Crazy Wave Runners, a business operated on the beach behind the El Governor Hotel and owned by Hector Vazquez, has been granted an emergency temporary injunction from Mexico Beach’s Leave No Trace ordinance by a circuit judge.

Crazy Wave Runners, a business operated on the beach behind the El Governor Hotel and owned by Hector Vazquez, has been granted an emergency temporary injunction from Mexico Beach’s Leave No Trace ordinance by a circuit judge.

Circuit Court Judge John L. Fishel II granted the injunction after the business owner filed for relief on April 17 and, subsequently, an expedited hearing on April 28.

In his ruling, Fishel wrote that Vazquez’s case fulfils the four requirements set down in the Florida Rules for Civil Procedure for the granting of an injunction.

Fishel ruled that the Leave No Trace ordinance would cause Vazquez irreparable harm, that there is no adequate remedy available and, maybe most crucially for the city, that there is a substantial likelihood that Vazquez’s lawsuit against Mexico Beach would succeed on its merits, and that Vazquez’s business operation was in line with public interest.

According to Fishel, if the emergency injunction was not granted, Vazquez would face “continued exposure to arrest for a criminal misdemeanor offense; and continued substantial loss of income.”

The judge found the language of the ordinance lacking in particular.

“The central issue in this case is whether the ordinance, as drafted and ratified, is enforceable against Plaintiff (Vazquez) as a matter of law due to its vagueness and lack of clarity,” Fishel said.

Fishel also noted that Vazquez’s business was a benefit to the city through its entertainment value for residents as well as visitors, noting that the city was unable to prove that the beach business harmed public interest in any way.

“Surely it does not serve the public interest to restrain (Vazquez’s) business operation such that the city could be required to account for (Vazquez’s) damages after wrongfully taking or impacting constitutional rights with a vague ordinance,” Fishel said.

Fishel stated that until the passage of Leave No Trace, Vazquez had never received a complaint from the city about his business.

According to court documents, the business, which began in 2000, consists of a rental shack, approximately 70 lounge chairs, and several sheds for storage, life jackets, six jet skis, and a parasail boat.

After receiving notice from the city that his business property wasn’t in compliance with the new Leave No Trace ordinance, Vazquez sought legal counsel.

That counsel was present at the regular meeting of the city held on March 28, and notified the city of confusion having to do with the new ordinance.

A town hall meeting was scheduled for April 19, a day after the mayoral election, to allow public input into the matter.

On April 11, Vazquez was warned that the city would be enforcing the new ordinance, and early the next morning city employees, alongside the police chief, removed 38 wooden lounge chairs.

After the April 18 election, the previously scheduled April 19 town hall meeting regarding Leave No Trace was cancelled.

At an evidentiary meeting, City Administrator Mell Smigielski, testified that the town hall meeting had been cancelled by Mayor Tom Bailey “because the mayor thought it best to not take up the issue, given the short period remaining in his term.”

On April 21, the city confiscated an additional 32 lounge chairs from Vazquez’s business.

In the temporary injunction, the city was ordered to return the items confiscated from Vazquez’s business as well as cease enforcement of the ordinance against Vazquez until a final hearing.

Due to the pending litigation, City Manager Mell Smigielski declined to comment on the case.

City discussing moratorium on new beach vending businesses

At a special meeting held on Tuesday, the Mexico Beach City Council listened to a first reading of Ordinance 667.

That ordinance would place a temporary moratorium on new beach vending businesses and expanded beach businesses.

“As of late there has been a lot of scrutiny of how our regulations are written, and how we enforce our regulations,” said Mayor Tom Bailey.

The special meeting was Bailey’s last as mayor and he urged the council to go over the beach business regulations of other Bay County municipalities.

The ordinance will be read again at the first regular meeting in June.