The owner, Ziya Kara, said he had some evidence and witness statements that the junkyard remained in continuous operation, which he says meant it never lost its legal nonconforming status.
But zoning board members said they believe the property for years didn’t have the proper operating licenses.
“Part of its continuing use requires ... following all laws and regulations associated with the operation of the property,” said Board of Zoning Appeals Chair Patrick Martin.
The property at 1801 Valley St. started operating as a junkyard in 1971.
Mahaffey’s Auto Parts and Auto Salvage was the operator, but that company was dissolved by court order in 2011, city staff said.
The junkyard use may have continued after that, though it’s a matter of debate for how long, and Cohen Brothers acquired the property in 2017.
A company called Moore Real Estate Holdings LLC then purchased the site for $450,000 in the spring of 2021 and used it as a junkyard until it was issued a notice of violation by the zoning administrator.
The Board of Zoning Appeals in May 2022 affirmed the zoning administrator’s finding that the property was not allowed to operate as a junkyard.
Moore Real Estate appealed the board’s decision to the courts, lost that case, and then filed an appeal with the appellate courts.
The company ended up voluntarily dismissing its appeal and selling the property to Trabzon Express Inc. for $590,000 last fall. Kara owns Trabzon Express.
At the zoning board’s Sept. 26 meeting, Kara said that he believes the junkyard use never ceased.
Multiple neighboring property owners and others said they do not think the property ever stopped being used as a junkyard.
They said they bought parts or did other business there during times when city staff said the property appeared to be empty and not in use.
A large group of people attended the board of zoning appeals meeting to show their support for Kara and his request to use the property as a junkyard.
Junkyards are not permitted in that part of the city under Dayton’s current zoning law, but the property had been grandfathered in.
However, under the city’s zoning code, nonconforming legal uses expire and cannot be reestablished if operations are discontinued for 185 days or longer.
City staff and board members said photos of the site over the years and conditions at the property indicate that it was not in use for significant stretches of time.
Board member Jacqueline Patterson said anecdotal evidence suggests that the property remained in use, but city and state records indicate the property and its owners and operators did not have the proper legal licenses to operate a junkyard there.