KEMAH — For the past three weeks, a regular feature near Kemah’s touristy boardwalk — horse-drawn carriages — has been missing.
The regular clop, clop, clop of hoof beats on pavement have been silenced as the owner of Kemah’s only carriage company attempts to renew her city-issued permit.
City officials said the permit will need to wait until the City Council votes on possible carriage routes at a meeting today.
Chanci Mowry, the 27-year-old owner of Kemah Carriages, said she has had her carriages off the streets since Jan. 10 and it has cost her about $20,000 in expenses and lost revenue.
Mowry she has done everything the city has asked of her, including a final inspection Friday.
She said she could not understand why the city still had not issued the permit.
Mowry said she was frustrated and in tears while she, her drivers and her horses continue to be out of work.
Meanwhile, city officials said they have done all they can to accommodate Mowry, and what was lacking was the City Council’s approval of carriage routes.
But Mowry said that the city should issue her a permit and allow her to get back to work while the council deliberates.
“They need to allow us to work while they designate a route,” Mowry said.
The city adopted an ordinance requiring inspections of the carriages and horse shelters or barns, among other things, in 2012 but it had never been fully enforced, Mowry and the mayor said.
Mowry started her carriage business in Kemah in 2011 and in the past, all she had to do to receive her permit was provide health records on her five horses and pay the city fee — about $1,100. She typically renewed the permit in February or March, she said.
But Jan. 10, one of her carriage drivers was stopped by a Kemah police officer and told they were in violation of the city ordinance, Mowry said.
According to the city ordinance, the permit runs out on Dec. 31 of each year. Mowry said she had not been informed that city would be enforcing the ordinance any differently than it had in the past.
She was shut down just before a weekend, which is “prime time” for her business, Mowry said.
Mowry said she contacted City Hall to begin the process the following Monday.
She was originally told the inspection of her barn and carriages could happen the third week of January but the inspection kept getting pushed back, Mowry said.
She received an email from City Administrator Rick Beverlin on Jan 16 informing her the city would need to address several items, including application paperwork, scheduling carriage and shelter inspections and checks on her drivers, among other things.
The council also would be considering a potential route designation at a Feb. 5 meeting, Beverlin wrote in the email Mowry provided to The Daily News.
After providing the proper paperwork and making a few requested changes to her carriages, such as changing the types of headlights, Mowry said her final inspection was completed at about 11 a.m. Friday.
But when she tried pay her fee and get her permit before City Hall closed at noon, Mowry said she was told she again would have to wait.
“We adhere to everything on (the ordinance,) and they are still preventing me from working,” Mowry said.
‘We have to
have a route’
Kemah Mayor Bob Cummins said it would make no sense to issue Mowry a permit until the City Council approved a route for carriages in the city.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. today to take up the issue as part of its regular meeting.
Cummins said he did not understand why Mowry was so confused by the permitting process and he did not think there was any problem in the way it had been handled.
“(Mowry) just got inspected last Friday at 10:30 a.m. or something,” Cummins said. “We have to have a route, and the route has to be approved by (the) City Council.”
On Tuesday, Cummins said he did not know what route was being recommended for the council’s approval.
In an email Cummins did say council would specify parking location’s and lanes that carriages could use.
Beverlin added that the police department recommended short and long routes along Kipp Avenue.
While Mowry was not informed about the enforcement of the ordinance, Cummins said he and others at City Hall have “jumped through hoops” to help and accommodate her.
It was not the city’s fault that she did not have her permit, he said.
While he didn’t doubt that Mowry was losing business, Cummins said he did not see how it was the city’s fault that Mowry did not get her permit sooner.
“It’s her business, not mine, and if you don’t take care of your business, I don’t know how that’s somebody else’s fault,” he said. “Nobody is trying to prevent her from having her business.”
Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: Kemah City Council meeting
WHEN: 7 p.m. today
WHERE: Kemah City Hall, 1401 State Highway 146, in Kemah
DETAILS: The council will discuss horse-drawn carriage routes at its regular meeting