Judge rules against resident in fight with city
Posted: December 8, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A city businessman’s request to reopen a 1990 injunction the city government obtained against him has been denied.
Winchester Circuit Court Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. told Martin Gavis that because the injunction regarding his used-vehicle business was granted to the city government, only the city government can have it reopened.
“It can’t be reinstated by you for me to reinterpret what it means ...,” Wetsel told Gavis, who represented himself at the nine-minute hearing. “Only the city can reopen.”
Gavis, the owner of Marty’s Used Cars at 14 W. Leicester St., had filed a motion asking the court to reopen the case because the city government was “interfering with [his] rights of a car dealership” on his property.
Gavis owns the lot at Braddock and Leicester streets and operates the business from his home.
The automobile dealership is a non-conforming use allowed to continue because Gavis established the business before selling cars on the property was prohibited by zoning regulations.
But city officials say Gavis has ceded his right to operate the dealership because it is registered as a retail lot but functioned primarily as a wholesale lot in 2011.
The city Board of Zoning Appeals upheld that determination Nov. 19.
Friday’s court proceeding dealt with a 1990 Circuit Court ruling regarding inoperable vehicles on Gavis’ property. He has said that his interpretation of part of that ruling allows him to handle vehicles as he has been at the lot.
“The reason I petitioned is because the city has been violating the court order for the last 22 years,” he told Wetsel. “It has everything to do with the rules changing ... and them trying to put my car lot out of business.”
City Attorney Tony Williams, however, argued that the 1990 injunction should not be reopened because it is not relevant. He said the city government has taken no recent actions regarding inoperable vehicles on the Gavis property.
“He’s presented no reason or basis for reinstating this case,” Williams told Wetsel. “There has been no action initiated by the city with regard to the 1990 order.”
Wetsel told Gavis that though he cannot have the order reopened, he can use it as an affirmative defense in any legal action the city government takes or can seek an injunction against the city government if he thinks he has grounds.
— Contact Vic Bradshaw email@example.com