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      Business owner says doing business in Harlingen is a challenge

      Harlingen resident Jose Ramon Palacios has been a successful import and entertainment business man since 1981.

      He understands doing business these days is expensive, but is hoping to transform 2.3 acres of land along West Expressway 83, near White Ranch Road, into a business area.

      But he claims the City of Harlingen is not making things easy.

      "There's a lot of rules that the (Planning and Zoning) boards have imposed - one of them is fire hydrants, Palacios said. That's a high-ticket item, the best bid I've gotten is $6,600."

      Palacios said city ordinance requires one fire hydrant per 300 feet radius of the buildings that will be developed here - meaning the city is asking him to put two hydrants in place.

      Palacios agrees to pay for one of them, but said the second one is unnecessary.

      "The City of Harlingen code, I've asked them to revise because I think it's unfair to developers and contractors and it's slowing down business, Palacios said. We already know that construction has slowed down tremendously."

      City Manager Carlos Yerena told Action 4 News that Palacios has applied for a variance for that second fire hydrant and now it will be up to city commissioners to approve or deny his request.

      Yerena added fire hydrants are a safety issue and that all developers must abide by the city ordinance.

      Palacios said one fire hydrant will keep his development safe.

      "I TMd like for the city to go back in their records and find out when they had an emergency fire and they were short of fire hydrants, Palacios said. I want to know one incident (when something TMs happened) then they have a right to request that expense from us small business owners."

      Palacios argues the city is only looking out for big businesses and helping them set up shop, when they should be looking out for the small business owners that keep the local economy afloat.

      "They're going to make money from the citizens - they don TMt need any help, I need help," Palacios said.