A Lewisburg-based businessman is scheduled to appear in Chapel Hill Town Court today on charges that he was conducting business on Spring Creek Road without a permit during the annual tractor pull.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Jackie King on July 20 and 21 cited Michael Farrar of Farrar Bail Bonding, 203 1st Ave., North, to appear before Town Judge Bill Haywood at 1 p.m. because Farrar didn't have a temporary dealer permit.
Farrar complains he was denied the permit he requested and that the town tried to force him to rent space from the Lions Club during the tractor pull that attracted thousands of people to the event at Forrest High School. Farrar said he rented a family's front yard for $100 instead of paying the Lions $500 for 100-square-feet at the school stadium during the two-day event.
Town Administrator Mike Hatten on Thursday said substantially the same thing he has before on the situation: The town wanted to protect public safety; The area was congested so the permit was denied and the application wasn't completed properly.
Farrar said he and Chief King spoke about the town code that was used to cite him to court.
"Do I qualify for the permit," Farrar has asked rhetorically while discussing his conversation with King. "He said, 'The mayor said 'No.'"
Farrar has Shelbyville-based attorney John Norton as his lawyer. Norton has told Chapel Hill that "adverse enforcement" will result in civil litigation.
Town Attorney J. Todd Moore has explained that without a permit, Farrar shouldn't have displayed merchandise for sale on the front yard he rented from Phil and Tammy Sullivan. However, Farrar could use the property as a place to advertise his bail bond service.
Farrar said he wanted to sell four-wheelers and other merchandise and advertise his service. He said he's done so at similar events and from that experience he calculates what he believes he could have made from his enterprise on July 20-21.
"I could have profited $1,000 to $2,200," he said of his anticipated net after expenses.
"They're trying to squash the small businessman," Farrar said. "Is Chapel Hill not a part of the community in Lewisburg?
"Is Chapel Hill saying they don't want me because we're not from Chapel Hill?"
The conflict between Farrar and the town became known among visitors and residents at the tractor pull, Farrar said, adding, "People felt sorry for me."
Hatten had said that the public would be behind the town that is supportive of the Lions Club, a civic organization that's provided public services to the community such as a building for an ambulance station and facilities at the ball field.
Farrar said that he, too, has contributed to charitable efforts that benefit the communities where he operates his business.
As for the town's situation yesterday, Hatten said, "At this point [Farrar] will go before the town judge and then the wheels of justice will begin to turn."
Farrar wasn't issued a temporary dealers permit "because of congested area and he didn't fill out the application properly," Hatten said.
There were probably more than 20,000 people in Chapel Hill when the tractor pull was being conducted.
The town administrator also noted that Farrar is "not an established business owner in Chapel Hill."
Offered an opportunity to state the town's position, Hatten replied, "The Town of Chapel Hill does not discriminate against anyone. We do support free enterprise. I'm sorry, of course, that it's come to this, but it seems we had no alternate choice at this time."
Hatten won't be attending the town court hearing today because of family activities.
Meanwhile, one of Farrar's business partners will. She's Connie Niamon, proprietor of Sweetie Pie's on East Commerce Street.
"Marshall County has more issues to deal with other than focusing so much on this matter," said Niamon, a partner in a totally separate venture with Farrar. "Mr. Farrar does seem to be harassed a lot and if people would appreciate what he does, instead of putting him down, maybe this town would be much better off."
Chapel Hill Town Court is held in a building on Horton Highway that houses the fire department, police station and a satellite office for the Chamber of Commerce. It's where the city board meets.