Charles Brett Garner stands with family in front of the banner at the Old Red Barn, Hurricane, Utah, March 3, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
HURRICANE — Following the revocation of his business license by the Hurricane City Council in February, Charles Brett Garner hired an attorney to fight the city’s decision.
Standing in front of his business, the Old Red Barn at 275 W. State St., where he has hung a banner announcing the close of his business, Garner told St. George News the revocation at the Feb. 20 City Council meeting wasn’t about rules and regulations but instead had to do with a personal bias against him.
He said the issue started about a decade ago with Toni Foran, the planning director for Hurricane City.
“We crossed Toni Foran about 10 years ago. She tried to shut that business down, and we fought it,” he said. “And she’s had it out for us ever since.”
Foran told St. George News she has no hard feelings toward Garner.
“I have treated him like every other business owner. I have made him aware of the rules and asked him to follow them over the course of different things that he’s done,” she said.
Foran said Garner would be able to get a business license if he just makes the required improvements on his building in order to get it up to code.
“The building would be required to be brought up to code per the fire standards and international code standards,” she said. “If he were able to get an architect to design what needs to be done, get a building permit, get the work done, get a certificate of occupancy, of course, he could get a business license.”
St. George News reached out to Garner’s attorney, Ben Ruesch of Ruesch & Reeve PLLC, and asked if he believed Garner has a case against the city.
“Yes, in my opinion, he does have a legal basis for fighting the city,” Ruesch said in an email response. “We are currently exploring all available claims and remedies, including whether the city’s action constitutes an unconstitutional taking of Mr. Garner’s property rights. … We prefer that the city simply issue a business license to Mr. Garner to allow him to conduct his retail and restaurant business. It would save a lot of time and money for everyone involved.”
Garner told St. George News the Hurricane Police have shown up at his other business, Southern State Motors business at 505 N. State St. in Hurricane, several times saying they had received emails that Garner wasn’t allowed to conduct business in the city.
“So I said, ‘No, I have a business license here, and I have an attorney if you’d like to speak with my attorney,’” Garner said.
Hurricane Mayor John Bramall told St. George News that in regards to the Old Red Barn location, Garner had a permit to do 10 sales, and he exceeded that.
“The building hasn’t been used for about 20 years other than him storing things. They inspected it years ago and told him what he needed to do to open up, and nothing’s changed,” Bramall said.
Hurricane City Council member Nanette Billings, who was the only member to vote against revoking Garner’s business license, said she visited Garner’s building and saw that he had done many upgrades.
During the meeting on Feb. 20, Billings recommended Garner be able to conduct business under a set of proposed agreements: that he would clean up after every sale; that he doesn’t hinder other people’s ability to get into the parking lot; and that he put caution tape and cones around the broken concrete in the parking lot.
She also asked for Garner to be given an extension until May, and if he abided by these three things, the council could reevaluate and decide where to go from there.
“I’m pro-business. I want every business to function, but I don’t want to have them hindering another business. I have to think of all businesses,” Billings said.
Since the City Council meeting when Garner’s license was revoked, Billings said Garner has reached out to her to see if he could come back into the council, and she said she told him that he would need to visit with the mayor, as he is who decides who is on the agenda.
“It makes me sad, but I also know we have rules and regulations,” she said. “When Kevin Tervort made the motion to revoke his business license, he also said, ‘Brett, I’m doing you a favor.’ He said, ‘This is giving you an opportunity to find another way to do this.’”
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