DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Leaders in one south Louisiana city said tougher guidelines have been put in place for some businesses in an effort to clean up its image and the latest round of changes target used car lots.
After hearing complaints, the Denham Springs City Council decided to take action.
"The used car lots have flown under the radar," said Councilwoman Annie Fugler.
A man who runs Expert Auto Sales on Florida Boulevard in Denham Springs said the city had him take down the flags he used to advertise his business six months ago. He believes the new rules the council has adopted are meant to run certain used car shops off. Fugler disagreed and said the changes are meant to protect the city, the business and the customer.
Fugler said some of the used car lots don't enough parking for customers. She added people stop their cars in the right-of-way to check out what's for sale, which is dangerous and illegal, especially when it happens at one of the used car lots on Florida Boulevard.
That's not the only issue. Fugler said many of the used car lots are overcrowded with inventory and officials want things cleaned up.
"It's no secret that Florida Boulevard through Denham Springs could use some enhancement. This is a step in that direction," Fugler explained.
She said the council has heard complaints for years from residents and other business owners who've had to adhere to certain guidelines. They said the exception has always been the used car lots, which were held to lesser standards. Those allegedly lax laws have led to numerous complaints, like mechanics selling off old clunkers.
"They fix them and then people can't pay for them, and they (the mechanic/auto body repair) end up having them for sale on their lots. That is not a used car dealership and so, we have put in definitions as to what a dealership is," Fugler said.
Under the new zoning regulations, an automobile dealer is any person who brokers, deals or engages in the purchase, sale, lease or exchange of five or more used automobiles in a 12-month period or four used cars at any point in time.
"We're not trying to run anybody off," Fugler said.
What they are doing, she said, is making sure used car lots are held to more stringent standards.
All six used car lots in Denham Springs have until July 1, 2014 to become compliant. Any new used car lots that open will have to follow the new rules immediately.