Used car wars heating up within Seaford limits

By Lynn R. Parks

Scott Perdue, owner of Scott's Car Care on Stein Highway, is not happy with the city's recent decision to deny him a license to sell used cars. He appeared before the city's Board of Adjustment and Appeals June 1 to ask for an exception to the city's ordinance banning used-car lots. "And the city shut me down," he said. "I can't understand it." Perdue, 36, has had his business for 10 years. He moved it from Sussex Avenue, across from the Invista nylon plant, to Stein Highway, at the former site of the BP gasoline station, in August. Since he opened his garage on Sussex Avenue, he has wanted to be able to sell used cars. "But I knew there was an ordinance against it, and I never questioned it," he said. But then, the new occupants of the former Diamond State Transmissions building on Front Street were allowed to establish a used-car lot. Brian Willey, who is leasing the building from Fred Foxwell as a site for detailing cars and doing minor car repair, was granted an exception to the city ban on used-car lots at the Feb. 2 meeting of the city's Board of Adjustment and Appeals. "They will not allow me to have a used-car lot in the city, but they just gave a new business permission to sell used cars in the city," Perdue said. "I was really shocked. It seems to me that they don't want me here." According to the minutes of the Feb. 2 Board of Adjustment and Appeals meeting, the board agreed to Willey's request by a 2 to 1 vote; Mayor Dan Short and city soliciter James Fuqua voted for the variance and city manager Dolores Slatcher voted against it. The variance came with several stipulations. It will be reviewed in 12 months and the property is "to be maintained and kept clean."
In addition, Willey is limited to seven cars on the lot, all of which have to be locked up behind the building at night. Perdue said that he has room for 60 to 70 cars on his lot. But, Perdue added, with his current business he has dozens of cars sitting on the lot. "Thirty cars for sale, or 30 cars waiting to be repaired or picked up what's the difference?" he said. Mayor Short, who voted to approve the variance request by Willey and to deny the Perdue request, had no comment on the decisions. "I stand by the decisions that were made at that particular time," he said. City manager Slatcher, who voted against both requests for a variance, said that the city code banning used-car lots was written for a purpose. "It's a visual thing," she said. "Used-car lots usually end up with a lot of older cars, and sometimes you have cars that don't even run. Not all, but some don't have a good appearance." Perdue said that his used cars were going to be limited to 1995 and newer models. "They were not going to be junk cars, but good cars," he said. Perdue has the right to appeal the board's decision to the city council. He said that he has not decided whether he will do that. He added that he is looking for another site for his business, outside of the city limits, where he can sell used cars. "When I came to this corner, it had been vacant for a year, and now it is a thriving, active corner," he said. "It will be a shame to leave it."

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