make haltom city great againMake Haltom City Great Again

Haltom City has been in decline for decades.

I haven't spoken to anyone who doesn’t believe that. It’s time for new leadership and a plan.

From barber shops to day care centers, and yes, even automotive businesses. It's simply too hard to start or expand a business here. Covid accelerated businesses closing, and especially retail, leaving a trail of new and old boarded up buildings.

How are we going to implement the changes needed? By bringing in new leadership, by educating people about issues and by sharing information and proven solutions, mostly with private investment. Other cities have done it, and so can we! Mansfield recently overhauled its codes for downtown, going to a form-based code instead of a use-based code, and got 4 new projects almost immediately.

First, if you live in Haltom City or own a business here, ask for a free copy of my 10th nonfiction business book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities. Send me a message on Facebook to Ron D Sturgeon, Or you can stop by my business and pick one up, ask for my asst. Lindsay, at 5940 Eden Dr. It's just south of 121 at Carson. The book is also available on Amazon, or at my business consulting site MrMIssionPossible.com. I started my first business in Haltom City 50 years ago, and raised my family in Skyline Mobile Home Park in northern Haltom City.

Second, read Strong Towns, and visit their website to learn more about revitalizing your city. You will find success stories in both books. Our issues aren't unique; there are lots of other cities with declining downtowns.

There will be naysayers who just want the status quo, but I believe we can revitalize Haltom City with a plan and the fortitude to execute that plan.

Based on my research for the book and success stories from other cities, the framework of a plan is posted at my Facebook page: Make Haltom City Great Again. That plan won't cost the city or taxpayers anything, and it can be put in place within months, lowering residents’ taxes. Please join the movement to make Haltom City great again!

If you own a business in Haltom City, join Haltom United Business Alliance. Refer to their Facebook page for updates on their efforts to revitalize Haltom City. They issue press releases and post other information regularly on their efforts to change the city.

If you live in Haltom City, we need you to help with the grassroots network that it's going to take to change the city from one of the slowest growing cities in Tarrant County to a top performer.

Please share these sites with your friends in Haltom City, so we can get as many folks as possible who care about Haltom City to help with us on this effort.

Visit the Facebook Page, Make Haltom City Great Again for updates and my proposed concept plan to bring the small businesses back to the city. Feel free to use portions of all my plan for your city, a lot of research went into it, looking at other city’s success stories.

Concept Plan

I will start the ball rolling. You can discard all of it or portions, and please add to it, but think about it and talk to others. One thing is a certainty: without a plan nothing is going to change.

Here are a few ways that Haltom City’s leaders should rethink the way it is doing business and try to adopt the more business friendly approaches used in many nearby cities. (Consider using these for your city as a starting point):

Many or most of these ideas can be limited to just the areas identified for redevelopment or revitalization.

  • The single biggest thing that should be done is to update the use matrix so that more new businesses can come in and open and get a certificate of occupancy without extensive public hearings. Most simply go to adjoining cities, where opening without hearings is routine.
  • Consider moving to a form-based zoning code instead of a use-based code, at least in certain areas, such as many older cities have. This change has produced dramatic results for cities, such as, Mansfield, TX.
  • Parking requirements should be eliminated or dramatically reduced. They create large areas of paving that stay vacant most of the time, add no value or income for the city, and are a real impediment to many businesses opening.
  • Extensive landscaping requirements with irrigation don’t make sense in a drought management environment.
  • Opportunities businesses have to expand their products and revenues are denied by the city without adequate consideration for accessory uses. (For instance, a chain saw dealer should be able to sell picnic tables or camping supplies, without getting a new CO.)
  • Storage containers are essentially outlawed in Haltom City, even in industrial parts of town, hampering the ability of small businesses that can’t build but want to store and grow inventories. They aren’t even allowed when screened.
  • Many of the rules that are hurting businesses are the pet concerns of specific councilpersons and are totally unjustified.
  • The current council and mayor limits or prohibits speaking at many public meetings.
  • Create zones in the central and southern areas and corridors with relaxed rules for new or expanding businesses.
  • Change of use rules could be relaxed in the declining areas. There is no reason a donut shop shouldn’t be allowed to move in where their used to be a retail store without extensive paperwork. If a use changes, lots of paperwork and full ordinance inspections are triggered, and in many cases the older buildings must be brought up to current codes. Change of use provisions should be relaxed or eliminated within zoning categories, i.e., in commercial zones all the uses are "interchangeable". Sprinklering requirements for older buildings assure that they will never be occupied again. Consider other safety ideas, like monitored fire alarm systems, smoke vents and curtains, or delaying sprinklering for a period of years or to just a portion of the building.
  • For years, the council has been determined to eliminate all automotive businesses. These businesses are Haltom City staples and an important part of Haltom City’s employment and tax base as well as part of the brand and legacy.  They don’t even allow automotive businesses in the industrial parts of the city, including auto repairs, inspections, even tune ups. BUT they do allow many other uses without additional permitting requirements, such as freight terminals, welding shops, and manufacturing. We believe automotive businesses should be an allowed use in the commercial and industrial parts of the city, with appropriate regulations. Sure, there are unsightly automotive businesses, but the entire industry cannot be judged by a few outliers. We have proposed licensing them with an annual fee that will offset inspection costs for code enforcement at least annually. As retail declines after covid, adding to the vacancies, cities should be more thoughtful about what kinds of businesses will backfill the vacancies. Hoping for more retail is a failed strategy.
  • Rules on car dealers passed decades ago which kept them from being able to improve their tiny platted lots should be revised, allowing them to continue in business and make needed renovations, and the NE 28th Street area should be considered for redevelopment of the tiny lots as combined. Many of the car dealers have closed, but for those that haven’t, platting and CUP requirements prevent them from improving their lots.
  • Recognize that there isn’t enough public money to restore the declining areas; the money must come from private investment. Our alliance has given the city many ideas on doing this, most of which would cost the city nothing.
  • Most of these ideas can be implemented quickly (within months), and at no cost to the city or taxpayers. Issues that arise are easy to fix or modify. Waiting to implement such ideas drags the process out for years.
  • HUBA wants to hear from you about any ordinances or enforcement that you believe has adversely affected your business.  No one is listening to the business owners, and the business owners are not being represented. We’ve already rounded up a number of business owners who are aligned in working to make it easier for businesses to move to or grow in Haltom City.