The St. Clair Board of Aldermen will not consider granting a license for a new business until issues are sorted out and resolved regarding a current business on the property.
The action, or lack of it, came during the board’s latest meeting at city hall.
The issue centers on TORK Ltd. and its owner, John O’Neil, and the lack of compliance on the part of the business located at 1270 Pami St. off of the South Outer Road on the city’s extreme north side. According to information provided during the meeting, O’Neil has applied for a new business license under the name of Riverside Farms at the same location. The application states the business would sell garden supplies.
Information also stated that O’Neil had not applied for or received a business license for TORK Ltd., an auto salvage company, at least as far back as 2010. In addition, he has been in violation of operating that type of a business within city limits and for not removing debris from the site as ordered.
“It is my recommendation that this business license be denied until such time that Mr. O’Neil is in compliance with city ordinances,” St. Clair Building Inspector Jeremy Crowe said in a report to the board of aldermen. “Furthermore, I recommend that the board of aldermen allow the city attorney to file a complaint through the municipal court of the city of St. Clair ... asking the judge to impose a fine and requesting that the court issue an order requiring TORK Ltd. to suspend its operations until all violations have been resolved and all applicable delinquent fees and fines have been paid.”
City Attorney Kurt Voss said during the Feb. 4 meeting that O’Neil could be cited for having no business license in 2012 as well as 2013, since the Feb. 1 deadline has passed. He also said the business can be cited for cleanup violations.
He stressed, however, that there are the two separate issues.
“It’s up to the board whether to allow a new business to start with current violations in place with the existing business,” Voss said.
Scott Hickinbotham of Hickinbotham Real Estate attended the meeting and told the board he owned the property in question. He said he plans on working with O’Neil to remedy the situation.
“I just need to know what we have to do to be in compliance,” Hickinbotham said.
Voss responded by saying that the 2013 business license needs to be obtained and the compliance issues need to be remedied through the city’s inspection office.
“In my opinion, this needs to be resolved before a new license is issued,” he said.
A motion was made and approved to table the new business license request until Crowe and City Administrator Rick Childers looked into the matter further.
Childers also told board members that a list of all businesses that are delinquent in obtaining their 2013 operating licenses will be distributed during the next meeting, which was rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19, because of Presidents Day falling on Monday, Feb. 18.
Childers said his original intent was to have the list ready for the Feb. 4 meeting, but the workload in other areas prevented him from getting it ready.
“I’ll defer bringing you that list until the next meeting,” he said.
A city business license carries a $50 price tag.
According to Chapter 13, Section 8 in the city’s code of ordinances, business owners are supposed to renew their operating licenses by Jan. 31. Penalties for not doing so can range from a late payment fee of 10 percent for each month the business operates with no license to the business being forced to close its doors.
“Any person, firm, company or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not less than $10 or more than $500 in addition to any other penalties prescribed therein,” a portion of that ordinance reads. “Each day of failure to comply or that such violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.”
The ordinance also states that the city can pursue the legal action that includes a “personal judgment against the violator.”
Finally, the ordinance reads that an order can be issued against the violators “requiring the business which is in noncompliance or violation of this chapter to suspend its operations until such business obtains a license and pays all applicable and delinquent fees.”