Monday, May 20, 2024

City issues tickets to Granbury carnival for failure to obtain permit

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Many Hood County residents were ecstatic to learn that a carnival was in town from April 11-14 at the Reunion Grounds — but it wasn’t all fun and games for this fair.

During a regular meeting of the Granbury City Council April 16, City Manager Chris Coffman revealed that the carnival, Pride of Texas Shows, had failed to obtain a specific use permit before setting up earlier that weekend — leaving the city with no choice but to issue tickets to the company.

“It's not an objective job,” Coffman said. “We have rules that we have to enforce. Our city code specifically tells me as the city manager to ensure that all ordinances are followed, so when somebody violates the law, they remove the due process that the neighbors had from council to be able to award a permit for that temporary use. They fully circumvented that, and that's very unfortunate.”

According to legalmatch.com, a special use zoning permit allows a piece of property or land to be used in a manner that deviates from the normally accepted use in the area.

A specific use permit is required for certain types of uses, according to the Granbury website. Article 4 of the Zoning Ordinance defines which uses require a specific use permit. A specific use permit application and a site plan must be submitted and approved by Granbury City Council before the use is permitted.

The Pride of Texas Shows is a family-owned and operated amusement company based out of Elm Mott that provides rides, games, and food concessions to fairs, festivals and events throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

"It's unfortunate that you ask somebody not to continue to violate the law, and they continue to do it anyway, so it's very disheartening to have to write three tickets instead of one,” Coffman said. “I guess it was a business decision. They think it's cheaper to pay the ticket than to lose money by not being in business.”

Coffman explained that there were a total of 10 different work teams involved in the situation, including the building permits and inspections department, the code enforcement department, inspections team, community development team, tourism team, the Granbury Police Department, the Granbury Municipal Court, the legal department, Granbury City Council, and Coffman himself as the city manager.

“All were involved (because of) those people coming into town to set up a carnival without going through the right process,” he said. “Very disheartening to see somebody do that.”

Coffman said now that the city has enforced its code, it’s up to the court system to do its job.

“It caused a lot of internal stress trying to figure out how to be gentle and enforce the law,” Coffman said. “It's very stressful to think that you're going to have to stop somebody from doing something that they wanted to do, probably as a fundraiser for the organization.”

According to a Facebook post which has since been deleted, Pride of Texas Shows advertised itself as the “largest carnival ever in Granbury,” and had tagged Hood County Livestock Raisers and Reunion Grounds by HCLRA in the post.

"On their behalf, I'm sure the owners of that property that were cited don't remember the last time they went through the process a couple of years ago and neighbors were complaining about the carnival, so it’s probably different leadership,” Coffman explained. “I'm not sure what happened to those folks, but I think in the future that they will probably comply with this.”

The Hood County News reached out to Pride of Texas Shows for comment but did not receive a response by press time.