Councilman John Hoffmann's statement:
"Last night, the Keller City Council voted against allowing a food truck
park in Old Town Keller. The vote was 4-3, and I was one of the three
votes (along with Council members Doug Miller and Tom Cawthra) who
supported the proposal.
In my initial
comments on the subject during the council meeting, I voiced support
for the food truck park idea but let it be known I had some concerns
about the variance requests related to lighting, the gravel parking
surface and the dumpster. Eventually, I heard enough information to get
past those concerns and vote in favor of this exciting, new concept. We
were working toward granting the developer at two-year “specific use
permit,” which is common for new ideas, so that we could give him a fair
chance to make his business work. That also would have given us a
chance in two years to tie his SUP renewal to making some improvements
to meet more of the standards (such as the lighting, etc.).
completely understand some of the comments made about not forgiving
those standards now. We have held some businesses to our standards while
also letting others slide. I was quoted in the newspaper as saying we
have been “consistently inconsistent” about such things, and we’re going
to have to rectify that at some point. (http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/07/17/4106852/keller-city-council-nixes-proposed.html)
But what astounded me were the comments made by an Old Town restaurant
owner and some of my council colleagues that it “wasn’t fair” to allow
the food trucks. They said the existing restaurants have spent so much
money on their businesses, and we have to protect their investments.
They claimed they are okay with competition, but apparently not this
competition. They have been okay with the city helping existing
restaurants with façade grants, parking improvements and better
lighting, but not with helping this food truck park.
Talk about a double standard.
Last night’s vote was protectionism at its worst. Two years ago, we
couldn’t beg business owners to open up shop in Old Town. The merchants
wanted literally anything that would help bring traffic into that area.
Now, Old Town is starting to flourish, and suddenly we’re saying “no” to
legitimate business concepts because their new, innovative ideas don’t
cost the same amount of money to get started. I always thought the whole
purpose of running a business was to spend the least amount of money to
make the most amount of money. These food truck guys may have found a
better way to do just that, but the opponents resisted innovation to
protect the businesses that took a more traditional approach. So much
for free enterprise and calling yourself “pro-business.”
also heard one citizen compare the supposedly unsightly and pedestrian
food trucks to the fine dining options available in Roanoke or
Southlake, then say we need to bring in more restaurants like that. We
can spend the next 20 years wishing we had a town center like Southlake
or as many restaurants as Roanoke. But I’d rather spend that time and
energy building a better, unique Keller than trying to replicate what’s
going on down the road.
We had the chance to welcome a new
business to Keller -- a business that would be one-of-a-kind in
Northeast Tarrant County and draw people to our community. But last
night, we said “no” to new business, “no” to innovation, and “no” to a
bright, young developer who chose Keller to implement his idea. I think
we made a mistake, and hope we can find a way to fix it.
I just hope he doesn’t take his idea to Roanoke first."
- Keller City Councilman John Hoffmann
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