Addressing outdated land use rules & adopting form-based codes can spur investment in the older parts of towns.
HALTOM CITY, TX, November 07, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Strong Towns is an American non-profit organization dedicated to helping people make their communities safe, financially resilient and livable. Each year, nominations are taken for their “Strongest Town Contest.” The community that best demonstrates the Strong Towns approach (as determined by a majority vote of the group’s followers) is considered the winner.
An article entitled Lessons From This Year’s Strongest Town: Brattleboro, Vermont highlights the attitudes and actions that have brought success to this year’s champion. Brattleboro is a town of 12,000 that has struggled with the same issues affecting many aging small towns across the United States. Being open to change and willing to find common ground and build on it are at the forefront. Additionally, a non-partisan approach is needed, says town planner Steve Hayes, who’s found that many ideas are supported by citizens regardless of political affiliation. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but the values and heart at the core of Strong Towns principles are simply good ideas for a small town.”
One of the main changes made in Brattleboro was code reform to eliminate obstacles inherent in the town’s older land use regulations. According to the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA), this same strategy has been advocated in Haltom City for the declining south and central areas of the city for a number of years.
Said HUBA Communication Director Joe Palmer, “Current codes are detrimental to revitalization of Haltom City’s older neighborhoods. As things currently stand, investors are faced with one obstacle after another if interested in buying a vacant building for a new use.” For example, if a vacant building that was once used as a warehouse is now being considered for a dance studio or a plumbing supply store, the “change of use” triggers four separate code inspections and a requirement to bring the property up to current buildings codes. The time-consuming and costly nature of the process often cause investors to look elsewhere. “Simplifying the land use matrix and/or changing to form-based codes would go a long way in helping turn things around in these areas.”
HUBA founder Ron Sturgeon agrees. He recently launched the Make Haltom City Thrive Again campaign and hopes that more citizens and business owners will educate themselves about the issues and speak out. He would also like to see the members of the city council heed the call, and he points to the statement made by Sarah Lang, Brattleboro Planning Commission Member, in the Strong Towns article. “People need to feel heard… Other communities should consider how they’re tuning into the needs of their residents and explore ways of listening that don’t hinge on action or ultimatums. People need to feel like they’re a part of something.”
Added Palmer, “There are cities in Texas that are already making changes, like nearby Mansfield, Texas. Haltom City would be wise to follow their lead and approve form-based codes in certain areas of the city. The time for action is now.”
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.
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 HUBAgrp@gmail.com. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Make Haltom City Thrive Again
Make Haltom City Thrive Again is a movement to return prosperity to the older parts of South and Central Haltom City by luring the small businesses that have left over the past decades back to Haltom City. A vibrant business community not only allows for greater employment and choice of goods and services, but also can ease the tax burden on residents. The movement is led by local entrepreneur and business owner Ron Sturgeon. For more on Sturgeon’s ideas and background, check out his book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities and watch the videos on his Facebook page. Ron is also the founder of the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) which represents existing business interests in Haltom City and promotes growth of diverse businesses. HUBA is not a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. If/when Ron endorses candidates, he will do so on his own via the Make Haltom City Thrive Again organization.
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