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Planning Board makes mobile business recommendation at Tuesday meeting

About 20 citizens and business owners packed the small County Planning Board meeting room Tuesday night.

"We have a singular issue tonight which is not common," said Planning Director Fred Guerrant, as he opened the meeting. "We have an application to change the text of a zoning ordinance... and it affects not only the applicant, but it will affect everyone."

Jarvis McNair, the owner of Poppa's Barbecue, which is usually set up in the parking lot of Auto Zone on Washington Road, submitted an application to change the text of the county ordinance that limits his operations to commercial zones for no longer than 60 days in a calendar year.

Mr. McNair said he has been in business since May, selling barbecue on Fridays and Saturdays, so his time is about to expire. Mr. McNair said he is required by the health department to have a permanent location to store his food and clean equipment, to get a food service permit, and will have to get a business license in January.

"Before I got started, I talked to Mr. Guerrant and did what I needed to do so that I would be legal. I want to be legal. But at the same time, I am a small business man trying to make a living," Mr. McNair said.

Mr. Guerrant said the ordinance refers to any mobile business, whether it sells produce, flowers, furniture, food or washes cars.

Other business owners attended the meeting, including Wallace Davis, who sells produce at an intersection, Mike Neal, who owns Neal's Barbecue on the Augusta Highway and Liz Smith, who owns Little G's Pizza and Subs on Hill Street in Thomson.

Ms. Smith said she has nothing against Mr. McNair, but she does feel that mobile businesses have an unfair advantage over stabilized businesses. Ms. Smith said she pays $3,000 in rent and utilities at the first of every month.

"So don't you think that ain't a slap to see somebody selling out the back of a truck across the street," she said.

The board voted to make no change to the ordinance, and the recommendation will go before the County Commission at their December meeting.

Web posted on Thursday, December 07, 2006

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