At the June 27 City Council meeting, small businesses dominated most of the session. The meeting opened with a public hearing over a proposed permit that would allow a motorcycle and ATV repair shop to operate on the corner of Russell Street and Large Avenue. After no public comment, a second public hearing opened over the request for a permit that would allow a automotive body and repair shop to operate. Both passed with a 7-0 vote after the public hearings.
Later, Council Member Adrian Gaspar brought up and entertained the idea of having a business park in Manvel. A business park is a space that contains multiple commercial buildings, allowing a designated area for small businesses to operate. City Manager Kyle J. Jung endorsed the idea by saying, “There’s a lack of buildings for businesses in town.”
The idea of a business park in Manvel could not be decided upon in that meeting because it was exactly that – an idea. Gaspar acknowledged that much more planning would be required in a public work such as the business park. “Now you have an idea of some options that are available. It’s food for thought,” Gaspar said, addressing his fellow council members.
Moving forward, Council Member John Cox opened a discussion criticizing the lengthy amount of time it takes for a small business owner to be allowed to operate by the city. Cox brought up the example of how long it took for the motorcycle and ATV repair shop from earlier in the meeting to be legally permitted to operate. According to Cox, it took two months for the permit to be granted, and many small business owners do not have that sort of time to wait around.
Worried that the extraneous process of approvals, public hearings and legal tape deters small business from opening shop in Manvel, Cox said, “Do we want small businesses in Manvel or don’t we? It’s ridiculous.” However, in order to shave down time, board members discovered one would have to bypass the strategic urban planning (SUP) process. SUP allows City Council to review any proposed new business that may want to open in Manvel.
A great amount of opposition met Cox when the council realized the cost of shaving the time it took when granting permit to business owners. Many felt that by bypassing the SUP process, unregulated businesses and activity would alter Manvel for the worse. Stand-in Attorney Kim Mickelson reminded the council the purpose of SUP when she said, “You need to ask yourself what you want Highway 6 to look like. SUP allows you to look at site-specific use.”
After further discussion, the idea of allowing businesses that are commonly permitted to operate in Manvel to bypass the SUP process was proposed. However, the city council moved on without any firm action.
City Council meeting agendas are posted online 72 hours in advance. The next scheduled meeting is Monday on the second week of July.
Story and photo by Aiden Park