By Patsy Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – A former snow-cone businesswoman will get her day in federal court, an appeals court agreed Monday.
In 2009, the Aberdeen Planning and Zoning Board granted Debra Bowlby permission to operate a snow-cone hut at Highway 45 and Meridian Street.
Two months later, her permits were revoked without Bowlby receiving any notice about the decision.
The board claimed she misled them about the location, that it posed a safety concern, the portable toilet next door was a health hazard and other reasons.
Bowlby took her appeal to federal court instead of going to the town’s board of aldermen, as its zoning ordinance requires.
Her case was dismissed in the U.S. District Court of Northern District of Mississippi, which ruled she should have gone to the board first.
A Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel reversed the district court decision, saying that “once issued, a license or permit cannot be taken away by the state without due process,” in this case a hearing.
The COA also said Bowlby did not have to follow the Aberdeen appeal process before she took her suit to federal court.
Bowlby also claimed that because she is white, she was treated differently from a black business owner.
The court said not enough facts were presented to rule on that claim, only giving “labels and conclusions.”
The reversal send the case back to district court.
Bowlby was represented by Jim Waide and Shane McLaughlin law firms in Tupelo.