WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) – With summer fast approaching, Chris Mangum has to prepare for more visitors who want to ride on the water, but instead he is preparing for the trial.
“I’m giving jet skis to tourists who like them,” Mangum said. “I have an 80 percent return rate and that’s why I built the business after the city basically destroyed it.”
Mangum rents jet skis and uses the boat ramp near the town’s drawbridge. The boat access is owned by the NC Wildlife Commission. 20 to 30 people rent jet skis from him every day and make thousands of dollars online.
The city of Wrightsville Beach says the business, Wrightsville Beach Jet Ski Rentals, does not meet zoning requirements set forth in the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance. When first told of the ordinance, he said, “Pursuant to NC General Statutes 160A-392, the Wrightsville Beach UDO applies to state-owned lands only when a building is constructed.
There are no buildings on the property and the ramps are government land and are open to the public for their personal use whether they are running a business or launching a boat.
Still, a judge ruled in the city’s favor about five years ago. That put Mangum on hiatus for two years before returning to work in 2020, in violation of the court order.
“Every day I work against the court’s decision. I’m not proud of that,” Mangum said. “When you’re working 9 to 5 and you know you could be going to jail the next day, it’s a little stressful.”
Attorney Josh Lanier recently filed a plea deal on Mangum’s behalf. The motion seeks to set aside the previous judgment and dismiss all legal actions against Mangum where Wrightsville Beach lacks jurisdiction. That effectively puts a stop to Mangum’s legal problems, which Lanier says should never have happened in the first place.
“this is [career] First for me,” Lanier said. There doesn’t appear to be any underlying issue or significant event that caused the city to start issuing him citations.
In the motions to dismiss and set aside the judgment, Lanier said he and Mangum are asking the city to pay Mangum’s attorney’s fees.
The city of Wrightsville Beach has until May 22 to respond to Lanier’s communications and resolve matters outside of the hearing. If they don’t, they will have to take their case before a judge.
Mangum hopes things go his way this time.
“I want to go to court,” Mangum said. “I was disappointed with the court system and I want some vindication. I mean, it’s just wrong. The whole thing is wrong.”
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