City Officials Cite Self-Storage Facility for Hosting Illegal Flea Market in Chesapeake, VA

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Harbour View Self Storage in Chesapeake, Va., is fighting to keep its Saturday garage-sale community events going after city officials cited the facility for holding an illegal flea market. The city contends the events violate zoning laws. The storage property is zoned for light-industrial use, which does not include flea markets, according to the source.

The city first learned of the garage sales from an anonymous complaint in March. Officials investigated in May and issued a citation in June, ordering Harbour View to discontinue the events. Chesapeake’s Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously upheld the citation in August, prompting the storage facility at 3101 Bromay St. to file an appeal in Circuit Court earlier this month. Facility manager William Summs said he is also talking with the city about rezoning the property to allow the events.

"It's not about whether it is right or wrong, good or bad," said Patrick Hughes, the city’s plan review and codes administrator. "It's a violation of the zoning ordinance."

Summs believes the events are more similar to someone holding a garage sale at their house than an organized flea market. The facility does not charge tenants extra fees to sell their items, and community residents can attend for free. "I don't think this is a flea market at all," Summs said. "I'm just letting them sell their stuff.”

In some cases, tenants may need to sell their property to stay current on their unit rent, Summs said. "I'd rather they sell it and pay their bill than for me to seize it all and auction it off myself," he said. "For some of these people, they are selling the last things they have in the world."

Tenant Dee Tant said her main business is selling items on the Internet, but she uses the facility’s garage-sale events to sell household items such as clothes, shoes, purses, golf clubs and televisions. She typically makes about $20 or $30 during the events and enjoys the atmosphere, she said.

Another tenant, Sunshine Lee, said she makes about $40 selling items like books, clothes, posters, shoes and VHS tapes for $1 each.

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