9/06/16 Business Threats

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How many times must a business relocate because government thinks it has a better use for the property?

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Maryland business owners Thomas Stokes and Gregory Hnarakis have been repairing small engines for nearly 40 years.  In 1988 they had to relocate their shop because the property was seized through eminent domain.

Five years later, same story.

So they landed here.  First as tenants. Then as landlords when they bought the building.  The City of College Park is home to the University of Maryland.

Over the years, nearby fields were developed.  Their quiet street became a bustling thoroughfare.  About the time gentrification was in full swing, the repair shop began receiving fines.  Lots of them.

“I lost count.  I got piles of them,” [said owner Gregory Hnarakis].

Most were for petty violations.  Fines were as high as 2,000 dollars.  Some of their tenants, they claim, gave up fighting city hall and sold their businesses.  Among their five current tenants are a barbershop, an ethnic hair salon and a bartending school.

One gets the impression these minority and blue collar businesses don’t fit city officials’ vision of the community.

“I think people need to wake-up and watch what’s happening in America,” [said business partner Thomas Stokes].

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