Pelham council enacts one-year business license moratorium

PELHAM – A business license moratorium has once again been enacted within the city of Pelham for certain types of businesses.

At a July City Council meeting, a one-year moratorium was passed by the council by a vote of 2-1. Council members Mildred Lanier and Ron Scott were absent. At the meeting, Council President Rick Hayes said the council needed “to step back and take a look at this and the way it was done.”

The resolution prevents new business licenses from being granted to pay day loan, car title loan, check cashing, gold and silver brokers, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, massage parlor, vape shop, tobacco shop, landscaping product sales and used automobile sales businesses. The resolution states that the over-development of these types of businesses is detrimental to the city’s development and limits the ability of the city to attract diverse types of businesses.

Hayes said the city’s business license ordinance that was passed in late May was put in place with the best intentions, but the city learned through its attorneys that were still some issues related to it that needed to be reevaluated. Hayes said the ordinance also needs to be looked at in conjunction with the comprehensive plan for the city that is currently being created.

Pelham leaders initially passed a moratorium prohibiting business licenses for certain businesses in summer 2014, and it expired in May 2017.

“We need to get better at this and learn more so that we move forward with a future ordinance that best addresses the needs of the city,” Hayes said.

Mercer, who voted against the resolution, voiced concern about the fairness of the move because it adversely affected a business that has been in the Pelham community for 20 years. Mercer said the business submitted an application for a license and spent about $18,000 to get the business in compliance with building codes.

“It’s unfair to him to say here’s the finish line and then shut him down,” Mercer said. “We have a business that followed the procedures that we had outlined prior to this meeting and who has not had his opportunity to be heard.”

Mercer said he wanted to hold off on voting on the proposed moratorium until Lanier and Scott were present and so that the business owner could have an opportunity to speak before the council.

“We all sympathize in that situation, but we as a council aren’t making a decision on that case but we’re making it on a much bigger perspective,” Hayes said.

Hayes said the business owner was informed that the business license would not be granted without the City Council’s approval. He said owner could still speak to the council, put a different kind of business in the space that wouldn’t be impacted by the moratorium or move forward with his business plans at a later date.

Hayes and Councilwoman Beth McMillian, who said she felt comfortable with the resolution as written, voted in favor of the resolution.

In other business, the council:

-Approved an ordinance to vacate a portion of a 20-foot utility easement located in Griffin Park at Eagle Point.

-Approved a resolution to accept the lowest qualified bid for protective clothing in the amount of $1,938 per set from Sunbelt Fire Inc. for the Pelham Fire Department.

-Approved an ABC license application for AIZA, LLC., operating under the trade name Riverchase Exxon, 2030 Old Montgomery Highway.

-Revoked the business license of Reneau, Inc., doing business as Subway, for failure to file and pay applicable sales, use and liquor taxes to the city of Pelham.