Why can’t a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Argentine have a pop machine in front of it, while some stores at The Legends Outlets can?
That question was pondered tonight at a Unified Government Administration and Human Services Standing Committee meeting at City Hall.
Commissioner Hal Walker pointed out that while the city has hammered the Argentine Walmart for having a pop machine in front of it, at the same time, it has done nothing about the Legends, where there are several stores with pop machines in front. The issue was brought up at a previous meeting by Commissioner Ann Murguia.
UG Planning Director Rob Richardson explained that some of the rules applying to the Legends were negotiated with the shopping center when it was built, and there are variances on signs and vending machines. He said that the interior part of The Legends Outlets is private property, not seen from outside streets. Legends businesses that can be seen from the outside, such as Jose Pepper’s restaurant, would need a permit for a vending machine outside, according to Richardson.
Commissioner Angela Markley said she thought the two issues here were first, whether the ordinance should apply throughout the city, and second, how the UG feels about vending machines in general. She favored the same rule applying throughout the city. Also, she said she didn’t mind pop machines in front of grocery stores, and they might be convenient for people waiting for the bus to grab a pop.
Commissioner Jane Philbrook said she believes the rules should be the same across the board. However, she was concerned that a change would result in more work for code enforcement and police, as they might be making calls about machines that are damaged. In a perfect world, these machines would not be broken into, but they could possibly be a big target, she believes. She said at the Legends, there are cameras on these machines, and regular patrols.
Commissioner Walker said that at another grocery store in Kansas City, Kan., where he shops, there are two old outdoor pop machines that have been there for more than 30 years. Out in front of the store, the store is selling wood, gardening plants, propane, salt, dirt and gardening supplies. Outdoor vending in front of stores is very common around the city, he said.
He said it didn’t make any sense to ban vending machines in front of Walmart when there were vending machines within a half-mile of it that have been in Argentine for years. The city needs either to enforce the ordinance or not. He said it was one of those ordinances that looks good on paper, but not in reality. While he understands that city planners generally do not like vending machines in front of stores, he said that what is good for other cities such as Leawood and Overland Park isn’t necessarily good for Kansas City, Kan.
“It’s wrong for businesses in this community to be deprived of an opportunity that enhances their revenues,” he said.
The committee voted 4-0 to advance the issue of an ordinance change to a future full UG Commission meeting for discussion and a recommendation. The UG staff was directed to look into it and prepare an ordinance that permits vending machines in front of grocery stores. Philbrook voted in favor of the motion, saying she’d like to see where this issue goes.
According to UG officials, if the full commission recommends an ordinance change on this topic, it will then have to go through the Planning Commission and then back to the full commission for final approval.