Trial set for man in battle with city
Posted: January 29, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Another trial date has been set for a man embroiled in litigation against the city.
Martin Gavis pleaded not guilty Monday in Winchester General District Court to a charge of failing to provide information to the commissioner of the revenue relating to tax assessments. Judge Amy B. Tisinger set his trial on that charge for Feb. 25.
The charge is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
Gavis, 75, lives at 414 S. Braddock St. and operates Marty’s Used Cars from his home. Two of the city’s cases against him involve his property and two involve his business, including the criminal complaint.
He also owns and operates Colonial Garage at 175 Lee Ave.
According to the complaint filed by Brenda Fristoe, Winchester’s tax field auditor, Gavis was issued an administrative summons to provide documents on June 12. He brought some of the records to a June 26 meeting but “refused to deliver remainder.”
A follow-up letter was sent on Aug. 9, according to the citation, but Gavis’s response letter did not include the requested information. Another letter seeking the information was sent Sept. 18.
Commissioner of the Revenue Ann Burkholder said court action is one of the potential steps in the process of obtaining necessary documentation. However, this is the first time she can recall in her three years as commissioner that her office has had to take a taxpayer to court for refusing to provide documents.
“Typically we’ve had a very good response from the taxpayer,” she said from Richmond in a brief phone interview. “We haven’t had to get to this level.”
Gavis also is scheduled to be in Winchester Circuit Court on Feb. 27 and 28.
On Feb. 27, he has trial dates set for two appeals of General District Court decisions in which he was fined for violating City Code. One case involves building code violations at his home, and the other relates to a bucket truck parked on his property that he has said is being used for repairs to his home.
Built in 1881, the Gavis home was damaged by a fire started by a juvenile arsonist on July 29, 1984.
Some damage from that blaze remains unrepaired. The house was included on Preservation Virginia’s 2010 list of the state’s 10 most endangered historic sites.
Gavis will be back in court on Feb. 28 regarding his appeal of a Board of Zoning Appeals decision against him in November. The city’s motion to dismiss his case will be heard that day.
The BZA unanimously agreed with the zoning director’s determination that Gavis’ business use of the property has changed. Marty’s Used Cars is approved for retail vehicle sales, but data showed that it has operated primarily as a vehicle wholesaler for at least five years.
If Gavis were to lose that case, he could have to close his home-based vehicle dealership and remove the cars he has there for sale.
— Contact Vic Bradshaw at email@example.com