FLOWERY BRANCH — Terry’s Auto Towing Service, a longtime fixture off Atlanta Highway, is no more — at least for now, its owner declares.
The city yanked Terry’s business license on April 7, after city officials expressed concerns that Terry’s operated on several properties but only had a business license for one.
Flowery Branch City Council, holding a hearing on the matter March 18, initially suspended Terry’s license pending compliance with certain requirements, including submitting a site plan “showing certain ... improvements to (the property),” according to a letter from Mayor Diane Hirling.
The city also left room for timely revisions to the site plan as needed.
“To date, we have not received any response,” Hirling said in her letter, going on to mention that operating without a business license carries a fine of up to $1,000 per day and one year imprisonment.
City Attorney Ron Bennett told council on April 15 the police department could cite the business if it continues to operate at the location and Terry’s otherwise had 20 days to “clean up” the area.
“The only thing we can really say at this point, from the city’s perspective, is that we are continuing to work with them to hopefully re-establish their business,” City Planner James Riker said, adding that Terry’s can reapply for a business license at any time.
The matter has entered legal territory.
In an interview earlier this week, Darrell Terry, the business’ owner, said he has approached a lawyer, although he was put off by a required $20,000 upfront fee.
Terry said he doesn’t feel his business has been given a fair shake, especially as he has been at the same location for 18 years, while other businesses have come and gone during that time.
He said he went through proper steps in setting up his business, meeting both city and county requirements at that time.
“I thought I was doing right,” Terry said. “Then, they changed it over. Anything inside Flowery Branch, the business licenses would have to be bought through (the city).
“I said I’ve been here 18 years — I’m not grandfathered? (City officials’ reply was) ‘Oh, we don’t have grandfathering in our town.’ I said, ‘How did this get to be your town? I’m a lot longer resident of this community than any of the council (members) — all of them put together.’”
Terry’s is now operating off West Ridge Road in Gainesville and operates a wrecker service in Winder, Terry said.
He added that he is having trouble with the site plan required by the city, including a requirement that he block off a shared driveway with a neighboring convenience store/gas station.
“We use it when we go get fuel and save having to get out in the road,” he said.
But the hope is to eventually return to Flowery Branch.
“I’ll be back ... if it takes a big lawsuit,” Terry said. “My dad always said, ‘If you kick that sleeping dog, you’re going to wake him up. You kick him enough, he’s gonna bite.’ ”