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Car Dealership Claims New Bill Would Help Competitor

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — A fight is brewing among two local car dealerships. The issue is about who gets to relocate to a prime piece of property.

Paul White's family started Universal Chevrolet on Main Street in Wendell in 1932. Now, more than 70 years later, White believes the time has come to think about moving.

"At some point, we may have to expand more than we can here on Main Street, and if so, we would want to relocate next to the entrance of town," White said.

The entrance of town is about four miles away at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and the new 64 Bypass. State law only allows a dealership to move two miles from its current location, so lawmakers passed a bill to help.

"If your area grows, your town grows, the community grows, you certainly should be able to grow with it as a business," said Wake County Rep. Rick Eddins.

House Bill 1227

allows a dealership that has been in the same spot for more than 50 years to move to another location as far as four and a half miles away.

Carlos Wheeler, who operates J & M Chevrolet in Zebulon, is not happy about that plan.

"I feel betrayed. It was very upsetting to me," Wheeler said.

Incorporated in 1927, he said J & M is Wake County's oldest dealership, but it has only been at its current location for 34 years, which means it would not be helped by the new law that he believes was tailor-made for his competitor.

"It seems unfair to me. I did not think that our legislation could work in this manner," Wheeler said.

It is too late for the law to be changed. Lawmakers gave it final approval last week. The bill now sits on Gov. Mike Easley's desk awaiting his signature. J & M Chevrolet will lobby him to veto it.


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