Councilman pushing plan to stop new auto-related businesses in Southwest Philly

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 A technician works on a car at a Pep Boys Auto retail and service location, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

A technician works on a car at a Pep Boys Auto retail and service location, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

A measure to regulate the number of automobile-related businesses in Southwest Philadelphia has stalled in Philadelphia City Council.

The bill would prevent anything from an automobile rental business to a body shop from going into Southwest Philadelphia without a zoning variance. Things have gotten out of hand in her neighborhood, said Tracey Gordon of the Southwest Concerned Citizens, with auto repair shops springing up virtually overnight.

“They are taking garages on a corner of a residential block and opening up an auto repair shop,” said Gordon, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood. “One block, the whole block, they have abandoned cars where they are taking parts and salvaging. We got loads of tires going into the creek.”

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who proposed the bill, said the repair shops are destroying neighborhoods and need to be stopped. He conceded, however, that some major chains should be given permission to develop in his district.

“It really just requires you to get a variance and go before the community, whether you be R & S Strauss or the neighborhood Pep Boys,” Johnson said. “Still, if you are in a residential community or you are operating one of these types of business, most professional business take care of their outside property.”

A compromise is in the works to move the bill forward.

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