Darlington NAACP asks council to change ordinance to help car mechanics

A fire caused extensive damage to Joe's Garage on Main Street back in March.

The Darlington Branch of the NAACP asked Darlington City Council members to amend an ordinance that it says is hurting auto body shops in the city.

Section 4-16 of a city ordinance says general auto and other motor vehicle repair operations shall be conducted within fully enclosed buildings.

It goes on to say there shall be no open storage of junked vehicles, dismantled parts, scrap parts or other salvage material other than outdoor storage of not more than 10 disabled vehicles with current license plates and servicing shall be conducted in an area that can be cleaned.

The city began enforcing the ordinance after a fire at Joe's Garage on Main Street back in March.

Since then, city code inspectors have been placing fines on garage owners who have more than 10 cars on their property and violating other sections of the ordinance.

NAACP officials say the ordinance doesn't take into account how car mechanics make their money.

"That absolutely is wrong for them to do that because you can't make a living if you know have cars to work on. You can't work on a car outside, so you got to have an enclosed area for you to work on. That's absurd you know, if you need a battery changed, you don't have to go inside the building to change a battery," said Sylvester Hudson, Darlington Branch of NAACP.

City officials say Codes Enforcement has notified auto repair shops in town of this same issue, delivering copies of this section of the ordinance to them, and at least two of those shops have started to clean up their properties by removing excess vehicles. City council placed the fines levied against Joe's Garage on hold for the time being.

Council has asked city planners to take another look at the ordinance.

If they make any changes, the ordinance has to go through two readings and a public hearing.