Wednesday , 23 May 2018

Controversy Brewing Over Proposed Ordinance for Vehicles for Hire

By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher

The McKinney Police Department has requested that City Council consider amending the Code of Ordinances (Chapter 102, “Taxicabs and Other Vehicles for Hire”).  The proposed addition to the existing ordinance that covers taxicabs and other vehicles will be presented to Council for discussion at the Tuesday, April 17 work session by McKinney Chief of Police, Doug Kowalski. The revision specifically addresses horse and carriage operators.

There will not be an opportunity at the work session for Council to hear public comments.  Following discussion, Council may recommend to send the proposal as presented, or with changes, to have it placed as a regular agenda item at a future Council meeting. The public may make comments regarding the proposal during the public comments segment of any regular Council meeting. 

According to Deputy Chief of Police, Kim Malolepszy, the city does not have an ordinance that covers “vehicles for hire”.  Malolepszy told that this ordinance is for the safety and welfare of the citizens of McKinney. There have been instances of companies coming into McKinney and setting up vehicles for hire (horse and carriage) and prior to this the city has not had any kind of regulations. Malolepszy said the objective with the ordinance is to prepare to avoid any kind of incident before it happens, not after. 

Currently, there is one horse and carriage operator, Shannon Cole, who operates Happy Trails Farrier Service in and around downtown McKinney. Cole has been providing visitors and citizens with carriage rides around town for six years without incident. The proposed ordinance would also affect the stagecoach that provides rides for kids during the Farmers’ Market at Chestnut Square.

Although Cole declined to make specific comments about the proposed ordinance because she is in conversation with her attorney about the matter, she did say that she feels that there is a need for some regulation. Cole feels that some of the regulations proposed by the McKinney Police Department are extreme and that it will affect her ability to do business in downtown McKinney. 

Malolepszy said the proposed ordinance is one that is taken from the City of Arlington. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” she said.  “We looked at the ordinances that other cities have in place.”

Some McKinney residents have expressed concern that the proposed ordinance grants the police chief unchecked authority and is an infringement on the individual rights of a business owner. Others have commented that because this type of business uses city streets, it should 
be subject to certain regulations beyond what the average requirement for business owners.

The cities of Garland, Mesquite, Dallas and Arlington all have ordinances that addresses vehicles for hire. 

Cole did say that she hopes that with some changes to the proposed ordinance, a compromise may be reached that will allow her to stay in business.

City Council work session begins at 4:15 p.m. at Council Chambers, 222 N. Tennessee St. All sessions are open to the public.

Photos courtesy of McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau

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