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Webster Groves auto repair shop fails to get city council support to stay open

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WEBSTER GROVES, MO (KTVI) – Supporters of a Webster Groves auto body and detailing shop were dealt a setback during Tuesday’s city council meeting.  The city recommended council members reject a request for a zoning change.

The request was made because of a nearly 20-year-old deal that’s set to expire.  The deal was made to allow Auto Beauty Specialists to perform auto body work.  The city’s plan commission recently voted 4-3 to support a zoning change so the business can continue to operate.

An attorney representing the owner says she’s hopeful the city can find a way to allow her client’s business to remain at 216 W. Lockwood.

“My client would like to stay in Webster Groves, and continue to operate the business that he and his family have operated here for the last half century,” said Traci Pupillo.

The owner says he’s heard nothing but support from people who believe his business should be allowed to continue to operate.

“People come in every day and say they don’t even know what it is that we do there and think maybe we sell cars because of our showroom,” said John Garber, owner of Auto Beauty Specialists.  “It’s a great fit in the area.”

One man living behind the business says there are times when odors force his family indoors.

“We’ve lived for more than 20 years waiting for the day when this would end,” said Christian Wessling.

Some residents feel Webster Groves should be more accommodating to a successful, tax generating business.  Pupillo estimates her client pays nearly $100,000 in annual taxes.

“They’re a thriving business so you don’t have the empty storefront,” said Pupillo.  “You have a business that is well established and operated successfully.

Tom Sepe lives in Webster Groves and says he frequents the area.  He has concerns because the zoning change would allow any future owner to perform auto body work as well.

Pupillo says the city has expressed an interest in keeping the business in Webster Groves, and has suggested other locations.  She says none of those locations fits the businesses’ needs.

If the city rejects the zoning request, Pupillo hopes another agreement could be reached, extending the end of the year deadline.​