New ordinance makes many tenants of new business park legal non-conforming
HALTOM CITY, TX, November 10, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Valued by Tarrant Appraisal District at $4.9 million dollars, 5920 Lower Birdville Road is a newly constructed business park, exactly the kind of new development the leaders of Haltom City want, according to Haltom United Business Alliance Member and local developer Ron Sturgeon.
“It’s so beautiful and well done, and just blocks from my real estate company here in Haltom City,” said Sturgeon. The only drawback of the new business park is that it has several automotive tenants that the council recently made legal nonconforming, added Sturgeon.
“When they move, the landlord will likely be forced to find new types of tenants because Haltom City Council members have made it clear they don’t want automotive businesses in any parts of the city,” noted Sturgeon.
Many kinds of auto uses are now permitted only in the industrial and heavy industrial districts, provided the applicant completes all the requirements to get a conditional use permit, which include several rounds of public hearings.
“At a recent Conditional Use Permit hearing for a proposed business in this park, Councilmember Marian Hilliard (Place 1) voted against an exotic detailing business because, according to her, she was concerned about the fumes from the cars and disposal of fluids,” said Sturgeon.
The applicant did get his CUP, but it was more hassle than it should have been, according to Sturgeon. “A park like Lower Birdville is ideal for such a business,” he added.
Ironically, there is also a welding shop in the park, it is an allowed use without any public hearings,” noted Sturgeon. Apparently, the council is not concerned about fumes or fluids from a welding shop. Both uses are perfect for an industrial district and should be allowed, he said.
Some Haltom City Council members have publicly blamed the failure of businesses in the city on the existence of too much competition,” said Joe Palmer, HUBA’s Communications Director.
“HUBA believes that Haltom City Council members should not be picking winners and losers by protecting some existing businesses from new competitors. The recent counting of businesses and determination of whether or not there are too many of a particular kind is not only an example of economically illiterate policy, but a clear sign of misguided leadership,” said Palmer. Palmer maintains that the success or failure of any given business is better left to consumers than elected officials.
“There are exceptions to be sure, such as sexually oriented business and game rooms, but treating automotive businesses like those with high-intensity controversial uses is just not appropriate,” said Palmer.
HUBA believes that everyone in Haltom City wins when there is competition, and that the city needs more small entrepreneurial businesses to fill all the vacant buildings, especially in the southern and central parts of the city.
“The owner spent millions to build this beautiful new business park, only to be the first victim of this weaponized ordinance that will eliminate at least a third of his potential tenants,” said Sturgeon. That loss will lead to lower rents, lower property values, and lower tax revenue for the city over the years, insists the longtime Haltom City businessman.
“Another property recently posted for sale, 4006 E. Belknap, an automotive shop, is likely to see his property hard to sell and see a big price reduction as a buyer figures out that the city wants the use changed. “I have significant commercial real estate holdings in Tarrant County, and love mom-and- pop businesses and automotive, but I won’t make an offer on these properties because I don’t want to fight with the city every time I get a new tenant,” said Sturgeon.
As more and more buyers, and especially investors for the more expensive projects find out how overbearing Haltom City’s rules are, they simply will buy commercial real estate in other cities. This process drives rents lower, which further lowers the value of commercial property in Haltom City, insisted Sturgeon.
Our council just doesn’t understand these principles, according to Sturgeon. “I agree that if our choice is lower rents versus game rooms that the trade is worth it but running out all these other businesses and making it hard for other types of commercial businesses to come to the city isn’t in the long-term interests of the city,” said Sturgeon.
“Investors for these larger projects just don’t have time to fight with the city, especially on a complex like this one with small multi-tenant use spaces. It’s sad, since there are so many heavy uses that could move in without public hearings, like a welding shop, service of heavy equipment business or even a power generation plant, a freight terminal, yet an exotic auto detail shop must get a CUP,” added Sturgeon.
The city even requires businesses such as dry cleaners and swimming pool accessories sales stores to have public hearings in most commercial zones, so it is not surprising that Haltom City has so much vacant commercial property. “Landlords are frustrated with the ability to get tenants, and the city is frustrated by the vacancies, and realtors have openly said they don’t show commercial space in Haltom City as it’s too hard to get folks moved in,” noted Sturgeon.
“We know that realtors are also having an increasingly difficult time in Haltom City as a result of this ordinance. It is no surprise that buyers are less interested when a difficult application process is compounded by outright preemptive denial for automotive-related businesses,” said Sturgeon.
“I do feel sorry for the seller, who could see his value reduced. The council wanted no more automotive businesses, and many of the 200 that were made legal non-conforming have to know they are not wanted in Haltom City,” continued the longtime Haltom City business owner.
“It’s the same as in 2003, when they passed a new zoning category that made almost all car dealers legal non-conforming. Twenty years later, those businesses are sure enough gone. Northeast 28th Street is a decrepit ghost town, as the City Council back then had no plan to replace those lost businesses,” explained Sturgeon. “Property after property, seller after seller, year after year; the property values decline as rents decline, and the older properties end up vacant for long periods,” explained Sturgeon. The city’s recently hired revitalization consultant, who is proposing a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, stated that a lot of the buildings were “decrepit” in a recent public hearing.
HUBA presented the council with proposed changes to the table of uses, along with a third-party study outlining ways to grow small businesses, but the council dismissed both outright, according to Palmer.
“We really need to find one or two small business owners willing to run for Haltom City Council in the coming election. We would also like to see more diversity on the city council because Haltom City also has a 47% Hispanic population and we are ready to see the council be inclusive, including the business community as stakeholders,” said Palmer.
Direct knowledge and experience in the business community can only improve discussions about how to grow the city’s tax base and thereby ease the property tax burden on our residents,” said Sturgeon. Persons interested in becoming candidates should contact Joe Palmer at [email protected].
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and to nurture small business growth, including automotive businesses. HUBA would also like to see more restaurants including breweries and a major grocery store come to Haltom City. HUBA is focused on strengthening the business tax base in Haltom City so that Haltom residents do not face tax increases. HUBA is also focused on reducing regulations and red tape that slow new business formation in Haltom City or impede the growth of Haltom City’s existing small businesses. HUBA supports having at least two members of Haltom City Council who have owned small businesses and would like to see greater representation for members of Haltom City’s Hispanic community on City Council. Although HUBA does not endorse candidates, HUBA believes that voters benefit from having a variety of qualified candidates to choose from. If you are interested in running for Haltom City Council and would like to discuss your vision for Haltom City, please contact Joe Palmer. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe 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 and are a vital part of the city’s economy. Haltom City has an 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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