HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce and the Young Professionals of Reno County held a Hutchinson City Council forum Tuesday evening.
Topics ranged from taxes, zoning issues, qualities and experience needed when looking for a new city manager, and whether dollar stores should be required to offer fresh foods.
One of the big items discussed was over regulation and zoning issues for businesses in the community. Hutchinson City Councilwoman Jade Piros De Carvalho says she formed the trades board to help address those issues. Some running for council for the first time were not aware this even existed. Piros De Carvalho talked about forming this board.
“You may know that I ran a task force about a year ago to look at our regulatory environment and see what we’re doing that makes it difficult for businesses to get up and running and thrive,” Piros De Carvalho said. “I have several contractors, trades people and people at large, business owners who gave input. Once we were done and had this list of criteria we needed to go through to become more business friendly, in a sense, we decided that work really couldn’t end. So that board continues today.”
When it comes to requiring dollar stores to have a percentage of their product line be fresh foods, such as vegetables, no one, even current council members, seemed to be in favor, but some current council members stated they would be watching what the planning commission decides.
“We should have limited government and I don’t believe we should regulate that,” Sara Bagwell, a candidate running for the at-large district seat, said.
“‘No,’ is the answer there. They have no business telling them what they can and cannot sell,” Joshua Naiman, candidate for the northeast district, said. He worries that some of the produce would be thrown away because it’s not selling. Lovella Kelley, who is also running for that seat, fired back that it could be donated to the soup kitchen or New Beginnings.
“This is a very delicate issue, it has tough issues that have to be made that will impact a lot of people at different socioeconomic levels,” Dave Inskeep, the incumbent for the at-large district, said. “On the one hand, I’m not a huge proponent of government regulation on the free market, but on the flip side, I know what Dollar General has done to other communities where smaller grocery stores have closed up.”
That issue could come before the council in the near future.
A small crowd attended last night’s event at Hutchinson Community College. Residents will have a chance to vote for the council on Nov. 5.