The owner of a Rincon custom motorcycle shop might have to find a new place to run his business after city officials told him that his current business license does not allow him to do business the way he’s presently doing it.
Steve Harrell owns City Limit Customs, a small custom motorcycle fabrication shop, that started in the garage of his home on 3rd Avenue a year ago. The business, about the size of a one-car garage, was started when Harrell was granted a Rincon business license. The type of license is described in the application as a general license and under business description, a fairly detailed listing of business activities is given, including fabricating custom motorcycle seats, tanks and other parts, and that most of the work will be done over the Internet.
And that’s where the city says the problem — or misinterpretation — is.
Harrell said most of his business is conducted over the Internet. Ninety percent of parts business is done over the net and orders for custom bike work also come mostly from the Internet. Harrell said he really doesn’t have any “walk-in customers.”
“I’ve got to have the appearance of having a real shop to have (parts) vendors,” he said of why he even has signs for business on his walls. “That’s why all of them parts are hanging on the wall.”
City planner LaMeisha Hunter said she had not heard that explanation before. Hunter said a “full-fledged business” is not permitted in a residential location and that Harrell would have to come before council to request a change to the ordinance allowing him conditional use.
He is scheduled to appear before council on Sept. 14 and has to pay a fee of $250 to do so.
What set this in motion was Harrell wanted to have a separate electrical meter installed so the business electrical usage was separate from his household’s. When the city building inspector came out to look into it, he informed Harrell that he wasn’t even allowed to have a business, in spite of Harrell’s insistence the city had granted him a business license at that location for two years in a row.
“I feel like I’m being strong-armed by my city government,” Harrell said.
He said he could understand if someone made a mistake the first time by granting him a license, but when it was renewed for 2009, he felt like someone should have said something at that time.
When he received his license renewal, Harrell said, it was actually hand-delivered by someone from the city “who could clearly see everything we were doing.”
“Since I’ve opened this little shop, I’ve spent about $30,000 in Rincon, not outside,” Harrell said. “And these little pieces of hooks and boards and electrical stuff, and everything else has been spent right here.”
Harrell started his business after losing his job with Springfield Ford. He also employs one worker who had lost his job with Georgia Power.
“I’m glad to be able to help someone feed their family,” he said, “but I’m frustrated now that the city wants to shut me down for no reason.”
A member of Grace Community Church, Harrell has talked with his pastors to help him work through this unexpected situation.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “There are no coincidences, in my opinion. If this is what it takes to get my off my hip pocket and open a big building somewhere, then so be it. But it won’t be in Rincon.”