Reporting Jason Allen
FATE (CBSDFW.COM) - It’s a business built on celebrating freedom. The Nelson family is trying to save their company though, from a city that wants them to destroy it.
The city of Fate made a proposal to Nelson’s Fireworks and Alamo Fireworks, that would allow them to keep their businesses open through next August, only if they agree to demolish everything on their properties by October 2014. The proposal came as Fate is trying to annex the properties, which currently sit in Rockwall county.
Rex Nelson said no one has explained to him why the city wants him to pay to demolish all the improvements on his property, including the concrete slab.
“Something’s rotten in Denmark, that’s all I know,” he said. “Something’s not right. It makes no logical sense.”
Because city ordinance prohibits the sale of fireworks, Nelson said he started meeting with city officials several weeks ago to try to work out an agreement to stay in business. He said officials indicated they wanted improvements to the parking lot, landscaping and building façade. The demolition proposal he said shocked him.
No one with Fate had any answers for CBS 11 either. City manager Philip Rodriguez who made the offer last week, left the city Monday. Economic development director Justin Weiss said he was unaware of the rationale behind the demolition. Two city council members who responded to requests said discussions on the issue were confidential.
Mayor Bill Broderick said the proposal was recommended by staff, and agreed to by the council, but after agreeing to explain in an interview, he said he was late for a meeting and walked away.
Nelson still can’t quite believe what’s happening. “Coming in and taking a persons livelihood out from underneath ‘em, for no reason,” he said. “No one can give me a reason why they’re doing this. And they won’t give me a reason. It’s wrong.”
An employee at Alamo Fireworks, which operates in three states and often sells property, said the company had never run across a similar offer before. He believes Fate wants to make the property along I-30 in the area attractive to developers.
The efforts of the city will cost Nelson more than a business location. With the inventory they’ve already ordered, the value of the building, and the cost of demolition, the Nelson’s would actually lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if they agree to the proposal.
The city council tabled the final vote on annexing the properties when they came up in a meeting Wednesday. A city attorney said a decision has to be made within the next 19 days or the annexation process has to be restarted.
Officials in Roanoke already forced the Nelson’s largest store to close, earlier this year.
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