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Swansea wants to close tow yard (MO) (from 2007)


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Swansea wants to close tow yard
By Aaron Sudholt

SWANSEA — Village officials are trying to shut down a towing company because nearby homeowners complain that it promotes vermin and reduces property values.

"Everyone would feel a whole lot better if that place just went away," Swansea Mayor Charles Gray said.

In December, village officials had backed off plans to revoke the business registration of J & K Express Towing on the condition that the site, at 2511 Caseyville Avenue, be cleaned up, the number of towed cars limited to 10 and non-working tow trucks removed from the property by June 20.

Now, new complaints from neighbors have the village again exploring ways to shut it down. Advertisement

"It's not really a place for a tow yard," Gray said. "It's off a major business street, but it butts up against a residential area."

J & K Express Towing, owned by Butch and Chris Hamann, tows cars for the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. Cars put there can remain as long as three months. The tow yard sits at the end of Caseyville Avenue facing North Belt West road and is surrounded by a chain-link fence. Vertical white dividers inside the links obscure the inside of the yard from the road.

Chris Hamann said the property looked far worse when the Hamanns began running the firm in 2001. "It was a monstrosity," she said.

The Hamanns cleaned it up on their own, then did more after the December agreement, they said.

"There's no reason for them to revoke (the business registration)," Chris Hamann said. "I don't understand why they're doing this."

Chris Hamann said she believed that political motives were at work and that other tow yards were being favored over theirs.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 11 cars on the property, 14 tow trucks and a recreation vehicle. Hamann said the number of cars would be reduced to 10 again within a few days as one was taken to a junk yard.

Non-working tow trucks remain at the site because they belong to the property owner from whom the Hamanns rent, Hamann said. That means the business has not entirely complied with the December agreement with a little more than a month before the deadline.

"The only reason I'm still in there is because Swansea won't shut up," Chris Hamann said. "I don't need that impound yard. If they don't shut up, I'm not going to move."

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