Victoria to start ticketing for trash, inoperative vehicles

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Victoria has announced on its webpage that beginning July 1,  police will begin ticketing for accumulated trash or refuse, and inoperative vehicles.

Regulations allowing the ticketing are already on the books.

Interim Town Manager Rodney Newton said trying to keep the town clean and safe has always been a priority, and the ordinances have been in place for many years but sometimes get overlooked or misunderstood as residents come and go.

“We felt that by advertising for a few months before enforcing them it would allow for citizens to correct issues on their own,” he said. “We felt that it was important for citizens to be aware of the issues before enforcement actions were initiated.”

The notice quotes a town ordinance requiring real estate to be kept free of debris, trash and junk.

“Owners of real estate in the town shall not accumulate, or allow to be accumulated, any trash, garbage, refuse, litter, junk and other substances which might endanger the health or safety of other residents of the town,” it says. “Every owner of real estate in the town shall keep the property free of all trash, garbage, refuse, litter and other substances.”

The regulation goes on to warn that failure to comply results in a letter describing the substance to be removed and the time frame to accomplish the removal. From the date of notification, the owner will have 30 to 45 days to clean up.

“In the event the owner of the real estate is not a resident of the town, notice may be sent to the owner by certified mail, return-receipt requested at his or her current address as shown on the tax records of the town,” the regulation said.

The decision can be appealed to the town council at its next regular meeting. If the debris is not removed within the specified time period the town will then have it removed and the owner will be charged.

“In the event the owner fails to pay the costs within 30 days of notice of the costs, the costs may be collected by the town as taxes and levies are collected,” the regulation said. Failure to pay will result in a lien against the real estate.

Meanwhile, inoperative vehicles that are not within a fully enclosed structure or otherwise screened from public view on property zoned for residential, commercial or agricultural will also be ticketed.

However, the provision does not apply to a licensed business which on June 25, 1970, was regularly engaged in business as an automobile dealer, salvage dealer or scrap processor.

Once notified of a violation, a property owner will have 15 days to take remedial action before a summons is issued, the provision said. Residents can appeal the decision within 10 days by requesting to appear before town council at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The town also has the authority to remove the vehicle with the cost assessed to the landowner.

The summons would require the landowner to appear in General District Court. If the judge sides with the town he will give the landowner a time limit to address the violation, and could order the sale or junking of the vehicle.

“The cost of any removal and disposal shall be chargeable to the owner of the vehicle or premises and may be collected by the town as taxes and levies are collected,” the section said. A lien against the property will continue “until actual payment of the cost shall have been made to the town.”

Town regulations also allow for removal of overgrown weeds, grass and vegetation, and to allow lawns to become overrun is a misdemeanor.

The ordinance said it is a misdemeanor for a landowner to allow shrubs or vegetation to protrude into the street or sidewalk, or “obstruct, impede or threaten the safe and orderly movement of persons or vehicles.”

Failure to “remove fallen trees, detached limbs or branches, the accumulation of which is offensive, unwholesome and unsightly,” is also a misdemeanor. Exceptions, made at the discretion of the town manager, are made for farmlands, extremely large lots, undue hardship and undeveloped lots.

If a violation persists after the time specified in a notice of violation and is deemed an “imminent, substantial or compelling threat,” the town will clean up the location and charge for it.