PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Ed Wheeler has owned "Ed's Small Engine Shop" for more than a decade. In his shop, he repairs lawn mowers and small motors. During the daytime, the lawn mowers that get dropped off sit outside the storage bay.
"Everything goes inside at closing time, nothing is left out here at night," said Wheeler.
Those items he repairs, which are the very ones that keep him in business, now could land him a daily fine, according to a recent Port St. Lucie city code enforcement sweep that looked at more than 300 businesses.
"Bicycles, lawn mowers here, we got them parked in front of the bay, are classified as outside storage," said Wheeler. "We're not out to cosmetically impress anybody. We're just trying to make a living."
Code enforcement officers say any outside storage, even during business hours, violates city standards. Wheeler said those rules are thirteen years old, and were meant for something else.
"The rules are there to keep trash and litter from being tossed around," he explained. "It's not trash or litter."
Wheeler said some business owners, who showed up wearing white shirts to support his message to the city council, told him they are considering moving their businesses to a different city.
If a business violates parking or storage standards, they could rack up $25 a day fines.
"It's all small business," said Wheeler. "Some of them could be out of business if they don't change this ruling for outside storage."
During the city council meeting, City Manager Greg Oravec responded to the small business owners' concerns, by saying he hopes they can find a resolution, because small business success is also the city's success.