialist at the corps’ Fort Worth district.
The process delayed construction by about 18 months, according to previous coverage by the Fort Worth Report. While the building was initially expected to open to the public later this year, developers now expect the new Fort Worth City Council chambers to open in 2024.
Now, the Army Corps of Engineers will consider public comments before making a final decision on the construction plan. Tanyan Farley of Athenian Group, who serves as project manager for New City Hall, acknowledged that a long process has led up to this moment.
“There are many well-documented, well-written, well-thought-out rules and regulations to keep people safe to ensure we don’t negatively impact federal flooding,” Farley said. “We’ve had a great partnership between TRWD and the Corps of Engineers and we’re happy to be in this period of public comment.”
How do I post a public comment?
The public notice is available here. Comments should be sent to [email protected] before June 4 and reference the Section 408 Request ID # and project name. Request ID no. it is 408-SWF-2022-0004 and the project name is Fort Worth City Hall.
Telephone inquiries and requests for additional information should be directed to Jason Story, at (817) 886-1852, or to [email protected].
Comments supporting, opposing, or identifying concerns that the Corps of Engineers should consider in its decision-making are all welcome, according to the agency’s public notice released May 5.
The Corps of Engineers will decide whether to accept the modification request based on various evaluation factors, including the impacts on the utility of the spillway, if the alteration has negative impacts on the population and if it complies with environmental regulations.
So far, the federal agency has already determined that the alteration will not harm endangered or threatened species or affect historic properties, according to the public notice.
Farley is confident the Corps of Engineers will evaluate the public’s comments without issue and allow permission to move forward. Once all relevant agencies, including the Tarrant Regional Water District, have signed off on the permit, the City of Fort Worth can begin grading the site and preparing it for foundation work.
“It’s the first domino, if you will, for a number of others,” Farley said.
Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at [email protected] or through Chirping. Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact them at [email protected].
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