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Truck Sales Event Is Illegal

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Topics:  Bull Valley Ford

Truck Sales Event Is Illegal

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 25, 2008

Yesterday The Woodstock Advocate raised questions about the truck sales event being conducted on the property of Farm & Fleet this week-end.

In response to an inquiry this morning, the City informed me that the truck sales event is illegal, because off-premises vehicle sales are not allowed within the city limits. They can't even get a permit to conduct the sales event, because Woodstock laws do not allow such sales.

Who was it, years ago, who used to say, "What a revolting development this is!"? Most of you won't know; it's an "age" thing - before the days of computers in homes and color TV and microwaves and cell phones. Maybe even before black-and-white TV. Remember radio? And I don't mean the ones with the digital tuning. Seems like it might have been associated with the Great Gildersleeve on the Fibber McGee and Molly Show? You had to be around in the 1940s to know that name.

Bull Valley Ford apparently does have some kind of permit from the State of Illinois; perhaps it allows them to move vehicles from one sales lot to another.

Okay, so the sales event is illegal. Now what? Nothing. That's what. Well, nothing effective, that is. The City can do nothing to prevent this illegal activity, thanks to the Uniform Development Ordinance. The UDO allows the City only to issue a Warning when it determines that a business is violating a City law. Then the City must wait seven days before taking further enforcement action.

Where were the citizens when the UDO was discussed and adopted? Didn't anyone consider the possibility that businesses would spot this huge loophole and use it to conduct business illegally, knowing the City could do nothing to stop them?

The City has now issued warnings to Farm & Fleet and to Bull Valley Ford. Sort of like slap, slap - "There, how did that feel?" Oh, you didn't feel it? I guess not.

Will they pull a stunt like this in the future? Not likely, because they could be fined $75 for each vehicle. Now that could add up, since there were 75-100 vehicles there.

The truck sales event will be over late Saturday and, presumably, all the trucks will be removed from the Farm & Fleet parking lot on Saturday night. But how will they be driven on the highway? I don't imagine that Bull Valley Ford has 100 dealer plates, so how do they plan to get the trucks back to their lot on Route 47? Five-six-seven at a time? Run the old shuttle game and carry dealer plates back to Farm & Fleet for the next seven trucks? Or will the Woodstock Police Department be watching for unlicensed trucks running down U.S. 14 and up IL 47 to Bull Valley Ford? Or does the "permit" from the State allow them to run the shortest distance without plates?

I wonder how many of those trucks are owned by the dealership. Is any truck there on consignment? Have the Woodstock Police been over to run the VINs and determine whether any truck is actually owned by an individual and not the dealership? And if it is, where are its license plates? And, heaven forbid, is any truck there "hot" (unbeknownst to Bull Valley Ford, of course)? Only a VIN check will tell.

It's hard for me to imagine that a major-brand car dealership management would not know the exact laws of any community in which they operate. So, did they know it was illegal to set up shop in the Farm & Fleet lot? If they did (because car dealerships spend thousands of dollars every year in legal fees), they knew not ask the City first. When you know the answer you'll get and you don't like it, then you don't ask the question.

And when you know there will be only a slap on the wrist - - well, what's a little slap on the wrist, compared to thousands of dollars in income over a week-end?

I heard a story recently about a carnival that was setting up in Chicago many years ago. The required permit for the carnival would cost $200. The carnival owner found out that the fine for operating without a permit was $75. What did he do? You won't need three guesses for this one. He set up the carnival, was given a ticket and paid the $75 on Monday.

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