Clay County may limit mobile businesses

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - The claws are out in Clay County as commissioners battle over an ordinance that puts restrictions on mobile businesses, specifically a vet clinic called Cheap Shots that is operated from a trailer.

"You can make your justifications, rationalizations, but this is strictly anti-competitive," Cheap Shots owner David Watkins said. "We are regulated by the state, and that's who inspects us. We've never had a complaint."

At a board meeting, the owner argued his right to run the clinic on wheels, while vets with permanent locations within county limits made the case that mobile businesses could create unfair competition.

"I've been here 25 year, I've paid my permits on time, my occupation license, my taxes, everything else, and it's a little bit of a slap in the face to have someone from the county to agree to have another business come in and not have to do those same things I am required to do," veterinarian Greg Price said.

If passed, the ordinance would limit mobile businesses to four hours of operation a day, only allow them four days of operation per year and keep them 1,500 feet away from a business providing a similar service -- rules that are dividing opinions on the board.

"It's a huge problem when the government takes upon itself to figure out how to stop a legal Florida business from operating to help another group of businesses make more revenue," said Ronnie Robinson, of Clay County.

"How do we preserve economic development and a good business atmosphere and take care of the folks who are here paying the way," Clay County Commissioner Wendell Davis said.

As debate circled around Cheap Shots, which operates out of a trailer and operated by a Jacksonville Beach businessman, a handful of pet owners took the podium, pointing out many are customers on fixed incomes who rely on the reduced prices.

"Any vet could probably offer a reduced price to a senior citizen on a limited budget or disabled person," Nancy Sinclair said.

The board will vote on the proposed ordinance in February.

Cheap Shots has a permanent location in Duval County but does not have to pay property taxes in Clay County.

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