The new owner, Moore Real Estate Holdings LLC, claims the property’s use as a junkyard was never discontinued and the site only was cleared out to prepare for its sale.
The Valley Street property became a salvage yard in the 1970s, and Mahaffey’s Auto Salvage was the main user and occupant of the site until 2011, when the company was dissolved by court order, according to city staff.
Google Earth aerial images of the site suggest it was full of vehicles until about 2016, but those were cleared out and city inspectors saw no evidence of commercial activities or storage on the site after that time, Daugherty said.
The property was sold in 2017 and then resold in April 2021, when it was bought by Moore Real Estate Holdings, real estate records show.
The property is in a zoning district that does not permit junkyards, and the property lost its nonconforming status as a salvage yard by rule when that use was discontinued for more than 183 days, city staff and officials said.
The property also has not had a city junk or salvage yard license in a long time, Daugherty said, and it also failed to maintain a state license.
But Gerald McDonald, an attorney representing the owner, said the property may not have had the proper license, but it never stopped being a junkyard and it was sold and purchased as one.
He said the property continued to meet the city’s definition of a junkyard because it was used to store, dump, sell, exchange, dismantle and crush junk.
“It doesn’t have to have a bunch of vehicles to be a junkyard under this definition,” he said, adding the previous owner signed an affidavit saying his company used it as a salvage yard. “A junkyard can have 100 cars in it or it can have one car in it — it can have a junk refrigerator in it.”
But the Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously voted to uphold the city zoning administrator’s decision to disallow its use as a junkyard.
The lawful use as a junkyard seemingly ended in 2011 when Mahaffey’s went out of business, said board member Patrick Martin.
“Now there’s still cars there ― I’ll buy that — but it lost its status because it stopped being an operating business,” he said.
Other board members said they lack of proper licenses also suggests the nonconforming use lapsed, especially since that seems to mean there were no ongoing legitimate business operations.