Darlington City leaders amended its code book following a News13 Investigation into auto shops that stored more than ten vehicles, which used to be a violation.
Last March, a fire destroyed Joe’s Auto Repair Shop, which still sits scorched today. On top of that, the city slapped shop owner James Joe with a fine, because more than thirty cars sat in its lot- more than three times the legal limit. That prompted a News13 Investigation, which found a handful of other shops in the city violating the same code, like Willie Benjamin, owner of Benjamin Auto Repair. He says the limit hurt his business.
“A lot of times, you have cars that are sitting around, waiting to be repaired,” Benjamin says.
Now, after much debate, the city changed the ordinance to eliminate its ten-car limit.
“I think that’s great. No limit is great,” he says.
But there are some things about the new ordinance he says are not so great, like one part that says “vehicle repair operations shall be conducted within fully enclosed buildings.”
“If a quick job come in, what you got to do, push that on the side while you waiting on parts for the one that’s in the shop?” Benjamin asks. “That wouldn’t be no good.”
Another part of the new ordinance says “any vehicle…shall be parked or stored within an enclosed building or parked within an enclosed area that cannot be viewed from the street.”
“I disagree with that because some places don’t have a place to put a fence,” Benjamin says, adding he’d only be able to store four cars if he built a fence.
But Darlington City Planning Director Lisa Chalian-Rock says the changes will improve safety and the city’s appearance.
“Their goal is to have them have their businesses but also make it pleasant for those riding by,” she says.
Businesses have until October 31, 2015 to make the changes.