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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council was wrangling today over the best way to deal with a growing problem: unsightly junkyards and auto repair shops that set up business in residential neighborhoods.

Tracey Jordan of Southwest Philadelphia (at left in photo) says auto shops are popping up all over that section of the city — on residential blocks.

“They’re taking, like, garages on the corner of a residential block and opening up auto repair shops,” she told the Council’s Rules Committee.  “On one block, the whole block, they have abandoned cars where they’re taking parts and salvaging, and tires everywhere.  We’ve got loads of tires going into the (Cobbs) creek.”

Jordan was testifying on a bill authored by Second District councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents that portion of the city, which would change the zoning classification of these shops and make it harder for new ones to open.

Jordan said the change is sorely needed.

“You will see tires, half cars.  On one corner of the block, you would really cry for the children in that neighborhood, what (the shops) have done.   In the middle of a residential neighborhood, you have piles and piles and piles of abandoned cars there,” she said.

Johnson’s proposal would force new auto shops and junkyards to get a zoning variance, which would allow neighborhood groups to voice opposition before the zoning board.

But some councilmembers objected that Johnson’s solution would be a citywide change of policy for what appears to be a problem in just one part of the city, and that it would affect legitimate retailers like Pep Boys or Auto Zone.

Johnson reluctantly agreed to temporarily pull the bill and hold more discussions on how to solve the problem.

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