My name is Renee McElheney, and I have resided at 312 East Avenue E in Midlothian for the last 34 years.

I wanted to stand before you this evening and state that I appreciate Mr. Coffman and his efforts to have the city council meetings recorded and available to the public. 

I also want to go on record with my appreciation to Mr. Wickliffe and his efforts to question the ramifications of the decisions being made by this council.  

I’ve heard from too many people out in the community and even here, in chambers, during last month’s meeting that, “I’ve jumped through the hoops, I’ve navigated every requirement, and then when it comes time for the final stamp, I’m told that there are now new additional hurdles that I have to overcome to get approval.”

What I have seen is that many of the hurdles that are brought up during these discussions are the personal aesthetic issues of individual council members, and those personal wishes and desires should not have a place in this forum.

I’ve heard many people comment that Midlothian wants to be a “mini Frisco,” with all of their requirements and “standards,” but navigating this process in Midlothian becomes so cost prohibitive and absolutely frustrating that we lose business opportunities that would actually elevate our area.

Instead, we get fast food joints – but boy, they look great.

We ourselves have many, many examples of dealing with the city standards, roadblocks and arbitrary changes.

But tonight, I will be addressing on the record a particular item that has bothered me greatly since I sat in a meeting this past year and heard the discussions that transpired. They were in regard to the offices and an ice cream shop that wanted to open in a house located at 101 South 3rd Street.

What I found most disturbing during that particular meeting was some of the council member’s discussion of the days that this business should be allowed to operate and the restrictions that the council felt should be in place to grant their almighty approval for this business to move forward and through the gauntlet.

The discussion by the council on this particular evening also included the specific hours of operation that the council felt would be appropriate for this business to have.  

At one point, the city attorney interjected and stated that these types of discussions were not in the realm of what the council members should be discussing.  

As a business owner, I know first-hand that it is the individual’s responsibility to open a business and work hard to make it successful. It is NOT the city council's job to dictate how a business should be run. It is NOT the city council's job to dictate the hours of operation for a business. It is NOT the city council’s job to make sure that a company will have a return on investment. It is baffling that the council ventures into these types of discussion in the first place.

Our city council is lovingly known in my family as “the dream killers,” and it seems as though they’ve struck again – the house at 101 South 3rd Street that was to house said offices and ice cream shop is now up for sale, half demolished.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I don’t know the details of why this project has fallen through, but drawing from personal experience, I can guess with some confidence that it had something to do with the expense and the endless, tiresome hoops the city insists on making people shimmy through.

So I stand here tonight to urge each of our citizens to become advocates for themselves and for our community.  

I urge our citizens to constantly and consistently question the decisions — and most assuredly, question the discussions that they hear taking place during these meetings of our city council.

I urge our citizens to not simply lie down and accept without questions the decisions made in these chambers.  

I urge our community to be vocal and to NOT to be apathetic about our local government.

Thank you for your time.

Renee McElheney, Midlothian