Savannah Hopper shuttle debate to be decided in court - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah Hopper shuttle debate to be decided in court

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Call it the worst Christmas gift ever.

A Savannah Hopper shuttle driver wasticketed for driving one of the company's motorized carts on Bay StreetChristmas Eve.

Since then, Savannah Hopper has notbeen running their shuttle service.

The city gave them a license tooperate in late 2012, and now they want a judge to give them an oral cease anddesist.

Of all the designated stops on theBrewer's shuttle service, the Chatham County Courthouse is not one of them, butfor two days they fought to keep their shuttles moving in the city of Savannah.

Lester Johnson III, Assistant CityAttorney for Savannah, openly admitted Savannah made a mistake.

"If they want an apology from us,judge, they got it, and get on the mountain tops," said Johnson, III. "We'resorry we misinterpreted it."

Charlie Brewer and his wife, Sandra,have argued all along they did everything Savannah asked of them, and were upfront that their motorized shuttles, or golf carts, could not have a tag sincethere was no VIN number on them.

Under oath, Mr. Brewer said, "Ifelt we were led into a partnership where we were meeting their requirementsunder their ordinance, the shuttle ordinance."

After several meetings with the city,they classified the Brewers' business under the city's shuttle ordinance and theBrewers followed their rules.

They provided a detailed route mapthrough Savannah, drivers had to keep logs, drivers were not allowed to cruisefor business nor pick up anyone who flagged them down for a ride and theBrewers drew up contracts with more than 200 businesses that used their shuttleand provided those contracts to the city.

On the first day of testimony, theRevenue Director for the City, Cindy Ladolt, testified that the Brewer's 2012and 2013 tax certificate was to operate a business with the dominant activitybeing electric vehicle rental.

Electric cars, also known as low speedvehicles, are classified differently than motorized carts, aka golf carts.

However, the city inspected the golfcarts themselves and assigned numbers to them.

Mr. Brewer said, "You've gotpeople, PhD's and lawyers working for the city. They understand what they'redoing."

Still, because there is no VIN numberon the cart, which means no tag on the cart, the city realized they're not streetlegal.

Johnson told the judge, "If wecontinue to let the Brewers operate, and something happens to someone, we wouldhave no argument on immunity at all."

Judge Tammy Stokes has a lot to takeunder consideration: Georgia code v. City code, so she's giving it a couple ofdays. Court resumes on March 10th. 

In the mean time, the Brewers had tolayoff 20 of their drivers in Savannah. They do operate the same type shuttle service on Tybee. 

The city there adopted an ordinancemaking the hopper service legal.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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