There is an interesting contrast to the way — within Galveston County — local officials view their jobs and economic development.
In Texas City during the past few years, the attitude has been a market-driven one — if you can get the bankers and backers, then the city will do what it can to help you.
Blue-collar development is what is seen —malls, shopping centers and the like, both new and refurbished — as well as new housing, sprouting up.
And it is market-driven. The business’ success or failure is in its ability to attract customers.
In the city of Galveston, it seems there is a different approach.
To do business in Galveston, often-times it appears the developer is applying for a country-club membership.
The purpose of any governmental body is to enforce the rules. So how often do we hear of rezoning based upon the mood of the people speaking to the council, instead of the rules?
In December, Galveston’s planning commission voted to recommend a zoning change for two empty lots on the West End. Before a 2015 overhaul of the city’s zoning rules and maps, the property was zoned as a planned development, a broad designation allowing many uses, including commercial.
The city no longer has the planned development zoning category.
The commission’s recommendation, though, was met by opposition and the zoning change was denied by the city council.
What puzzles us were the arguments against allowing the rezoning to take place.
The proposed business was not the right kind of business. City administrators understood the developer planned to build a Dollar General store there, Assistant Planning Director Catherine Gorman said.
Those who were opposed offered the argument that those who live on the West End only want businesses that cater to their lifestyles.
Residents were concerned about a national chain retailer, which is contradictory to the lifestyle and nature of the West End, said Jerry Mohn, president of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association. The residents he represents would prefer small, mom-and-pop businesses, he said.
They also argued a national chain could hurt small businesses already in the area around Sandhill Shores and Sunset Cove neighborhoods.
In making the recommendation to the city council, the planning commission shouldn’t make exceptions to zoning rules because of the type of business that might be built on the property, Chairwoman Carol Hollaway said.
We agree with Hollaway’s point.
The right kind of business — in the vast majority of cases — should be determined by the marketplace, not the city council.
• Dave Mathews