The Mathews County Board of Supervisors passed amendments to ordinances governing junk vehicles and litter control on a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, with supervisor Neena Putt dissenting.
Supervisors’ chair Janine Burns said that the board met with the county attorney last Wednesday to discuss the proposed changes, which give county staff the authority to handle violations of the ordinances administratively rather than through court action. When handled through the courts, she said, criminal charges are involved and the property owner is subject to fines. In addition, the county has to pay the county attorney $250 an hour for litigation.
In a report on the matter, county administrator Mindy Moran explained that if the resident didn’t comply with a court order, he or she could be sent to jail, with the property maintenance issue left unresolved. Most property owners take care of any problems when approached by the county, she said, but the amendments allow the county to have a property cleaned up and recover the expenditure through a tax lien, without resorting to criminal charges.
The junk vehicle ordinance prohibits parking more than one inoperable vehicle on a property for more than 60 days unless it is in a fully-enclosed building or otherwise shielded or screened from view behind a wall or dense landscaping. Form-fitted covers are no longer allowed as a device to screen a vehicle from view. Automobile dealers and salvage or scrap yards are exempt from the ordinance.
The zoning administrator has to give the property owner 30 days’ notice before having a vehicle removed. Once it has been removed, the administrator has to give another 14 days’ notice before disposing of the vehicle.