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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Freight restrictions frustrate business owners on Northgate

In hopes of improving safety along Northgate, the City of College Station has made various construction changes and significantly restricted loading zones in the area. The changes have made life more difficult for businesses on Northgate, leaving both the city and businesses to negotiate over where to draw the line between the safety of Northgate-goers and the sustainability of businesses.
Perhaps the most tangible symptom of the struggle between businesses and the freight restrictions is the vacant building on College Main and University Drive that formerly housed Loupots Bookstores. For eight months, this building located on prime real estate in Northgate has been on the market.
Robert Forrest, owner of Sarges military surplus two doors down, said the problem is that freight trucks are forced to load more than a block away. He said the city has thus far not made the area conducent for the major companies that some local business were hoping would take over the corner building.
“Wallgreens or a store of that nature would have six or eight vendors a day coming to stock their shelves,” Forrest said. “Right now the city has left no alternative way for any of those vendors to bring their product. So, does the city want it to be a business district or do they want it to be something else? Because, if it is a business district, we have to have freight delivery.”
To further communication with businesses, Lance Simms assistant director of planning and development services for the City of College Station said the city has put information such as a map of loading zones and a page of helpful loading advice on their Northgate parking website page.
Having found out that a truck driver received a citation for parking in the usual unloading spot, Michele Kim, manager at Kyoto Sushi on College Main, said she feels the new restrictions hurt relations with distributors and said she never learned of the city’s loading zones.
“I have truck drivers asking where to park, and I don’t know,” Kim said. “The city said they’d give us loading zones, but they never did.”
Across the street from Kyoto Sushi, Barry Ivins owner of The Corner Bar and Grill said he is optimistic that things will work out.
“Right now the vendors are really upset, but were still getting out merchandise,” Ivins said. “Everyone is an adult here. Everyone is going to figure a way to make it work.”
While Ivin said the current system of unloading will be less practical when the weather heats up, he said the city is currently working with him by lowering the bollards on College Main for a few hours once a week to accommodate for The Corners deliveries that require close proximity.
Simms said College Station began an educational campaign to explain the changes on Northgate Oct. 8. He said the campaign consisted of three weeks of placing educational fliers with loading tips and restriction information under the windshield wipers of trucks in violation with the citys guidelines. After this, law enforcement agencies began issuing warnings without fines to violators. Simms said officials tried to make face-to-face contact whenever possible.
“Everyone knows where we are headed,” Simms said. “Our goal is full compliance with all the city regulations and ordinances. There’s some resistance to change, I understand that, but we are trying to do it in a reasonable and responsible manner, kind of ease into where we need to be.”
Simms said changes were the result of previous monitoring of safety violations, specifically among distributors unloading in a fire zone behind University.
“Frankly, we witnessed some abuses of the use of that fire lane,” Simms said. “We continue to allow that fire lane to be used as a delivery area because we know it is really convenient to those bars right there, but what is not acceptable is to park a delivery truck in the fire lane, blocking the fire lane if you will, and just leave your vehicle.”
Simms said the largely wood-based buildings, crowds of people, and delivery truck blocking access open the area up for a potentially disastrous situation.
“Painting a worst case scenario, fire trucks roll up and they cant access the fire lane because there are delivery trucks parked there and we don’t know where the drivers are,” Simms said. “Frankly I think it is pretty generous on the city’s part to allow the fire lane be used as a delivery area. The requirement though is that you have to have someone there with the vehicle, so at a moments notice the vehicle could be moved and the fire department can gain access.”
John Raney, Texas state representative and founder of Texas Aggieland Bookstore, said the city has not incorporated small-business input enough. Raney said many of his suggestions, such as keeping parking lots and creating more parking lots, have gone unheeded.
“The city has had meetings all along, they just did not listen to anyone here, Raney said. The city did not consider retailing at all. They based changes as if it was a safety issue and nothing else. No one wants anyone hurt, but I don’t know if they improved anything.”

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