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Judge: McGrath violating city ordinances by fixing cars

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 8:09 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 8:10 a.m. CST

Pete McGrath of Narvick Avenue has been found guilty of violating city of Morris ordinances by operating a business out of his home.

The city had three counts in its complaint against McGrath: operating a business in a residential area, creating a nuisance, and violating the city’s business license ordinance, said City Attorney Scott Belt Monday. The charges stem from McGrath working on vehicles out of his garage and driveway.

Judge Lance Peterson found McGrath guilty on all three counts Friday. Belt said McGrath’s sentencing hearing will be this Friday.

The city has asked the judge to have McGrath pay a $150 fine for each count. In addition, Belt said, the city is asking for a court order to prohibit McGrath from working on vehicles on Narvick Avenue. The court order will also be addressed at the sentencing hearing.

McGrath’s attorney, Randy Gordon, said McGrath is already working elsewhere.

At Friday’s trial, the city called six witnesses, most of whom were neighbors of McGrath. McGrath himself, plus one other witness, testified for McGrath.

“We were able to get a video into evidence, which showed McGrath using a loud pneumatic impact wrench on a truck that was up on jacks in the front of his house,” Belt said.

It is against city ordinance for a home occupation business to exist without meeting six requirements, which include “no mechanical equipment is used, except such as is customarily used for purely domestic or household purposes.”

The issue with McGrath working out of his home was brought to the city council’s attention last fall, when nine neighbors came to the council with complaints.

The neighbors said then that McGrath was disturbing their neighborhood with noise and having too many vehicles parked along their streets. They would repeatedly call the police, they said, and then they said McGrath began regularly threatening his neighbors.

McGrath told the Morris Daily Herald previously he does not take money for his work and works on the barter system. McGrath used to have an automotive shop, McGrath Auto Works & Exhaust off Gore Road, but he had to close it.

Kathy Maddox, a neighbor who has led the group in notifying the city of their issues, said Monday she is pleased with the ruling.

“But that’s just the ordinance violations. There is a whole lot more with him,” she said.

McGrath’s attorney said Monday he found the neighbors’ complaints interesting since some of them had utilized McGrath’s repair services.

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