Tuesday, October 4, 2022

County looks to fortify regulations on inoperable vehicle enforcement

(WYDaily/ Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily/ Courtesy of Pixabay)

Action taken by the General Assembly earlier this year has allowed James City County to re-examine and reinforce their enforcement of inoperable vehicles on properties.

The county’s Planning Commission’s Policy Committee last week examined proposed zoning ordinance amendments that would help zoning officials better-enforce inoperable vehicle regulations for vehicles in plain view on properties.

The change would add agricultural properties less than two acres to the zoning areas where inoperable vehicle regulations can be enforced, as well as adjust the criteria for what qualifies a vehicle as “inoperable,” said Christy Parrish, county zoning administrator.

Parrish said the changes were prompted by multiple resident complaints about yards with vehicles sitting around.

As it stands, the county’s regulations currently allow zoning officials to restrict inoperable vehicles only in residential and commercial districts. Vehicles in those areas are considered inoperable if they are missing both valid license plate decals and an inspection sticker.

As-discussed thus far, the zoning regulation changes would allow a vehicle to be defined as inoperable if it is missing either an inspection sticker or license plate decals — it would not need to be missing both.

The other change would allow enforcement for agricultural lots that are two acres or less in size.

“In our county, agricultural areas aren’t necessarily farms, it also includes subdivisions,” Parrish said. 

Regardless of the proposed changes, vehicles in those areas that do not have license plate decals and inspection stickers are in compliance if they are covered or concealed, Parrish said. Covers can include tarps or car covers. Vehicles can also be concealed behind fences or in garages or storage areas — as long as the inoperable vehicle is not visible and uncovered within view from adjacent properties or the road.

“If they’re shielded and you can’t see them from the adjacent property of the right-away, that’s fine,” she said.

Only one inoperable vehicle can sit in plain view at the front of a property, Parrish added.

Vehicles with antique or farm vehicle license plates cannot be considered inoperable because their license plates and inspection sticker requirements are different, she said.

Changing the regulations in James City County first required action by the General Assembly. 

On March 18, the General Assembly voted to give James City County additional “planning” power so it could change regulations for inoperable vehicles on properties less than two acres in size.

The county was unable to further fortify its regulations until the state adjusted Chapter 779 of the Acts of Assembly of 1993, which provided a charter for James City County.

County staff are working to draft the new ordinance amendment now, and will present the draft to the Policy Committee for approval. The Planning Commission will vote whether to recommend approval after that, then the amendment will head to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Parrish expects the process could take at least a few more months before anything is officially approved.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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