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‘Glamper’ mobile shop poses problems for La Vernia
By Eric Moreno
The owners of The Steel Magnolias Boutique, a mobile clothing and apparel store that operates out of a converted Airstream travel trailer -- or “Glamper,” a glamour camper, as they call it, petitioned the La Vernia City Council April 10 during its regular meeting. Owners Crystal Kiolbassa and Merrie Monaco, her mother, sought permission to operate their mobile retail business at various locations within the city, similarly to a food truck.
Council discussion revealed that the city currently has no ordinance to cover this relatively new and unique type of business. City governments in San Antonio, Austin, Richardson, and San Francisco were questioned about how they govern such vendors. None currently has ordinances that cover mobile vendors or peddlers. San Francisco and Austin are discussing adding ordinances at some point in the future.
La Vernia Mayor Robert Gregory confirmed his city also has nothing on its books addressing such businesses, citing that it’s difficult to issue a certificate of occupancy for a business that “... we do not even have on the books.”
Representatives referenced free enterprise in defense of the mobile boutique as a “cutting edge” commercial venture.
Councilman Jennifer Moczygemba said she could find no city with an ordinance concerning such a business.
“The city of Austin flat out said it is illegal in our town until we get this ordinance in place.”
Current ordinances govern brick and mortar businesses and address accessibility as dictated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as parking requirements; the council discussed how this would affect and apply to a mobile vendor-type business.
“In your [Steel Magnolias] presentation, you brought up ‘competitive’ and being competitive also means having to be fair, and fair to your brick and mortar [businesses],” Moczygemba said. “These people have invested in a building and a parking lot, and utilities and things like that.”
The council members ultimately tabled the matter. This will allow it to be discussed with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, as well.
Council members approved rezoning several general residential lots for general commercial purposes, including two on Bluebonnet Road (F.M. 775). The council also approved a specific use permit for a drive-through lane for the end-cap tenant in the La Vernia Crossing retail development near the intersection of U.S. 87 and F.M. 1346.
The agenda also included the city’s municipal well projects, with the council tabling a decision regarding termination of a groundwater contract between the city and Thomas and Maribel Callaway.
La Vernia Municipal Development District (MDD) member and former council member D. Bradford Beck resigned from the MDD. The council accepted his resignation and appointed former Councilman Eric Friedrichs as his replacement, reappointing Councilman Randy Leonard to the board, as well.
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