Junkyard John

Meet John Reget.

He claims that the City of La Crosse ”selectively enforced its junk-dealer ordinance against him, targeted him for rezoning in a discriminatory fashion, and selectively enforced its noise regulations.” Mr. Reget and the City, according to today’s opinion from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, “have had a long, acrimonious relationship stemming from Reget’s operation of a business that doubles as a body shop and an automobile-restoration company. The City’s junk-dealer ordinance required Reget to comply with certain building and safety-code provisions and to fence his outdoor auto storage from the view of his surrounding residential neighbors.”

The Seventh Circuit’s analysis:

We begin with Reget’s claim that the City singled him out for enforcement of the junk-dealer ordinance. That ordinance requires, among other things, that “[t]he premises of a junk dealer” be enclosed by a “proper fence.” LA CROSSE, WIS., CODE § 20.12(F). The ordinance applies to a junk dealer who stores two or more junked automobiles outside of any building for more than 30 days. Id. § 7.01(V) (Regulations for Storage of Junked Automobiles and Parts). Reget maintains that the City intentionally targeted him for enforcement of this ordinance by: (1) citing him three times between 1991 and 1994 for violating the ordinance (the specific nature of these violations is unclear); and(2) “requiring” him to fence his property in exchange for settlement of the zoning dispute. Reget has failed, however, to establish that he was treated differently than a similarly situated junk dealer.

Dear John: I’ve built a fence. It’s finally time to go our separate ways. Forever yours, the City.

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