Waxahachie City Council members denied a request for a proposed food truck park on Monday night, citing safety concerns for pedestrians crossing a major roadway.
The East Waxahachie Food Park was set to be located in the 1500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Last week, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend denial of the project to the city council.
Shon Brooks, director of planning, told the council the size of the land presents issues for the development and the residents' ability to access it.
“We have met several times with the applicant. It is a very tight site. The applicant has worked with staff and the plan has been revised twice,” Brooks said. “He does have an agreement for overflow parking with the church across the street. It is a tough site with an interesting concept.”
The food truck park planned spaces for four food trucks with seven parking spaces on the property. An agreement was reached with the church across the street to use its parking lot for overflow parking.
Chuck Beatty, a council member, shared the same concerns expressed by the planning and zoning commission.
“The main concern is health and safety,” Beatty said. “There are only seven parking spaces on the site, and you (might) have to cross a major thoroughfare to get to this location.”
Councilwoman Melissa Olson stated the ability to get to the site is limited and not pedestrian friendly.
“I really like the idea and would like to see something more permanent on that location,” Olson said. “The walkability with drains makes it difficult. I don’t agree with that site.”
Verlin Taylor, the developer, stated the project would be a benefit to the community. Through his research of other food parks, Taylor found that most food truck parks have a high volume of pedestrian traffic from the immediate area. He noted a sidewalk would be put in place at the site to accommodate the additional foot traffic.
“I know it has some challenges. I have been in partnership with the city and have listened to comments from the city,” Taylor said. “This area is very similar to the Fort Worth food park that is in an industrial area. The park here is about twice the size of it.”
Taylor stated he had taken the city’s comments and adapted those into his plan, adding items such as fencing, landscaping, and a dumpster enclosure.
He added some people will drive or bike to the site, but most of the customers will be from the adjoining neighborhoods and would walk.
Mayor Pro Tem David Hill suggested tabling the item so members of the council could view other area food parks referenced by Taylor.
No motion to table the item was made by the council.
Several residents expressed their concern about the project’s impact on the area.
Vinson Jackson, a resident, stated he likes the idea but not its location.
“This is a good concept, but it is not the right area. There is going to be a lot of traffic with the funeral home and the churches in the area,” Jackson said. “For the past several years I have had problems with wild animals. A food truck park is going to make it worse".
Another resident, Jesse Gibson, stated he is in favor of the project’s concept and new development on the east side of the city but feels it does not fit the location.
“We want something that is going to enhance the community,” Gibson said. “We think that what is being proposed on this location is not going work.”
A third resident, George Pointer, told the council the idea of having residents walk to the site is not plausible.
“He is saying most of the people in that area can walk. The majority of the people that live on Graham Street are elderly. If they are going to come to the food truck they are going to have to drive,” Pointer said. “The majority of the people that are in close proximity are elderly are going to have to drive. Even though this is a good idea, I don’t think that it is a good location for it.”
Following the regular session, the council convened into executive session. Upon returning to open session, the council approved to enter into a purchase agreement of property from Univar, formally Magnablend, in the 1900 block of John Arden Drive. The purchase passed 4-1 with Olson voting against. It is subject to a real estate agreement from Univar and acceptable environmental clearance.
The property was once home to the Magnablend chemical blending facility that caught fire and destroyed the plant in 2011.
City Manager Michael Scott stated details on the purchase are still being finalized at this time.