To settle a 1994 lawsuit by the city against Auto Beauty, a St. Louis County Circuit Court consent agreement was issued which would prevent the company from doing auto collision repair work after Jan. 1, 2016.
At the July 6 Webster Groves City Council meeting, Traci Pupillo, an attorney representing Auto Beauty, said the firm is pursuing two paths to be able to continue collision repair work.
"In addition to trying to extend the consent judgment, we're also trying to change the zoning of the property to permanently allow Auto Beauty to operate at the site as they are now," she said.
Mara Perry, the city's director of planning and development, said the proposal must go first to the city's planning commission for a public hearing, which could happen as early as August.
Afterward, the commission's recommendation must go to the city council for a public hearing and final vote, she said.
"However, this petition is the same request as the company made in 2012," Perry noted. "It had gotten a negative recommendation from the planning commission, after which Auto Beauty asked that the proposal not go to the city council. They just dropped it."
John Garber, president of Auto Beauty, asked that all city officials involved in the current petition process "give our petition full, fair and open consideration."
He told the council that, over the past several months, many residents and others have been "urging you to help us find a path forward so that we can remain in Webster and contribute to our community's tax base and economic diversity, just as we have for nearly 50 years."Garber previously asked the city to allow the firm to continue doing body repair until his retirement in 14 to 19 years. At that time he would close the business and/or redevelop the property.
Louise Kopsky, who lives on West Cedar Avenue behind the business, told the council that Auto Beauty has had more than 20 years "to change the situation they find themselves in, but, despite the consent agreement, they're throwing themselves on the sympathy of customers and residents."
"I urge the council not to be swayed by propaganda – do your job, have (Auto Beauty) abide by the law, and have that paint booth moved," said Thomas Sepe, who lives on Edgar Road.
We would like to thank Webster-Kirkwood Times for permission to reprint this article.