Group sues city over anti-rally ordinances

A group of Grand Strand business owners is suing the city of Myrtle Beach over its anti-bike rally ordinances.

BOOST, Business Owners Organized to Save Tourism, is asking the state Supreme Court to rule that two of the ordinances should not be enforced.

The group's lawsuit claims a couple of the city's anti-rally ordinances are unconstitutional.

BOOST members say they sympathize with Myrtle Beach residents who complain about the bikers' noise and bad behavior, but say the city already has laws on the books to deal with those issues.

"There are things the city can do, if they would work with the business community instead of against the business community, to lessen the impact on locals, instead of trying to chase off hundreds of millions of dollars in the middle of a recession," said BOOST member Robert Kelley.

BOOST members will spend their own money to put up billboards during May, welcoming bikers, but asking them to obey local laws and respect residents.

BOOST's lawsuit claims two of the city's anti-rally ordinances, the administrative court system and the helmet requirement, are unconstitutional.

The group's lawyer, State Representative Thad Viers, said state law is clear on what cities can and cannot do about vehicle equipment, and motorcycles are not mentioned.

"This would be the same as if the city of Myrtle Beach would come up with their own DUI law. They can't do that," Viers said.

Viers' brother was ticketed recently for violating the city's new helmet law.

Bart Viers said the ordinance is a discredit to the city's police officers, who are required to enforce a law that he says is illegal.

"I was aware of the ordinance, but as is my right, and South Carolina gives me that right, that I'm over 21 and I don't have to wear a helmet, and so I invoked my freedom to not wear a helmet," Bart Viers said.

A spokesman for the city says they can't comment on pending litigation, but pointed out that the ordinances have been challenged in court before and upheld.