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Code enforcement gives licensed salon two weeks to close or face $250 per day fine

Clara McCarthy wanted to get away from the high rent of where they were and be close to their two handicapped children.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A Clay County couple is trying to save their business from Clay County Code Enforcement. Their business is carefully tucked away in their home, which is in a residential community.

"We have been open 8 weeks," said Carla McCarthy.

McCarthy and her spouse invested their savings into the business. They wanted to get away from the high rent of where they were and be close to their two handicapped children

"In this COVID-19 environment, we wanted to save and stay here with the boys," she said.

The Florida Department of Business Regulation approved it and issued a license. They paid a contractor to make it make the space functional and safe.

McCarthy said they were told under the Florida Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act they should be okay to run their business from their home.

"We put a lot into this because we want to keep it safe for our clients and the boys," said McCarthy.

A neighbor complained about the home-based business, and about two weeks ago, the Clay County Code Enforcement told them to shut it down or face penalties of $250 a day.

"Monday last week we were nauseous we didn't know what to do," said McCarthy.

Code enforcement told them the area is not zoned for home-based hair salons nor barbershops, and they cannot file for a variance.

"We thought we could fight it but that's not an option," McCarthy said.

Real Estate Attorney Barry Ansbacher said McCarthy should still appeal

"And see if there are either temporary waivers or exceptions available because of the COVID if not see if there are longer-term solutions," Ansbacher explained. 

Ansbacher said the nation is still in a state of emergency and that should be considered.

The legislature is now considering Senate Bill 266, which would offer some protection to home-based businesses with some exceptions.

"We don't want to go against anything," said McCarthy. " We did this   legitimately, and we just would like an extension 60 days to recoup to open up a new salon somewhere else."

On Your Side reached out to the county manager and Howard Wannamaker said he is researching the case.