Fairfield, IA, Council Discusses Auto Body Shop

Fairfield-IA-Four-Seasons-auto-body-shop
Photo by Andy Hallman/The Union.

The Fairfield, IA, City Council discussed a business in town during its meeting Feb. 13, which city officials have accused of violating municipal infractions.

The business is Four Seasons Auto Body, located at 700 W. Jefferson Ave. and 400 S. Seventh St. Fairfield Code Compliance Officer Weston McKee told the council the business has received three letters and several verbal notices from the city to clean up the property.

McKee said Four Seasons is required to get a letter of approval from the city each year to obtain a vehicle recyclers license from the state. He said, in light of the business not complying with the city’s requests to clean up the property, the city should only issue a permit conditionally with the right to revoke if Four Seasons is in violation of city code.

McKee said when city officials surveyed the right-of-way near the property, he had to have police and a tow truck on sight before the owner, Emer Carlson, removed items from the right-of-way. He said overflow from the junkyard has spread to 609 W. Jefferson, and has included pallets, trailers, a broken tow truck and a scrap car chained to a tree in the right-of-way.

“Four Seasons ignored the city’s requests, and continued to operate as a junkyard without a city license and state recyclers license,” McKee told the council.

McKee said the last recyclers license Four Seasons obtained expired in 2020, and it has never obtained a junkyard permit from the city, which would have included a fee of $25.

Carlson was in the audience, and told the council he has operated his business since 1998. He said he has had a recyclers license for years, and never had a problem before.

“Mr. McKee and Mr. [Aaron] Kooiker have decided to be very aggressive on this issue,” Carlson said.

Fairfield Mayor Connie Boyer directed Carlson’s attention to a letter the city sent him in April 2022 about cleaning up his property, which was before McKee was hired, when Scott Vaughan served as the city’s code compliance officer.

“I have moved 75 vehicles off that lot, and we are trying to get it cleaned up,” Carlson said. “But we’re like everyone else. The weather doesn’t cooperate with us.”

Carlson he was taken aback by McKee showing up at his property while wearing a sidearm. Fairfield City Attorney John Morrissey said such a thing was legal under state law, but Carlson said he felt it was needlessly provocative.

“I take it as a very aggressive move toward me,” Carlson said.

Boyer asked Carlson is he has a recyclers license now. He said he does not, because city officials won’t give him a letter to allow him to get one.

Boyer and the city councilors discussed how they could resolve the situation with Carlson amicably, whereby he could continue to operate his business while also removing eyesores that members of the public had complained about. They talked about having Carlson build a fence around the property to hide the vehicles, and he was open to that.

Council member Doug Flournoy said he would be satisfied if Carlson could have the fence up by May, and to have him report back to the council after that.

We thank the Southeast Iowa Union for reprint permission.

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