Derek Calhoun said all he wants is to be able to make a living for his family — but he says the city of North Myrtle Beach is trying to prevent that from happening.
He has filed a lawsuit in federal court to try to keep his beach wares business afloat.
Calhoun owns Cherry Grove Beach Gear, a company that provides a multitude of beach wares such as umbrellas, chairs, coolers and other items to folks heading for a day on the beach. Customers call or apply online for the beach wares and Calhoun’s employees have them set up on the beach and waiting.
The city of North Myrtle Beach says only the city or a franchised business can actually set up items on the beach for profit and they have structured an existing ordinance that makes Calhoun’s operation illegal.
Calhoun tried to appeal to the city council but to no avail. Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the city garners roughly $3 million a year from the rentals of chairs and umbrellas and added that the council didn’t want visitors bombarded with business solicitations while trying to enjoy the beach.
Cherry Grove Beach Gear doesn’t make same-day rentals, Calhoun said. “We refer all same day business to the city employees.”
Once the ordinance was put in place, Calhoun has been hit with a $500 daily fine, totaling $5,500 so far.
“They continued to fine me even after filing the lawsuit,” he said. “The city will not listen to anything we say or suggest so the court was our only option.”
On Constitutional grounds, Calhoun is asking the city ordinance be put aside to let him continue. He is also asking that all the fines be dropped and the city pick up his attorney fees.
“There are other businesses in the city that this law affects,” Calhoun said. “We didn’t want to name them and put a target on their back.”
City spokesman Donald Graham said he didn’t think the city had actually been served with the lawsuit though the council did have an executive session to discuss it. He said it’s city policy not to discuss specifics of pending litigation.
Graham said there are four businesses in the city currently licensed to provide rental beach wares.
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