Keller BubbleLife -
Keller City Council Member Weighs in on Food Truck Decision

Keller City Council has rejected a zoning change that would make room for a food truck park in Old Town Keller.  Council Member Bill Dodge sent BubbleLife the following email regarding the Council’s decision:

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts regarding Council's Food Truck decision and wanted to provide a little more detail regarding my decision not to support it.

Unfortunately, as with many public issues, the complete details do not get revealed. And let me make it very clear, as a Keller business owner and local Keller builder, I am probably the last one to oppose new development in Keller, as this was my primary platform when running for office.

This decision came down to several key issues.

1. The applicant was not willing to invest appropriate capital in his project and was asking the City to pay for improvements such as paving extensive parking and other variances.  We do need additional parking in that area, but the applicant was also expecting to use several parking places belonging to the new Buffalo Cantina Restaurant, which is being built by the applicant's father.  I was not comfortable with that relationship as the new Buffalo Cantina Restaurant will need as many parking spaces as they can find, once they open their doors.

2. The applicant admitted he has no prior experience in the Food Truck business and would be responsible to locate and secure contracts with each Food Truck owner/operator.  In addition, the City would gain no Sales Tax and no improved land property tax because the trucks would be taxed where they permanently reside.

3. The applicant stated although he did not feel this land was the best use for the Food Trucks, he wanted to try this concept in a phased approach to "see if it would work."

4. I am not opposed to Food Trucks and do believe it would offer a nice variety for our residents, which caused me to ask the applicant if he had considered any other areas in Keller and his answer was no.  As a business owner, I was surprised he had not at least considered other locations to relocate, as a fall back option.

5. In summary, if approved, the City would be spending a huge amount of tax payers money for parking etc., not gaining any additional revenue, stressing the already short parking supply and adding additional stress to the other area restaurants who invested in Old Town at over $500,000 - $1,000,000 per building.  These owners have seen their property values increase and their sales tax revenue has jumped providing Keller with much needed tax revenue.

As a newly elected Council Member, I am vigil and reluctant to spend our tax dollars on projects unless it can be demonstrated that it will provide an equal or greater return to the city.  I feel it would be financially inappropriate for the City to spend money on a project where we may be gambling the future success of our existing businesses.

As any banker would tell you, unless an entrepreneur has "Skin in the Game" and is willing to risk their own capital, any lender or investor will be reluctant to spend their money.

I hope the applicant looks for a more suitable location in Keller, does his homework and returns with a complete business plan and I will be more than happy to see if we can make it work.


Bill Dodge

Keller City Council Member

Friday, July 20, 2012