A Buckhead antique shop owner was fined $750 Oct. 26 by the Atlanta Solicitor’s Office for not having a business license and has been criticized for causing problems in his shopping center.
Don “Moose” Lewis, who owns Weathered on Roswell Road, has courted controversy by feeding pigeons, which started getting electrocuted and blowing out transformers.
“I had a business license, then changed the name so technically I didn’t have it,” Lewis said, adding the business had been called Cobwebs and Curios. He said he changed the name to Weathered “a few months ago.”
Lewis said he has been feeding pigeons ever since his store opened 21 years ago.
Georgia Power spokesman Mark Williams said there were two outages affecting four or five surrounding businesses.
“It was caused by a great abundance of birds on the transformers,” Williams said. “Electricity was going through the birds and shortening out the transformers.”
When asked about the birds, Lewis said, “I like pigeons. I am an animal lover.”
He said he and his attorney, Preston Haliburton, are going to bring a lawsuit against Georgia Power soon.
“They decided they’d save money and replace the wooden electricity polls [in front of the store] with new concrete ones about a year and half ago,” Lewis said.
Williams said once Georgia Power figured out the pigeons were causing the problem, it put “wildlife protective” plastic covers on the transformers.
Lewis said he thinks a nearby business owner is related to someone in the solicitor’s office and is the reason why he is being investigated closely but City Solicitor Raines Carter said he has no knowledge of it.
When asked to be interviewed by a reporter, all of Lewis’ surrounding business owners said they would rather remain anonymous to stay out of the situation, but said Lewis has been a problem.
One said dead pigeons were falling off the electric lines and onto her customers’ cars, and Lewis was collecting them in his shirt. Also, pigeons’ feces were dropping on customers’ cars.
“Four people from the Solicitor’s Office came and talked to every shop owner. … They said I am being investigated for my ‘business practices,’ Lewis said. “I’m like, ‘What? Are you ganging up on me?’”
Aside from the pigeons, there have been complaints about Lewis doing things like putting his merchandise in the parking lot and towing the vehicles of customers’ shopping in other stores.
“Bottom line is I can be a real pain. There’s a lot of things I can do within the First Amendment to really aggravate you if that’s what I want to do. If they continue, we’re going to do everything we can [with]in letter of the law to turn the tables,” Lewis said.
Carter said his office was there to investigate violations of Atlanta’s sanitation code.
“It all started with him basically putting food in the parking spaces, so as to reserve parking spaces for his business. Of course, this drew pigeons. The pigeons would poop on people’s cars,” Carter said. … “The reason they kept going back out is, they’d tell him to stop, and he’d just escalate the situation. … The head of my code enforcement [department], Erica Smith, received five complaints about the property.”
Carter said his office was just following regular procedure, and answering citizens’ complaints as always.
Lewis said, “I want people who have harassed me to answer to why they did it and on what probable cause, and if they overstepped their job description. I want them fired. I want them gone. ... This is a big screw-up, using your office to intimidate, harass and do someone a favor.”
Carter said he finds the situation “weird.”
“I don’t know what this business is about us harassing him. This is just what we normally do with anybody in the city,” he said. “We’re certainly not going to restrain enforcement of the law. We still have to go out. We don’t have anything to hide.”