Car salesman challenges city ruling
Posted: November 20, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A judge has reopened a 1988 civil case and ordered a hearing to determine whether the ruling in that case prevents the city from halting a vehicle dealer’s operations.
Martin Gavis, representing himself and his wife, Claudette, filed a motion Thursday in Winchester Circuit Court seeking an injunction to prevent city officials “from interfering with the defendants’ rights of a car dealership” on his property at the corner of Braddock and Leicester streets.
Marty’s Used Cars lists its address as 14 W. Leicester St. It operates from the same property as the couple’s 414 S. Braddock St. home.
Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. signed an order on Friday reinstating the case. No hearing date has been set.
Gavis declined to comment on the matter. He’s been at odds with city officials for years regarding his vehicle dealership and the condition of his home.
The house, built around 1881, was severely damaged by a fire set by an arsonist in July 1984, and damage from that blaze remained readily visible in 2010. That year, Preservation Virginia included the structure on its list of the state’s 10 most endangered historic sites.
Gavis agreed in June 2010 to repair the property, estimating that it would take about a year. City officials contend that the work has not been completed.
Winchester Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) members voted 5-0 on Thursday to uphold a city official’s determination that Gavis had expanded his nonconforming auto sales use by operating it primarily as a wholesale enterprise, not a retail one. His business license is for retail sales.
That decision effectively would close the dealership unless Gavis successfully appeals the decision in court.
In the 1988 case, which wasn’t decided until 1990, Gavis lost the case regarding inoperative vehicles on his property. Judge Perry A. Sarver ruled that such vehicles were allowed on the property only if they were housed in an enclosed structure.
In his June 15, 1990, order, Sarver wrote that the defendants could not bring inoperative vehicles onto the property “except that for any vehicles on said properties held by defendants for sale.” Gavis told BZA members on Thursday that that clause covered his current operations, but they rejected the argument.
City Manager Dale Iman said City Attorney Tony Williams also disagreed with Gavis’ interpretation and said the city “is not concerned about this injunction.”
He went on to say that his vehicle dealership isn’t the only issue the city is targeting for change.
“He needs to be concerned because we’re not going to tolerate that building sitting there in that condition,” he said of the Gavis home. “It’s going to be brought into compliance unless a judge tells us otherwise.”
— Contact Vic Bradshaw at email@example.com