Letter: Code Enforcement harasses local business owners

Letter: Code Enforcement harasses local business owners

Emily Chase
Palm Coast, FL

My husband and I are young parents to two girls, and have just bought our first house in Palm Coast.

We have recently opened a yard art and statue company in St Johns County called Garden of Needin’. We are located at DuPont Center, on the corner of US-1 and SR-206. You may recognize us by the big purple aluminum chicken on the corner.

My husband works from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week. He is very dedicated and hardworking. We have had much success at our new business and have finally gotten comfortable.

For about two months, St Johns County has selectively enforced codes and guidelines against us that are impossible to follow. Although we have committed to “playing ball” with them and done whatever we must to fall within their guidelines, they have refused to allow us to do business here.

They insist our property is not zoned for the type of business we are doing. There is a similar business on every other corner of that intersection. They all make retail sales. I don’t understand why we are being harassed.

We paid a $3,000 application fee to appeal the zoning decision, but we were denied. They gave us a list of permitted business sales for this zoning, most of them being sex shops, bong stores, liquor sales, and other “acceptable” companies.

On the list it says we may operate a plant nursery. We were working on combining our yard art with a nursery, until we were shot down on that idea — even though a nursery is on the approved list.

Code enforcement comes to our shop on a daily basis and takes our signs down. They harasses us in front of our customers. We pay our taxes, we pay our bills, we have good intentions, and still we have been shot down numerous times.

We are being forced to leave in 15 days.

My husband will have no income. We will have no way to sell the thousands of dollars in inventory we have purchased.

We regret ever coming to St Augustine. You do NOT support local businesses in any way, shape, or form here.

I hope everyone on the Board of St Johns County commissioners cashes their hourly paycheck and sleeps well every night, while my husband and I toss and turn endless nights hoping we will find a solution.

If you are a potential business owner and you are considering St Johns County to locate your business, you need to think twice and beware of what you are getting yourself into.

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