And that has caused some problems: As the business has grown, there have been complaints from people who live nearby, including the Hillwood-Tall Oaks community, about noise and excess cars all over the property.
The issue appears to have been resolved. As part of a special exception approved by the county recently, Hillbrook Automotive is allowed to retain its four service bays and will be able to have parking spaces closer than 10 feet from a public road, says Inda Stagg, a senior land planner with Walsh Coluci, an Arlington-based law firm specializing in commercial real estate.
The agreement with the county also calls for Mr. Choi to install a fence in the back of his property to shield it from the residential area and limit parking to 17 designated parking spaces. According to Stagg, he needs to comply with these requirements by December.
“He is very popular. That is why there are so many vehicles,” Stagg says. “He has to change his customers’ habits” and get them understand that they can no long drop off their cars outside the parking spaces. “That is his biggest challenge,” she says.
“There is a lot of support for Mr. Choi,” Stagg says. “He is very well liked.” [Check out the glowing reviews on Yelp.]
He isn’t trying to skirt the law, she notes. He is just one of many immigrants who have settled here “and are so busy trying to get ahead, start a business, and follow the American dream” that they haven’t realized that “we have different business practices,” Stagg says. “There are all these rules and regulations here that people don’t know about.”
According to Stagg, there has been a service station in that spot, at the Little River and Old Columbia Road intersection, since 1959.