Mobile business ordinance too harsh?

Clay County looks to limit businesses on wheels

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - A proposed ordinance in Clay County that would place strict regulations on mobile businesses, specifically a veterinarian who offers "Cheap Shots" on wheels, may be too harsh, some attorneys say.

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.

Attorney Gene Nichols believes the Clay County Commission could be preparing for a legal battle against mobile businesses.

"There are just restrictions in here that are unfair and that are not for the betterment of the Clay County citizens, for their health, safety and welfare, and that's what a law is supposed to do of this magnitude," Nichols said.

Nichols thinks the way this law is drafted could be a step too far, possibly a direct attack against the owner of the Cheap Shots trailer, David Watkins.

"This is certainly anti-competitive," Watkins said. "You take away my business, you are restricting trade, and that is the bottom line of it."

At a commission meeting earlier this week, Watkins vocalized his concern. If passed, the ordinance would only allow his business to operate 16 hours a year, a time limit Nichols calls unreasonable for any business.

"It is the veterinarian's chance to try to get rid of the mobile vet, but at the same time, it is going to impede upon others who have been doing lawful business in Clay County as we see doing everywhere for years," Nichols said.

Some Clay County vets are still backing the proposal, arguing the mobility of the trailer creates an unfair advantage against businesses invested permanently in the community.

"Basically, a level playing field is what we're asking for," veterinarian Greg Price said.

The ordinance is still not set in stone. It's up for a vote by the commission in February.

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