Silvis wants to scrap used car lots for new retail downtown

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SILVIS, Illinois -

On a sunny day in Silvis, Rick Nino is inspecting his fleet of used cars.

"It's a '96, but it's in good shape," he said.

Shiny cars that really look like new in the sunlight.

"They don't want business," he continued.  "That's the message I get."

Longtime dealer Nino seems to be getting a lemon from his city.

"Hey, what are you guys trying to do?" he questioned.  "Run us out of business?  You want me to go on welfare or what?"

This "City of Progress" wants urban renewal to attract more downtown retail.

But that could backfire.

"I feel terrible," Nino said.  "How come they want to get rid of business?"

Silvis wants to cut back on used car lots along 1st Avenue.

The plan is to cut them back, from nine to five, through attrition.

But that could have surprise consequences.

The Silvis proposal would allow existing dealerships to stay open.

But Nino, 67, wouldn't be able to transfer ownership.

"They say you can't transfer," he said.  "Once you don't get that license, you're out."

That would stall plans to pass this family business to son, Ricky, 30.

"What are you going to do for a living?" Rick asked.

"I don't know," Ricky responded.

Ricky Nino grew up working side-by-side with his dad in Silvis.

"This has been the main thing we've had in our family," he said.  "Our whole family relies upon this business."

A business that could face the scrap pile.

Silvis Mayor Tom Conrad say Nino would need to plead his case before the City Council, but would likely be turned down.

"I really hope they're thinking about the little guy," Ricky continued.  "Not just the bigger guys in town."

"They do a lot of work for people and help people," added Billy Davis, Silvis.  "Just ain't right."

"If you don't have the big bucks, you'll be gone," Rick said.

Not without a fight, though.

These guys plan to make some noise at the Silvis City Council meeting on May 17.

"Just trying to serve the community," Rick concluded.  "People need used cars."

"It's the little guys that have been here longer," Ricky added.  "I think that we deserve to have our place, too."

For the Ninos, their place in the sun to sell cars in Silvis.