MACOMB — Planning commissioners on Wednesday discussed a possible special use permit which would allow for automobile repair on a parcel of land in use by Dad’s Garage, owned by Mark Lovell at 539 N. Lafayette St.
Community Development Coordinator Ray Heitner said “some of the automobile repair that he (Lovell) was conducting there on the site was not compliant with the B-2 business zone ordinance. Zoning code kind of makes a distinction between automotive service and automotive repair.”
Heitner’s principal concern was automotive repair was occuring in a general business zone, and there was a need to set a limit on the number of cars that were either in for repair or abandoned by their owners. The vehicles created a visual blight visible from the main road. A special use permit is required to perform automotive repairs in a B-2 general business zone.
Automotive service is permitted without a special use permit, but automotive repair is not allowed. The distinction between service and repair is that service is fuel and oil while repair is work on engines and car bodies.
Speaking in favor of the proposal to grant a special use permit, Lovell presented his case to the commission.
“I’ve been in this location since the later part of 2010, and I’ve tried to operate a fair and even garage – not everybody knows everything and everybody makes mistakes, but we try to do everything we can for our customers and do it right as best we can,” Lovell said.
“If it’s doable, if we have to, we will do what the city wants us to do. We are part of the city, but when this first started in 2016, we had a lot of customers who would just leave their cars; they didn’t even want to fix them. They’d just leave the cars, so I am stuck with disposing them, getting rid of them, trying to get a title for them.”
Lovell said that his policy on abandoned cars is to move them directly out to another property outside of town. “We’ve been working with Cale’s Towing & Recovery … Cale goes after the title himself.”
The planning commission voted to issue a special use permit application to Dad’s Garage, but with certain restrictions, which are:
•Abandoned cars would be gone within a 24 hour period.
•There would be a limit of cars to 12 in rear of the property and six in front of the property
•Most of the repair work would be done inside of the building.
•Fencing would be required only as the ordinance requires fencing to be installed.
Speaking to the Voice, Lovell said “I am very happy about the decision. It allows me to continue to operate. I have no problems at all with the restrictions.”
Lovell also said that he considers an automobile abandoned if the owner fails to communicate with in a 48 to 52 hour window. If the owner fails to communicate, their automobile will be removed by Cale’s Towing.
Dad’s Garage borders Inselhaus, 538 N. Randolph St., on the east side and rental properties on the south side. If fencing were to be installed in compliance with the code, fencing would be on the east and south bounds of the property. Shrubbery could also be used as a border.
Reach Christopher Ginn at email@example.com.