Lumberton threatens to close businesses

By: Jeff Daley | email

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Lumberton city clerks have delivered letters to several businesses warning if they do not renew their overdue privilege licenses immediately, they will be forced to close by the city.

The city claims the applications for renewal were sent out in September of 2008, and so far 16 businesses have yet to comply.

Several of the affected business owners claim they never received the renewal application or subsequent delinquent notices. Many expressed they did not have a problem with the city attempting to bring businesses into compliance, but questioned the threatening way in which it was done.

"I think it was inappropriate the way they sent the law down to serve us and say that we didn't have the license by Monday we would be closed down," said Janie Bounds, co-owner of BCR Collision in Lumberton.

"I can understand their side of the story about wanting the license to be renewed, but at the same time in my case they make it so hard for me to get a license to begin with that sometime you feel like throwing up your hands and walking off," said Michael Worthington, owner of Canopy Club Cafe at the Lumberton Airport.

Mayor Larry Strahan disagrees with the way the office has handled the situation, and calls it a political move by the board of aldermen.

"As mayor of Lumberton, I'm supposed to represent all the people, " said Strahan.  "I don't want to be out here harassing businesses. I don't want Lumberton to be seen as harassing businesses."

Alderwoman Nell Busby said the situation was not the result of politics, but was the office doing their job by bringing the businesses into compliance. She also said she believed Strahan is making an issue out of it this because two businesses owned by Strahan's son and daughter-in-law were among those singled out for failure to re-new.