Man gives away hundreds of Christmas trees he planned to sell - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Man gives away hundreds of Christmas trees he planned to sell

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The lot's owner said he was told by the City of Huntsville that he didn't have a proper license to sell Christmas trees. The lot's owner said he was told by the City of Huntsville that he didn't have a proper license to sell Christmas trees.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A 25 year Christmas tree salesman is out tens of thousands of dollars this year because he didn't have a correct business license. The Huntsville Zoning Department shut down his tree business last week. It was set up in the Village of Providence.  

Owner Greg Shell says he set up shop the day after Thanksgiving. Before that, he got permission from the Village of Providence and a business license from Madison County.

Shell said he wasn't told by anyone that he also needed a business license from the City of Huntsville with an amendment to allow the sale of Christmas trees.

Shell said the city zoning commission told him he was not allowed to operate there and must shut down immediately.

"You know, it's going to hit us hard," said Shell. "It is not going to be much of a Christmas for us because of the expense. We had hoped to sell enough trees here to break even this first year here."

He stopped selling the trees, but for the sake of turning a bad situation into a good one, Shell began giving hundreds of his trees away for free Wednesday.

Shell asked those who want to donate to write a check to his church youth group, New Bethel Baptist Church, Youth.

A lot of people picking up a free tree wanted to know why the city wouldn't help him acquire a license instead of shutting him down. Huntsville Zoning Enforcement Coordinator Jim McGuffey said he has to be fair to everyone.

"My job is to enforce the rules, and the rules are there for a reason," said McGuffey. "We have other Christmas trees in Huntsville for sale and the other operations have gone about the right way and gone through the process to get where they are. So I can't selectively use rules on certain people and not on other people."

Shell was hugged and thanked by many people who couldn't have otherwise afforded a Christmas tree this year. He said in a way, this was a blessing in disguise.

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