Fight Against Bail Bonds Businesses May End Up In Court

A bail bondsman said he’s planning to sue the city of Brandon for preventing him from opening a shop downtown.

George Sandifer said he applied to open a bail bonding business in a vacant building shortly before the Brandon Board of Aldermen voted to stop new bonding companies from opening in the historic district.

In April, the board voted to stop allowing several businesses — including check cashing, pawn shops, tattoo parlors and bail bondsman — from moving into downtown. The ordinance exempts the businesses that are already there.

Board members said that it’s the first step toward revitalizing the area and making it an arts and shopping district.

But Sandifer’s attorney, Sharon Day, said Sandifer applied to the city and had plans in place before the ordinance passed. She said the board is breaking the law by keeping her client from opening his business.

“I cannot imagine there’s a federal court out there that would not take this matter up,” Day said.

Day said that she’ll file a lawsuit this week if the city fails to give Sandifer a permit.

Alderman Tim Coulter said that the city is in the right and he’s willing to take on the legal battle.

“Sometimes you have people that just don’t agree with the decisions that are made and you have to go that direction,” Coulter said.

Several Brandon residents showed up to Tuesday’s meeting in support of the ordinance and the downtown turnaround they said the city needs.

Sandifer said he has no plans to give up.

“I’m offended and I’m going to see this thing through,” Sandifer said.

WAPT
6/4/8