A McKinney businessman says his request for help with traffic issues near Third Monday Trade Days grounds to police resulted in a citation.
Traffic snarls along the U.S. Highway 380 on busy weekends as some customers park across the highway and dodge 60 mph traffic to get to the market.
Third Monday owner Darrell Lewis asked McKinney police for help with the traffic woes last month.
"I asked them just to park a police car along the road just to slow the traffic down," he said.
Trade markets have been a tradition in McKinney since the 1800s, and the buying, selling and bartering is in full swing at the grounds once a month.
"Third Monday is the oldest market in north Texas and the largest one," Lewis said.
Patrol officers came out to inspect the issue and even videotaped several near-misses as pedestrians sprinted into traffic and danger. Police then asked him to apply for a permit.
"We asked him to go ahead and apply for a special events permit through the city so we could get involved in his business that is affecting public right-of-way," Assistant Chief Randy Roland said.
The $25 permit is basically a processing fee that would get the ball rolling on a traffic enforcement strategy.
Lewis refused to get the permit and was hit with a citation and fine of $269.
"We've never had to have any permits at all,” he said.
He said he was concerned that getting a permit could change the status of his business, opening the door for other types of code enforcement and fees.
Lewis also rejects the idea of hiring off-duty officers at $35 per hour to work traffic enforcement.
When asked if he ever planned on getting the permit, Lewis bluntly said, "No, I will not."
McKinney police said Lewis will get a second citation and fine on Monday.
Roland agrees with Lewis that the market is so successful that it creates a problem in the public right-of-way. But he said Lewis bears some responsibility for ensuring the matter is taken care of, just as churches across the city do every Sunday.
Lewis said he plans to fight the citation in court.
"They have a public safety responsibility, I don't," he said. "That is their job, and if they're refusing to do their job unless they extract from me some money to help them do their job that's blackmail."
Lewis will appear in court next week.