‘I’m just asking for an exception’; Hurricane City Council revokes business license

Charles Brett Garner speaks at the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 20, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

HURRICANE — During the Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday, council members voted to revoke Charles Brett Garner’s business license following nearly an hour of debate.

Councilman Dave Sanders said the temporary business license was issued on May 1, 2019 for 10 retail sales per year in the parking lot of 275 West State Street. Since that time, more than 10 sales have been held at that location, and the building on that site has been used for storage of materials offered at the sales.

“These are violations of your business license. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to proceed with revoking your business license due to failure to follow local ordinances,” Sanders said.

The building on site was approved in 2004 to be a restaurant, but has not yet been brought up to code.

Garner said he’s just trying to get a business up and running – referring to his restaurant – and in the meantime, he’s been forced to vend on the side of the road per a recommendation from a member of the planning commission who he didn’t name.

Charles Brett Garner seen during a previous meeting of the Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 9, 2020 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“I’m a small-business man. I’m just trying to make a living in this town, and I’m being harassed by your planning department,” he said.

The letter for revocation came along with complaints from citizens. The complaints weren’t about Garner selling on the property but rather for the aftermath he leaves when he’s not selling, said Councilman Darin Larson.

“It’s the tables, the boxes – it looks like a ghetto until the next week,” Larson said. “And that’s where the complaints have come. As people who are adjacent to you … they’re saying ‘this isn’t right.'”

Garner said he agreed with these comments and had been working on fixing up the property.

“But you haven’t,” Larson said.

Because Garner has been using the property for a different purpose outside of the original plan of opening and running a restaurant, the license is incongruent with present operations, Councilwoman Nanette Billings said.

There are two different licenses that allow for roadside vending, said Hurricane Planning Director Toni Foran. One of them refers to the vendor cart ordinance, which allows for a vendor cart to conduct business on an approved site. The other is a temporary retail sales license for a person to use a parking lot to have retail sales up to 10 times per year, which is the license that Garner has.

“I’m asking for the same exceptions you’ve made for everybody else. It might be a little bit different, but it’s an exception, and I’m asking for an exception,” Garner said.

When asked how often he wants to vend roadside, Garner responded “as often as I want.”

Insufficient finances was a reason Garner gave for not having the building up to code yet in order to run a restaurant, noting that all the money he makes vending goes toward fixing up the building.

“I can’t afford to tear down the building and start over,” he said.

One of the main concerns with holding sales on the property addressed by council members during the meeting had to do with safety, particularly broken concrete on the north end of the building between a doorway and a tree.

These types of safety concerns gives the potential of a possible lawsuit should someone get hurt, Hurricane Mayor John Bramall said.

“If the safety concerns are addressed, we issue a license,” Bramall said. “The citizens expect us to watch out for their health and welfare.”

During the meeting, Billings tried to make an offer for Garner to make the needed repairs within the next four months, and if he did they would look at making an amendment to the ordinance. However, Councilman Kevin Tervort said Garner was already in violation of his license at this point and the motion was to either revoke the license or not revoke the license.

A file photo of Hurricane Councilman Kevin Tervort, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 9, 2020 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

With the exception of Billings who voted no, all council members voted in favor of the revocation of Garner’s license. Garner was encouraged afterward to make the needed repairs and then apply for a different license.

“When you shut down a business, you don’t just shut down a business,” Garner said. “You shut down a guy’s livelihood. You shut down his employees’ livelihood. You shut down his children’s expenses. You shut down hospital bills that need to be paid.”

Garner told St. George News that he has identified more than a half a dozen businesses that have a special license that allows them to vend on the side of the road without facilities of some sort.

“Which is (the city’s) claim, that we cannot vend on the side of the road without facilities, and they are allowing other people to do that,” he said.

Garner said he has applied for several types of licenses and has asked city officials to help him identify the license that they’ve given other businesses to conduct the same retail strategy, but that they refused to help him identify that license.

“We feel that we’re being prejudiced against just by them allowing some retailers to sell in this manner and then denying us the opportunity to sell in this manner,” he said.

Garner said he will be seeking further legal council.

One other highlight of the meeting was the council approving the plan for Southern Shore, a private, gated development that will be located just east of Sand Hollow, near the Copper Rock development. This 52-lot subdivision will feature three lakes and is set to begin construction this fall.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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