Call 4 Action - Harlingen woman denied BBQ fundraiser permit '4 times'

Maria Zepeda has hit a brick wall.

"I don't know what to do anymore."

She wants to hold a BBQ plate fundraiser on October 8th in the City of Harlingen.

"I'm trying," she said. "No luck."

One of her relatives is stricken with stomach cancer.

Doctors have given her son-in-law's father, Sostenes Del Valle, little time left on this earth because the cancer has spread throughout his body.

Her family is afraid they won't have the money to cover funeral expenses.

She thought getting a city permit would be easy.

"Denied," Maria said.

She received 4 permit rejections in all.

"It just keeps going and going."

Each location for the fundraiser was denied for one reason or another, according to Maria.

The location at the Hop Shop on South 7th was rejected because the business wouldn't be open during the fundraiser.

O'Reilly's on South 77 Sunshine was rejected too because it hit the yearly limit on the number of food fundraisers a particular location can host.

City rules only allow a business to hold 4 per year.

Lupe Montalvo, manager at O'Reilly's, felt like he was caught in the middle.

"We're here for the community, we want to help these people in need who need help," he said.

Maria doesn't know what to do.

"It makes me mad and it makes me not do it anymore... Just give up," she said.

It's not the intent behind the regulations on permit approvals in the City of Harlingen, according to Ken Clark, Planning & Zoning Director.

Some cities don't allow BBQ plate fundraisers.

Harlingen charges $10.

The process can be confusing for those who are applying for the first time, Clark admits.

That's because there are three different city departments linked to the process including: the fire department, health department and planning & zoning.

"It's all to keep the public safe," Clark said.

Maria wants to follow the rules but feels they are too tough.

"I may have to do something else."

Clark told Action 4 News he would provide Maria a list of businesses that have helped with fundraisers in the past and have not hit the yearly limit.

He added how there are other types of fundraisers that could be held.

Car wash fundraisers don TMt have the same level of restrictions because no food is sold, according to Ken.

Maria said she will look at all the options in hopes of raising money for her family.