7 On Your Side: Pat Dunn's lawnmower business can stay
A Montgomery County woman is in the fight of her life in trying to save the family business her father started 40 years ago.
The county has been intent on closing down Pat Dunn's Burtonsville lawnmower repair shop - not because of anything the she's done, but because the county made a zoning mistake.
Dunn can be found fixing people's lawnmowers and small tractors 16 to 18 hours a day, opening up during storms and blizzards to help customers with broken generators and snow blowers.
But Montgomery County zoning inspectors have been fighting the tough army veteran after their own bureaucratic blunder.
“You know, I can take a beating but you know, come on, if you're going to beat me, at least let me have my job,” Dunn says.
In the summer of 2009 Dunn, bought three acres to build a new repair shop.
She went to the county to get all the necessary permits and a year and a half later, in January 2011, she opened her doors. Four months later, county zoning inspector Peter Hryzak walked in and rescinded her permits, saying she was not zoned for lawnmower repair. The county had made a mistake.
“This clearly was wrong,” says Susan Scala-Demby, a zoning manager. “Whoever did this, it was wrong.”
Dunn says she spent her entire life's savings on upgrades, more permits and surveys, trying to fix the county's mistake.
Dunn, who also has a rare neurological disorder says, she'll lose everything.
“I can deal with pain. I do everyday,” Dunn says. “But I need my work."
The county says Dunn's shop is in an environmentally sensitive area. But it's right next to a huge Pepco transformer station and a four lane highway, right across from large storage facility and an Ace hardware with its own tractor and lawnmower business.
Once 7 On Your Side jumped in, county officials say they're going to continue this case for a year, work to fix their mistake and let Dunn keep her family's business open.
Dunn is due in state court tomorrow where it's expected the zoning inspector will ask for that continuance.
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