Horry County autobody shop to shut down amid search for new location

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 11:16 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The clock is ticking for an Horry County business owner to pack up and shut down after the Horry County council deferred a rezoning request for a business operating out of a backyard.

Sylvester Avant has owned and operated Avant Auto Repair in the backyard of his family home since 2007 and late last year after complaints, and questions about zoning compliance, issues with the business arose.

“When I went up there to get my business license, they put me under a mobile mechanic business and it was supposed to be stationary as well,” said Avant.

According to county zoning, the area the business is in is residential only, and Avant’s rezoning request to include his business did not go well.

During a county council meeting in January, Avant was given about 5 months to obtain a new location and move the existing vehicles out of the backyard, which has been challenging.

“A lot of places are for rent but are not under my zone compliance for my businesses as far as mobile, stationary, and towing. A lot of places are not in the right zoning for that, so it’s hard to find places to rent to get that approved,” said Avant.

Late Monday night, Councilman Tom Anderson reached out to WMBF News’ request for comment.

“I’ve tried to help find somewhere. I spoken to numerous realtors and spoken to Mr. Avant,” said Anderson.

Anderson said he inherited the issue when he took the seat in January and says since then he has tried to help Avant with alternatives.

“What a nice guy and, I’m doing the best I can to help him. I’m hoping for a good outcome,” said Anderson.

Angela Younts owns Dick’s Recovery Towing Service and had known Avant for over a decade.

“I’m trying to help him in every way. It’s very disappointing because he does a huge amount for the community and we’ve worked together hand in hand with the towing and mechanical,” said Younts.

Younts said on June 10, she along with her crew will be at Avant’s to help move around thirty vehicles out.

“It really bothers me that someone who does so much for the community is going through what he is going through,” said Younts.

Avant’s business license expired on April 30 and he said the county would not renew it.

“They told me I would not be renewed because they do not issue business licenses for home-based businesses anymore,” said Avant.

The county Treasury Department issues business licenses according to the Horry County Public Information Officer. No one was available for comment after hours of operation Monday.

For now, Avant is hopeful he will be able to maintain his business in a new location soon.

I’m just trying to save as much money as I can for a down payment on a property so I can continue to help my community,” said Avant.