Only three candidates responded to the survey, Cindy Sturgeon and Jeff Barlett, candidates for Mayor, and Charlie Roberts, candidate for City Council, Place 1
HALTOM CITY, TX, April 18, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — In March, Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) mailed a survey to all of the candidates running for mayor and all of the candidates for Haltom City Council who will appear on the ballot for this May’s citywide election.
HUBA indicated that it would share candidate responses with voters in early April. Only three candidates responded, and the questions and their responses are reproduced below. Their answers are published EXACTLY as submitted. You can contact candidates for discussion at their Facebook page or locate their contact info at the city website.
1. Would you support sensible arrangements for liquor in Haltom City to promote more restaurants, breweries, and bars?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes.
Jeff Barlett Yes.
Charlie Roberts: Yes, and also would like to see entertainment venues come here with the ability to sell adult beverages.
2. Do you agree that South and Central parts of the city need a plan to revitalize them?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes, I do.
Jeff Barlett: No. I personally think it is the role of the free market to do this not the city government.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. A plan for revitalization tailored specifically for Haltom City should be developed and implemented to stop the deterioration.
3. Our study shows a 20% vacancy rate in the main corridors. How would you propose that we get all those vacant older buildings occupied?
Cindy Sturgeon: Haltom City needs to ask themselves–at a time when 1000’s of people are moving to Texas, many to Tarrant County, why is Haltom City a food desert? Why do grocers not want to be here? Why do restaurants not want to be here? I would seek the answers to these questions. We need to create metrics to track inquiries vs actual takers. Asking ourselves the hard questions as to WHY. I believe input from those who say “no thank you” holds the key to the answers the city needs. It might even be good to hire an unbiased firm to gather these answers for the city.
Jeff Barlett: The City council should go through the city code and look for as many ways legally possible to help deregulate business owners in areas that don’t interfere with public safety. I personally think cutting back on excessive regulations will help bring more business in and help grow the economy.
Charlie Roberts: My plan to get the vacant buildings occupied would begin with understanding the reasons for the vacancies. I need to hear directly from the property owners and prospective developers what their perspective is on why the vacancies are hard to fill.
4. City staff have the ability to make administrative decisions as allowed by codes. Would you like to see staff to make more administrative decisions without requiring a hearing or exception to help citizens and businesses?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes. We have hired staff we believe to be competent/ able who understand the dynamics and the codes. We should be able to allow them some discretion. At this critical juncture in the life and prosperity of our city, I think all options bear at least a discussion.
Jeff Barlett: Yes.
Charlie Roberts: No. I would like the codes to be written in a way that addresses the needs of the city. I think written allowances take away the inevitable human factor of personal preferences.
5. There have been many recent business closings and vacant lots, some as a result of the difficulty to open or expand businesses in Haltom City, mostly in the south and central districts. What steps would you like to see City Council take to address this issue?
Cindy Sturgeon: Again, there needs to be metrics and follow up to those who hard pass to discover why they leave, don’t expand or don’t open at all in Haltom City. If it is true that it is due to something the city can change to make it better and retain our current businesses, then, yes, it certainly needs a discussion and a plan.
Jeff Barlett: I want to see the city council and the city attorney hold a meeting going through the city code to look for as many ways legally possible to deregulate business owners while ensuring safety standards are met.
Charlie Roberts: As previously stated, I need to understand the problem in order to offer a viable solution. From the experience I have I think the council will need to examine our ordinances and requirements for their effectiveness in attracting revitalization investment in our older areas.
6. Would you support the revitalization of 28th street, if so, how?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes, I would love to see 28th Street revitalized. I would particularly like to see the entire parcels from Beach to Haltom be developed into an artisan restaurant, brewery, and boutique community. I think we should look at a planned development in this area. As such, the developer could conceptualize the plan, seek city approval, make the land acquisitions and then build or build to suit what the city approves. Also, with a concept like this, parking could be created for the traffic such an area would provide. Think 7th Street. Think Magnolia, Think Rosedale. Think Riverside. Other cities are already doing this. Why can’t we?
Jeff Barlett: YES. Depends on the plan. If the city is looking to create more regulations on business owners, then no. If the city is looking to make improvements such as fitting roads and within the budget, then yes.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. Same answer as number 5.
7. Full landscaping and irrigation systems can be a costly burden for some business owners given water shortages and long drought periods in the summer. Would you support irrigation free and drought tolerant landscaping ordinances?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes, I would fully support this.
Jeff Barlett: No. Unless there is a public safety regulates concern with this.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. There are drought tolerant Texas native plants and shrubs that should be allowed for use as screening and landscaping. Any ordinance that eases the cost of and simplifies the screening/landscaping requirements should also include stiffer penalties for failure to maintain minimal aesthetics.
8. Parking requirements for “retail” businesses remain the same, although the definition of “retail” has evolved over time. Would you support administrative decisions regarding exceptions for uses and parking requirements in lieu of lengthy hearings for businesses?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes, as stated before. We have hired competent people and can let them exercise their discretion.
Jeff Barlett: Yes. I also feel that the city council should hold meeting to discuss why we have these requirements in the first place and discuss ways we can deregulate to make is easier on people
Charlie Roberts: No. I would want the ordinances to be written in such a way that they accommodate this situation. I think written allowances take away the inevitable human factor of personal preferences. Our residents were denied a snow cone vendor at the corner of Haltom Rd and Western Center two years ago for this very reason. A salon/barber was denied occupancy on Beach St for being short one full size parking space (they did still locate in Haltom, thank you Supreme Hair Style).
9. For additional storage and expansion of inventory, shipping containers are an affordable alternative to constructing a new building. Would you support allowing the use of new/lightly used, painted, shipping containers for these purposes in commercial and industrial zoned areas, with appropriate controls?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes. I think all options should be considered, discussed, with input from our communities and citizens. With a collaborative effort and the right oversight, such an idea could work well.
Jeff Barlett: Yes.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. The “control” mentioned should include documented aesthetics and placement allowances on the property.
10. Many businesses endure a lengthy process for change of use when getting a certificate of occupancy. How would you support improving or streamlining the change of use process for new businesses?
Cindy Sturgeon: I think we need to discover why it’s lengthy and adjust accordingly. We must be cognizant that those working to get an SBA loan must have a lease or a promise to rent to get approval and funding. Our prolonging could cause them to lose their opportunity.
Jeff Barlett: I feel that the city council needs to look for ways to cut back on the unnecessary regulations on business to help make it easier for people to do business
Charlie Roberts: Currently too many approvals require at least one meeting of a board and two meetings of the city council. I would request to change our process to require only one meeting of city council and this to be the next meeting after a board recommendation. I think this would require a charter review and vote on a ballot to accomplish.
11. Would you consider more regulations requiring a business license for automotive businesses, with an annual fee and bi-annual inspection to make sure they are in compliance?
Cindy Sturgeon: I think we need to look at all options. I would not oppose this; however, I do think this could have unintended consequences.
Jeff Barlett: No.
Charlie Roberts: No. I would not support any new rules or requirements until I knew how enforcement of the existing rules affects the businesses and the community.
12. Have you applied for a commercial permit, certificate of occupancy, or plat in the last 10 years?
Cindy Sturgeon: No. I have applied and been approved for several of these; however, it’s been 12 years.
Jeff Barlett: No.
Charlie Roberts: No.
13. Have you ever owned a business with at least 5 employees? (Does not include running a business) If so, please give us some details.
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes, I owned a restaurant with more than five employees. I have processed payroll. Withheld taxes. Matched FICA taxes. Paid federal and state unemployment taxes, paid for health insurance, paid rent and utilities, managed scheduling, created and implemented business plans and budgets, created marketing plans and implemented them, just to name a few of the many tasks an entrepreneur/sole proprietor faces.
Jeff Barlett: No.
Charlie Roberts: No.
14. Are you open to reviewing the table of uses, to allow more uses in the zoning categories, so potential businesses don’t have to have extensive hearings for those allowed uses?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes. We need to win the competition to attract new businesses to our city, so I think it would be wise to look at all options.
Jeff Barlett: Yes.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. I want to hear from business owners who do open here, from those who applied but were denied, and from those who found too many restrictions. Again, I say we need to identify what the problem is before we can offer a reasonable solution.
15. Many cities, including Fayetteville AR. and the State of California have abolished parking minimums, in their push to make older buildings usable again, and revitalize their aging areas. Please Google the topic to learn more about the success stories. Would you consider learning more about this strategy?
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes.
Jeff Barlett: Yes. I would consider learning more about this. At the same time, I do want to know public safety impact on a decision like this as well as the possibility of potential traffic jams as a result. I also want to see deregulations for business owners.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. Many of us have traveled to small towns in North Texas that have faced the need to revitalize. We see old Town Squares where parking is on the streets, on dirt parking lots behind buildings, in alley ways, and blocks over as patrons flock to new businesses in old buildings. I know it can be done. We must be willing to do it.
16. Would you consider a major overhaul of the existing zoning code, with ideas from tenants, property owners, citizens and city staff, perhaps moving to form-based code instead of use-based code, as other cities have done to revitalize their small business owners? (Discussed on page 193 in Strong Towns)
Cindy Sturgeon: Yes. Research, studies, collaboration, expert input from real estate and community planners would be a must for such an undertaking. To progress, we should at least consider emergent strategies in this area, or we will continue to fall behind and be passed over.
Jeff Barlett: Yes. I personally want to see the city council take the time to go through the city code to look for as many ways legally possible to help deregulate small business owners as well as decriminalize petty crimes that are victimless.
As I told the voters I am self-funding my campaign for this 2023 election cycle so I will not be accepting any PAC donations for this 2023 election cycle. I will however answer your questions to help educate voters where I stand on the local issues.
Charlie Roberts: Yes. This would be part of examining our existing ordinances for their effectiveness in attracting new businesses to Haltom and retaining the ones already here.
HUBA Director of Communications Joe Palmer commented on the survey sent to candidates: “The lack of response from all of the incumbents is the reason the city continues to decline. Current city leadership isn’t interested in any ideas from the business community concerning how to bring more businesses back to the declining corridors in South and Central Haltom City.” He added, “City leaders have been vocal about how business owners should not have a place at the table when discussing the rules that govern the business community.”
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 nurtures small business growth, including automotive businesses in the industrial districts, and bring more restaurants including breweries and eventually 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. HUBA believes that the southern and central parts of the city need a revitalization plan, to prevent further degradation in those areas, and wants that to happen before the inner-city experiences increased crime and more blight. As retail and office uses are in decline, it’s more critical than ever to attract new businesses. They believe that such a plan requires a strong relationship and support of the business community. 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 Palmer 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 diverse, majority working-class city located between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. Haltom City is minutes from both the DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Due to an outdated and restrictive use matrix that discourages new business and deters growth, several areas of Haltom City have seen a decline in small businesses which provided goods and services and were a significant source of jobs, including the once-thriving automotive industry. However, Haltom City can reverse this trend and should prioritize development of inner-city land and vacant buildings, particularly in the major corridors close to the city’s center. The city is financially healthy with a capable manager and staff who would like to see diverse business development occur and need the support of the City Council to make it happen.
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