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‘Boot man’ almost back in business

After months of confusion, it looks like one local businessman will be back in operation after all.

Kurt Henderson, who operated a “wheel locking” service up until the last few months, has been seeking a city business license to do so for the past several years. That license was granted Tuesday by the Troy City Council after the governing body received an OK from the Attorney General’s Office.

The license approved Tuesday was an amendment to the municipal business ordinance, allowing for wheel locking services as part of its already existing towing license.

Henderson has sought to have a specific wheel-locking license since 2008. This was when he, who once owned a wrecker service, began to only provide wheel locking to apartment complexes attempting to control parking.

The city had no wheel-locking business in its municipal code, and Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said all involved were under the impression it had to have state approval to amend its code.

“We did that because Mr. Henderson requested we do that,” Lunsford said. “There was no provision that allowed us to do so, and Auburn and Tuscaloosa had gone to the Legislature to get it.”

Henderson, along with Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, had a proposal drafted and passed three separate times at the local level, but due to different reasons it never made it through the session in time.

After the bill was passed locally this year, it raised some questions in the minds of city officials: Why does the service need a state bill to pass, if it’s already a service performed in Troy?

The answer, as far as the city attorney Dickey Calhoun could determine was wheel locking wasn’t legal without the license.

That’s when the question, at the request of Henderson, was sent to the Alabama AG’s office, asking if there was any way to locally amend its own code and allow for this business.

The AG’s office concluded: “Whether to issue a business license is a factual determination that may only be made by the city.”

So, the council moved quickly Tuesday, unanimously making an amendment to its business code.

“I’m pleased with it…” Henderson said.

“I’ve been out of work for 37 days for the first time in 35 years.”

Though this is an issue he’s been facing for years, Henderson said his only frustration in the situation is not being able to work.

“I’m just hoping the problem is resolved.”

The amendment will have to be advertised in The Messenger for one day, and wheel locking as a business will be legal the following day.

“It is our desire to accomplish this as quickly as possible,” said Council President Johnny Witherington.

The code, as all city business licenses, will come with some provisions, including a $200 license fee and minimum insurance requirements.

It also has requirements for posting signs in places wheel locking services may be used and imposes a maximum $60 fee to have the car boots removed.

In addition, all wheel-locked vehicles must be reported to the Troy Police Department within an hour of the time the vehicle is locked.

Also in the meeting, the council introduced two ordinances it plans to consider in its next meeting.

The first will be an amendment to the zoning ordinance to require a $50 deposit on all zoning appeal requests to come before the city.

These appeals come to the city council after the Planning Commission denies that request. Lunsford said this provision will also ensure the city is compensated for the advertising costs incurred in the process.

The other ordinance will ensure the city is in line with the Department of Transportation’s requests on its alcohol and drug policies.

The council was also presented a plaque from Pike County Economic Development Corporation’s President Marsha Gaylard for its recent CiCi Award.

The award was granted to the city and the PCEDC for the recruitment of CGI, naming it one of 15 communities with the industry that has the biggest local impact.

Though the award had already been announced, this was the official presentation before all the council.