Oh, It’s OK, We’ll Just Put Them Out of Business

Tonight at the P&Z Meeting there was one item on the agenda…a new Racetrac Convenience Store on 1709.  This is the same applicant that was denied in both 2006 and 2007 and they are trying once again with a new tact…a Planned Development rather than a straight zoning change.

During my questioning on the need for another 24 gas pumps along 1709, the applicant responded that with their new station, the natural progression is that the older, smaller stations would eventually go out of business.  Their reasoning upset me, they basically wanted me to vote to approve their gas station so they could put existing Keller tax paying citizens and hard-working small business owners out of business.  I called them on it. 

 Sure, it’s a free market and competition is good, but their use is not permitted in Keller with a Retail Zoning.  Not only is it not permitted, you aren’t even allowed to apply for a SUP, but somehow found a loop-hole.  Not only that, but this applicant has been denied multiple times before.  To have as a major part of your presentation that you will put people out of business in this economic climate is just plain wrong. 

The video of the meeting isn’t up yet, but I will link to it once it becomes available.  I’ve been told my our City Attorney that I’m not allowed to write about my reasoning behind a vote on this blog or even to a City Council Member to help him or her understand my vote but the video will speak for itself, that and the front page story in the Citizen come Wednesday. 

The reporter for the paper said that my quotes from the meeting were her favorites, so we’ll wait and see what angle she takes with the story.

I did not grant her an interview lest the City Attorney get upset about me expressing my first amendment rights and infringing on the personal property rights of a applicant.

The Racetrac zoning change was approved by P&Z with a vote of 4-3 and will now go in front of City Council in December. 

As regular readers might can read between the lines, I’ve got a little bit of an attitude today, it’s the hat.

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8 responses to “Oh, It’s OK, We’ll Just Put Them Out of Business

  • Jim Carson

    So you think it’s the city’s right or duty to determine how many gas pumps are “needed” within its borders? I’d suggest you reexamine your assumptions.

    It seems clear to me that zoning has only one legitimate purpose: the protection of nearby property owners’ rights. That is, nothing should be allowed to be built that will materially and detrimentally affect other people’s property.

    You’re certainly not alone, though. The good people of Hidden Lakes were adamant that Keller had “too many” gas pumps already.

    We should be governed by laws, not by men. This principle is often misunderstood, but it simply means that we should strive to enact thoughtful laws to which everyone is subject, and grant few if any exceptions. If anyone thinks there should be some limit on the number of gas pumps in Keller, they should get it written into the law, not make it up “on the bench.”

  • Doug Miller

    Jim it is written into the law, I take #1 and #5 below to give me the leway to look at how many pumps there are in town. This wasn’t an SUP application like Quick Trip, but rather a zoning change.

    Section 8.02 (D.1.e) of the UDC states that when considering a zoning change request, the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council shall consider the following factors:

    1) Whether the uses permitted by the proposed change will be appropriate in the immediate area concerned and their relationship to the general area and the City as a whole, and in compliance with the Future Land Use Plan.

    2) Whether the proposed change is in accord with any existing or proposed plans for providing streets, water supply, sanitary sewers, and other utilities to the area, and shall note the findings.

    3) The amount of vacant land currently classified for similar development in the vicinity and elsewhere in the City, and any special circumstances which may make a substantial part of such vacant land unavailable for development.

    4) The recent rate at which land is being developed in the same zoning classification as the request, particularly in the vicinity of the proposed change.

    5) How other areas designated for similar development will be, or are unlikely to be, affected if the proposed amendment is approved.

    6) Any other factors which will substantially affect the health, safety, morals, or general welfare.

  • Jim Carson

    Beware drawing your principles from the law, rather than vice-versa.

  • Doug Miller

    Jim, if I take what you wrote literally, then the station should not have been allowed because it is a non conforming use…period

    You state that

    “We should be governed by laws, not by men. This principle is often misunderstood, but it simply means that we should strive to enact thoughtful laws to which everyone is subject, and grant few if any exceptions”

    This use is not permitted in Retail. You are aware of that so I don’t know where your argument is coming from. They were asking for an exception, and by your logic of not granting them easily, they should not of gotten it on that fact alone.

    You voted many times in your two year tenure to allow uses that didn’t conform to our UDC, so were you governing by your principles from the law or were you going along to get along?

    The reason that gas stations are not an allowed use in Retail in Keller is because the politicians in town (you included) did not include it’s use in the UDC. The elected officials, including yourself, also restricted any new gas station by requiring an SUP in any zoning where it is listed in the use chart.

    You are not free to just come in and pull a permit to build one in Keller and you must face the scrutiny of the P&Z, the City Council and most importantly, the citizens through two seperate public hearings. But you know all of this.

    You and all othe other elected officials current and throughout our history wrote the laws in town, I have just been asked to try to follow them.

    If you felt that gas stations should be a permitted use in all of our zoning districts, then you should have pushed to have that part of the UDC changed while you were in office.

    But don’t ask me to vote to recommend approval of a non conforming use without asking the question if we need more of that use. And don’t expect me to recommend granting it when the applicant states that he will put your existing business owners out of business so you won’t have too many of that non conforming use to worry about.

    And least of all don’t question my principles. They are very sound.

  • Jim Carson

    I’m not arguing with your vote. I’m arguing with your implicit assumption that it is proper for a local government to mandate the number of gas pumps.

    I’d bet a lot of money that if I had asked you before this meeting whether it was appropriate, not only for city officials to declare a limit on the number of gas pumps, but to do so “on the fly” after an applicant had gone to great expense, you would have agreed with me.

    My record of success vis-a-vis zoning and development was poor, but it wasn’t from lack of effort.

  • Thomas

    After reading the article in the Keller Citizen today, they said that Thomas Hoover was the person that made the unfortunate remark about other stations closing down. He may have been representing the applicant, but I would not consider him to be the applicant.

    The flip side of this reasoning, seems to me, that the city shouldn’t be protecting existing businesses at the expense of new ones. Would we want Kroger to block Albertson’s from coming to town? I don’t think so. We just saw that argument used against one charitable organization, that some wanted to keep out of town, to protect an existing group already here.

    I prefer to let the marketplace decide how many gas pumps we need, may the best pump win.

    Two years ago, when this proposal was in front of the council, one councilman said he didn’t like it because he thought RaceTrac might put the smaller stations out of business on 1709. I suspect that is where Mr. Hoover got that idea.

  • Doug Miller

    Jim,

    I still don’t understand your reasoning.

    I don’t have to argue that Keller has enough gas pumps, our City Code does that for me. You have to have at a minimum a SUP to put in more, the people in power have decided for me that they are a restricted use anywhere in town. This reasoning was explained to me at a joint City Council/P&Z Meeting (and I believe you were in attendance) that the city felt there were enough gas stations and didn’t want any more along 1709.

    They have also decided that there are enough banks in Town Center, and have now limited their use by requiring a SUP. How is that any different?

    And you argued long and hard that Keller had enough apartments in Town Center when Keller Station was proposed. How is that any different from gas stations? Both of them were/are not allowed in the zoning district they were proposed, but you seem to be defending gas stations…I wonder why.

    Anywho, have a great Thanksgiving, glad you are back to posting comments, just wish I could talk you into posting posts.

  • Jim Carson

    I never argued Keller had “enough” apartments. I argued that the UDC did not allow apartments in Town Center, plain and simple. I further argued that it was in no one’s best interest to allow an exception in the case of Keller Station.

    I don’t know how to say it any simpler–I think you were generally right to vote as you did, but your stated reason is the most un-American, unlibertarian thing I’ve ever heard you say.

    The only reason I ever voted for RaceTrac was the fact that, prior to 2002, Jack Brock had a legal right to build a gas station on that lot. The city council at that time took that right away by simply changing the definition of Retail zoning.

    I have asked for a justification of the city council’s meeting in secret to discuss the initiative petition for the animal shelter. When I get a reply I’ll do a post on it.

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