Donut Shop Facing Barriers in Hastings

Donut Shop Facing Barriers in Hastings

In Hastings, a new Dunkin’ Donuts location is having trouble setting up shop, and June 3rd’s National Donut Day is helping bring attention to the controversy.

While the lot has been zoned by the city for an eating place like a donut shop, one forceful opponent of the project is the neighboring Bank of Doniphan, which has filed an injunction to stop the building.

The bank argues that a covenant drawn up by the original land developer assured only commercial office space would be built on the land, including banks like themselves, and that the new shop will make driving in and out of their lot too difficult.

This story provides a good example that it’s not always the big bad government getting in the way of Nebraskans creating new jobs. Existing businesses with more local clout can also pose a barrier to entrepreneurs trying to enter the marketplace.

And it sounds like both sides may have a bit of a point from a property rights standpoint. If the covenant is still enforceable, the original seller may not have fully informed the developer or the city of the limitations of the property.

 At the same time, if Bank of Doniphan didn’t want neighbors, they could have bought the lot, which the Hastings Tribune reports has sat empty for ten years. Instead, a new business saw an opportunity to attract customers to that location and bought up the land.

In our new video on barriers to opportunity in Nebraska, we tell the story of Luke French, whose food truck was kept out of the City of Lincoln, in no small part because existing brick-and-mortar restaurants do not want to compete with him setting up shop in public parking spaces.

But a rule that restricts the use of public (or private) space merely to protect one business over another serves no public purpose. That’s why the most food truck-friendly cities largely place no blanket restrictions on parking except in following traffic rules, keeping intersections clear, and protecting the right-of-way for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Dollars to donuts, Nebraskans will get more economic opportunities if they remember to put more choices and property rights ahead of catering only to those who want to use laws and ordinances to keep someone out of their neighborhood.

Photo by Angeldm

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