CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Chuck's Chariots, a used car dealership and repair shop in Charlotte, is facing legal action from the city, which alleges the dealership did not act "in good faith" in accordance with its special use permit from the city.
The permit stipulates, among other things, that the business must operate as a used car dealership, not exceed 10 units for sale at any given time, and operate for at least 30 hours per week.
In court documents, the city alleges the dealership has not been "actively engaged in the selling of vehicles which are located in the lot," has not been operating for at least 30 hours per week, and over the past several years "has been closed with the doors locked for days and weeks at a time".
Thomas Hitch, attorney for the City of Charlotte, said one vehicle has been in the lot, seemingly untouched, for four years.
“I think that they noticed that cars were not being sold, but seemingly more vehicles were coming out with property… it became more of just a junk storing area for automobiles that were apparently limited utility. No one was buying them. They weren’t trying to actively sell them," Hitch said.
The city filed a complaint saying the alleged zoning violation is a "nuisance" and not an "appropriate" use of the lot.
“It was an eyesore," Hitch said. "It's just two blocks from City Hall on one of the main thoroughfares in the city.”
Charles and Jane Doty, the owners of Chuck's Chariots, filed an answer to these allegations in which they denied any wrongdoing.
The document was later stricken from the court record because neither Charles nor Jane Doty are attorneys, and therefore are not authorized under Michigan law to represent their business.
They have since obtained legal counsel.
“If you as an individual go into court and say, 'Your Honor, I have the right to represent myself,' that's perfectly permitted," Hitch explained. "But you can't come in and say, 'Hey, this is my corporation. This is my limited liability company. I'm going to represent that.'"
Their answer to the allegations claimed they were open 30 hours a week prior to the start of the pandemic, and now allow customers to make appointments.
They claimed to have sold five vehicles in 2018, three in 2019, four in 2020 and six in 2021, stating "one cannot force people to purchase cars."
The Dotys state in the document, "Due to Mr. Doty's rapidly deteriorating health, prior to this summons, we had started making arrangements to scrap the vehicles that appeared no longer worth repairing. It is our goal to clear the inventory and possibly close the business."
But Hitch said the city does not want to force the business to close.
“I don't think anyone has any intention to put these people out of business," Hitch said. "We just want them to clean up the site and actually use it for what the special use permit was intended.”
Fox 47 News reached out to the Dotys and their attorney, but they declined to comment.
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