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Ordinance Forces Boys to Close Lemonade Stand

May 30, 1987

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ The long arm of bureaucracy has forced two brothers to close a lucrative business that helped them buy a home computer and a trip to Disneyland.

Chip Merrick, 14, and J.J. Merrick, 7, had to close their lemonade stand, a neighborhood institution, because it violated a city zoning ordinance.

The business had slaked the thirsts of deputy sheriffs, city workers, paramedics and moving van crews for three years, but it’s gone now because of an anonymous caller.

The bad news was delivered last week by C.C. Smallwood, a city code enforcement official. The area is zoned for residences, the lemonade stand apparently is a business, and it costs $650 to apply for a zoning change.

″On my own, I wouldn’t have done it,″ Smallwood said. ″So many times, I thought about stopping there and buying lemonade. It was cute.″

But he said when a complaint is filed with the city, officials have to take action. He said the complainant refused to give a name.

″We were planning on vacationing and taking some bike tours in New England″ at the end of the summer, Chip Merrick said. ″It doesn’t look like we will be able to now.″

Bruce Merrick, the boys’ father, said he wanted to teach them to follow rules and regulations. So he told them to close the stand. Then he called the mayor’s office.

″Everyone we talked to said they support us, but their hands are tied because a complaint was filed,″ he said.

Before putting the lemonade profits in their pockets, the boys gave part of the money to their church and several hundred dollars for missionary work, their father said.