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We don't believe that it is the proper place for local politicians to try to dictate the number of a particular kind of business that a city has. ---Joe Palmer, HUBA Communications Director
HALTOM CITY, TX, July 06, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Shortly after citizens in Haltom City celebrate Independence Day on July 4, Haltom City Council will take up a proposed amendment to the city's zoning ordinance at its meeting on July 12, 2021.
If approved, the amendment will make it even harder to open many kinds of automotive businesses in Haltom City by restricting where they can operate to only districts with M-1 (industrial) and M-2 (heavy industrial) zoning and by requiring new businesses in these categories to get a conditional use permit to open, even in those industrial districts.
The Haltom City Planning and Zoning Committee held a public hearing to review the conditional-use-permitting but did not pass out the proposed changes to attendees. The proposed changes were supplied to HUBA member Ron Sturgeon after he made a public information request.
Haltom City's own description of uses appropriate for M-2 zoning reads as follows: "The district is intended for those uses that would manifest clear negative impacts on surrounding land uses and as such must be sited to avoid environmental degradation." The city describes the goal of M-1 zoning as "to regulate those uses of the land that cause the manufacturing assembly, processing, storage and/or distribution, sale of and repair of materials, goods, parts, products, equipment, machinery, and other such operations incidental to industrial uses."
HUBA contends that neither description accurately describes the commercial businesses (tire shops, lube shops, etc.) that the city wants to restrict to areas with either M-1 or M-2 zoning.
Sturgeon said, "Many of the uses not permitted in the industrial districts simply don't meet the city's definition of intense industrial businesses, so it's clear that the city is using its authority to discriminate against many businesses and simply not allow them, by forcing very non-intensive commercial businesses to have to have hearings to even consider being allowed to open in the heaviest industrial districts."
If this amendment is approved, in Haltom City, almost any automotive-related use will be considered so intense that it must be allowed only with a conditional use permit, even in industrial districts, according to Sturgeon.
"It has gotten beyond ridiculous when simple commercial automotive businesses, such as tire stores or lube shops, cannot even open their doors in the industrial parts of the city without months of delays and extensive hearings," added Sturgeon.
"We think enacting this amendment would be a mistake for Haltom City, the city already has a lot of vacant commercial properties in central and south Haltom City, and it should be trying to bring small businesses to the city, rather than raising the barriers to entry," said Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) Executive Director Drew Weakley.
One Haltom City Council Member hinted at the way she would vote on the amendment when she said that she felt that Haltom City already has enough tire stores.
HUBA, a group of local business owners seeking to help the city attract more small businesses, is opposed to the amendment for practical and philosophical reasons.
"We certainly understand the need for zoning to control intensive uses and to make sure the proposed uses are in harmony with surrounding businesses, but it is hard to argue that a tire store or a quick lube really doesn't belong where other similar commercial and retail uses are allowed," said HUBA Member Ron Sturgeon, a local businessman who opened his first business in Haltom City more than 40 years ago.
"Our other objection to the proposed amendment is philosophical," said HUBA Director of Communications Joe Palmer. "We don't believe that it is the proper place for local politicians to try to dictate the number of a particular kind of business that a city has," said Palmer. That should be left to competition and the marketplace to decide, Palmer said.
"A new tire store or a new quick lube or new repair shop means new jobs in Haltom City, and it means new businesses providing services that drivers in Haltom City want and contributing to the business tax base," said Palmer.
"Making any businessperson who wants to start one of these auto-related businesses jump through hoops for months to see if they can even open here means very few ever will get started in Haltom City," added Palmer.
The amendment also makes all these kinds of businesses that are outside M-I or M-2 zoning areas legal non-conforming, a designation that will make it hard for the owners of those businesses to get the permits needed to make improvements to their properties or to expand because the use does not fit with the city's plan for the area.
"Haltom City did the same thing to the small car dealers along NE 28th Street in 2002 when it did a previous overall of the zoning rules," said Sturgeon. "An area that once had a lot of well-kept small businesses has become a real eyesore because lot owners have been designated legal non-conforming and can't get permits to make needed improvements or to expand," added Sturgeon.
"As Americans, we are blessed with liberty to pursue our own forms of happiness and that freedom is precious," said Sturgeon. For some businesspeople, that pursuit of happiness involves opening a small business like a tire store, an auto repair, or a quick lube shop, and there should be a place for that in Haltom City without a bunch of public hearings, according to Sturgeon.
HUBA believes Haltom City should have zoning rules that allow those kinds of businesses to exist in places where similar businesses are allowed. The city should also have processes that allow such businesses to open in Haltom City without months of delay and rounds of public hearings because the people who live in Haltom City want such businesses in the business districts of the city.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to give members of Haltom City's business community an advocate and to keep those businesses informed about issues that affect them. They want to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and nurture small business growth, including automotive businesses, and bring more restaurants including breweries and a major grocery store to the city. New businesses and growth in existing businesses will create a stronger tax base which will allow the city to pay its first responders wages that are competitive with surrounding cities while improving Haltom City's facilities and infrastructure. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Drew Weakley at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group's Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents included a once thriving automotive industry. The city has seen a decline in small businesses, especially automotive businesses. The city is healthy financially, with median household income growing around 8% in the past year. Haltom City has opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city's center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses, but they can only do as directed by the council.
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