by: Jim Strickland Updated:
PEACHTREE CORNERS, Ga. - Consumer investigator Jim Strickland has learned dozens of new business owners will have to wait weeks before they can open.
The new Gwinnett County city of Peachtree Corners is the site of a controversial freeze on new business licenses.
"I should have between 50 and 60 kids children a week here," said Sheri Snyder.
"And well, we're empty."
A summer art camp was supposed to bring in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for Snyder's new Objet D'Art Gallery and Studio.
"These are pottery equipment. I have stained glass equipment and glass," she said as she toured a storage area with Strickland.
Snyder said she quit her job and cashed in her 401K and sunk everything into a business that's one month late in opening.
"I don't know what will happen if I can't come up with the money to continue," she said.
Snyder said she waited for hours to apply for a business license in Gwinnett County on April 30 and decided to come back the next day.
May 1 was the start of a two-month license freeze until the city officially begins business July 1. Officials said even the clerks didn't know it was coming.
"When you put a moratorium on, you don't tell anybody you're about to do that," explained city attorney Bill Riley.
Riley said the surprise moratorium is designed to keep undesirables out of a new city. He was also the attorney for Johns Creek, which had no such freeze when an adult emporium came calling at the deadline. It led to a three-year court battle.
"With the Love Shack, (we) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to close that illegal business," Riley said.
Snyder and 48 other business owners are waiting for the moratorium to lift July 1. He said permits will likely come in late July.
But Snyder fears by then, any kids that want summer art programs will have signed up elsewhere.
"The worst case scenario is if this goes on much longer, I'll be bankrupt before I even open my doors," she said.
The city attorney's office said 10 business owners were far enough along to go ahead with licensing. For the rest, Riley said they're doing what they can to minimize the impact.
Snyder and others plan to complain at the new city's next council meeting.