Several years ago, Derek Calhoun and family had an excellent idea. Families bring their own beach umbrellas and chairs on vacation, but hate lugging them to and from the beach.
Cherry Grove Beach Gear began offering this service. The company is 5 star rated. The tourists love the concept.
The company has a business license with the City of North Myrtle Beach that it has held for the past 3 years. It has never had any issues with the city until this past week.
The problem: Tourists were choosing this small business over the City of North Myrtle Beach’s own beach rental services.
The City of North Myrtle Beach voted Wednesday, July 6th, to amend an ordinance concerning equipment left on the beach overnight.
Under the updated guidelines, businesses other than the city’s rental service can’t leave unattended items like beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. each day.
Derek Calhoun, his family, and friends of Cherry Grove Beach Gear took their concerns directly to city leaders during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I’m sure the council didn’t mean to make my business practices lawful one day, and unlawful the next,” Calhoun said. “I’m sure you didn’t mean to target myself and my business with the approved changes last week.”
Son Addresses City Leaders
Councilwoman Nikki Fontana then responded to Calhoun directly.
“We have never told you that you can’t have your business,” she said. “We love our businesses in North Myrtle Beach. We fight for you guys and try to make the best decisions that we can possibly make for the city as a whole.”
The city says the rule is in place due to those items and debris getting in the way of workers cleaning the beaches each day.
“It has nothing to do with being against one business, and I know you feel that way. It has nothing to do with that,” said North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley.
Calhoun says his business has been fined this week for doing the very work Cherry Grove Beach Gear has done for the past 3 years with no fines.
“We had been operating for months at that point, beach patrol has driven by and never stopped us,” said Calhoun. “That was Officer Reed that day, that came out and said we couldn’t set up. I, as a citizen, chose not to speak.”
By the conclusion of the meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the amended ordinance.
A second reading is expected at the next City Council meeting which will, in effect, shut down Cherry Grove Beach Gear.