Community Issues - Zoning process

Service Garages

Current Situation

While no Service Garage is a nice-looking place, many have gone way overboard with junked cars all around, parking on nearby residential streets, etc. Attempts at getting enforcement have generally failed due to various wordings of the BCZR.

The BCZR allows Service Garages in these sections:

  • 233.1 BM (which then extends to BR)
  • 248.1.A MLR, with a valid towing license
  • 248.2.A MLR, by Special Exception
  • 253.1.A.59 ML, "service of vehicles for people with disabilities" (Bill 97-2016)
  • 253.1.B.25 ML, service of trucks (Bill 18-2012)
  • 253.1.C.29 ML, provided combination of AS and IM (The Todd Huff/Bill Kidd "Special Bill" 22-2014)
  • 253.2.B.2 ML, by Special Exception, others not permitted by 253.1.B.25
  • 256.5.B MH, on large tract of >2500a (i.e. Trade Point Atlantic for trucks)
In addition, the following references often cause confusion, since they refer to allowing "Automotive-service Station" subject to 405, an old term which has been changed to "Fuel-service station" in other places:
  • 230.3 BL, by Special Exception
  • 253.2.B.1ML, by Special Exception
  • 256.2 MH, by Special Exception


The problem is many-fold, but, probably the worst thing is that the definition of "Garage, Service" in the BCZR, left over from 1955, is "A garage, other than a residential garage, where motor-driven vehicles are stored, equipped for operation, repaired or kept for remuneration, hire or sale". This is being used to allow unlimited storage and sales of used vehicles, even though Service Garages are allowed in zones where used-vehicle sales are not and junk yard have been banned since 1955. Since "Service Garage" applies to many different things, even a "detailing" shop, this is used to sneak a use into an un-aware community, which then has no recourse when the property turns into a used car lot, even with many junk cars.

BCZR 405a Addresses Storage of disabled vehicles at Service Garages. It again causes a problem by stating "Damaged or disabled motor vehicles may be stored on the premises of any conforming service garage or nonconforming use service garage, provided that any outdoor storage of such motor vehicles shall be subject to the following requirements:" and then gives requirements concerning paving and screening. There are no restrictions on number, condition, or length of such stored vehicles, thus, such properties usually quickly become a "junk yard" and some inspectors treat it as if service garages have an exemption to the prohibition of junk yards. I have several only a few hundred feet from my property where junked cars have been sitting for decades, and the county has refused to do anything about it. In the past, inspectors seem to have the idea that anything is legal as long as it's hidden behind a fence. Note that "junk yards" have been prohibited in these areas since 1955, and there is no "grandfathering".

Corrections needed

  • Correct the definition of "Garage, service" in 101 to eliminate the reference to "or kept for remuneration, hire, or sale". They functions are allowed or not as other uses.
  • Create a new section which simply addresses limits and prohibitions at Service Garages and ensure that every place within the BCZR that allows them refers to this new section as "in accordance with".
  • Set limits on the number of vehicles that can be sold from these properties without it being considered as a "used vehicle sales" use.
  • Set limits on the number and condition of vehicles that can be stored on these properties such as only ones with a valid work order, limit to 3 months, etc.
  • Prohibit parking of inoperable or unlicensed vehicles on nearby streets.
  • Require that new development plans have specific, required parking for employees, customer, delivery, and separate designated parking for vehicles awaiting repair.
  • Require that all parking be in accordance with any approved site plan (not on the grass, crammed in wherever possible, etc.)
  • Incorporate §405A into the new section and clarify that this allowance is limited and does not get around the prohibition of junk yards.

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Updated 20 Aug 2021 by MAP