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Take that chain and shove it

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  • | 11:00 a.m. June 24, 2016
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The city of Holmes Beach, between Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island in Manatee County, has a message for franchise and chain businesses: go away.

The city commission, in a unanimous vote held June 14, agreed to proceed with plans to temporarily ban franchise and chain businesses from opening in the city. The moratorium, if approved after a reading and another meeting, could last at least six months, Commission Chairwoman Judy Titsworth says.

“We already have a CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, Publix, Dominoes and others, so we have to make sure the large-type franchises don't put the mom and pop stores out of business,” Titsworth tells Coffee Talk. “It's not that we are disallowing it. But we just want it to be a franchise that doesn't change the character of Holmes Beach. We want them to conform a little bit.”

The moratorium stems from complaints residents and storeowners made in regard to a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins and a Smoothie King scheduled to open in a shopping center on East Bay Drive. East Manatee County-based real estate giant Benderson Development owns the plaza, the Anna Maria Island Centre.

Steve Galloway, an executive with Tampa-based Velocity Brand Holdings, which owns Dunkin' Donuts franchise rights in Manatee and Hillsborough counties, didn't return several calls for comment.

The Smoothie King owner, Dave Cotrone Jr., who operates four franchised Smoothie King locations in the Manatee County area with his parents, was surprised at the broad-based negative reaction to the chains. “We are local people who have been in this community 20 years,” Cotrone says. “This isn't big Corporate America coming to town to take over.”

City officials, says Titsworth, studied ordinances in other cities that dealt with this issue to craft the wording of its potential moratorium. San Francisco officials, for example, recently set up special permits for most chains, what the city calls formula businesses, to open in specific neighborhoods. One set of rules was enacted to prevent a Whole Foods from entering the marketplace.

In Holmes Beach, the moratorium would include retail or service businesses with more than 10 national locations and standardized signs, a trademark and uniforms. The ban would be forward-looking, and not impact franchise or chain businesses already there. Another ordinance could oversee how the city monitors current franchise businesses, says Titsworth, which generate about 10% of Holmes Beach business tax receipts.

No resident voiced objections to the idea of a moratorium at the June 14 meeting, says Titsworth — people who did complain, vented against Dunkin' Donuts. And city officials have worked similar issues in the past, including a moratorium on rental properties in 2013.

Titsworth, on the flip side, acknowledges a moratorium could raise property rights issues, for the landlord and tenant. She also recognizes many franchisees are small business owners, not mega-corporations. “There is something to be said for free enterprise,” says Titsworth. “We went into this with our eyes wide open.”


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