After more than two decades at the same location, the western Henrico auto repair shop owner of Regency Tire & Auto is trying to save his business, but he's running on fumes.
The county says the shop is violating zoning rules.
The shop owner says he thought he asked the right questions, and made the right calls but the county disagrees.
When you've repaired cars for four decades, people like Ronnie Jeter get to know families.
"I'm working on as many as three generations of families," he said.
Rich Verdillo has been a customer for almost 20 years.
"He's an icon to us around here," says Verdillo.
But business is stalling for this well-liked shop because the county found it's in violation of certain zoning rules. Jeter's original zoning permit was for the sale of gasoline, but stopped selling gasoline five years ago and focused on repairing cars. Jeter says he notified the county.
"They have it on record that I called and stuff but they said it was only good for two years," he said. "Well, I was not informed of that. If I had been, I may have made a different position. It pretty much comes down to its an eyesore pretty much."
The county says there were complaints about the condition of the shop, but Jeter says they've cleaned it up. Other violations include the size of the business and permits that didn't transfer over when the property changed owners. Jeter rents the lot. County leaders say even the property owner wasn't aware until now that the shop was violating some zoning rules.
NBC12 reached out to board supervisor Pat O'Bannon who says she does not want the shop to close, but there can't be exceptions when it comes to zone violations.
This is the statement:
The county staff has been working on this case since last October. The county has moved slowly and has worked with both the owner of the property and the renter, Mr. Jeter, to try to resolve the concerns. Actually, the notice of violation has not yet been issued.
Several county staff members from different departments met with the owner and his attorney on Wednesday, just as I said we would at the Board meeting. There has been progress with both the owner of the property and the renter, Mr. Jeter, in addressing some of the concerns from the neighbors. There have been some issues that would have come forward, even if the county had not looked into the complaints from the residents. I am very hopeful that both the renter and the owner will find ways to address issues, to the benefit of both.
I know both the owner and the renter have made agreements in good faith, but this case might be a lesson for any business who wants to rent a piece of property. The caution to any business owner would be: Always first check with the county planning department to see if the site is zoned for your hours, your business, your possible need for future expansion.
One option for Jeter is to move to a location more than ten miles away. He says it's on Brook Road.
"Well my customers are here they're not going to travel to Brook Road to come see me," he fears.
But some customers say they'll stick by their neighborhood mechanic.
"It's just going to mean it's going to take me longer to get to him because I'm not going to give him up," says
Jeter tells NBC12 while he knows there have been a few complaints he there are more than 500 signatures from people who want him to stay right here.
The county promises it will continue to work with Jeter and the property owner to resolve this.
No notice of violation has been issued.
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