Grafton Select Board OKs junk vehicle regulations

By Mark Burbela

©The Chester Telegraph – 2014

Despite objections from some of the 25 residents in attendance, the Grafton Select Board on Monday, July 21, passed a new ordinance regulating the storage of junk and junk vehicles, in an attempt to address numerous complaints about junk stored at private residences and to ensure state assistance in enforcement.

The ordinance will go into effect 60 days from that date. The public has 44 days, until Sept. 3, 2014, to appeal the ordinance by petition. Five percent of the town’s 500 registered voters  — or about 25 voters — must sign a petition for the issue to be brought to referendum, and the subsequent town vote.

The updated ordinance was drawn up by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, an agency that helps draft regulations and ordinances for Vermont towns. The Grafton Town Office then edited the ordinance to fit the town needs.

While it allows up to four unregistered motor vehicles per property, the items must be stored in an area that is not “visible from the main traveled way of a highway or town road, or visible to an abutting property owner from that portion of the abutter’s land used on a regular basis,” according to the law. Decorative items or seasonally used equipment are not affected by the ordinance.

“I’ve waited 20 years for this ordinance. You postponed it
last meeting now you want to postpone it again?”

Cathy Siano
Grafton resident

Select Board member Sam Battaglino made the motion to vote on the regulation, which passed three to one, with one member — Gus Plummer — absent. Board member Peter Jeziorski voted against the ordinance after he made a motion to postpone the vote for two weeks, saying that the public was not fully informed of the legislation.

But resident Cathy Siano said, “I’ve waited 20 years for this ordinance. You postponed it last meeting now you want to postpone it again?”

Dave Culver said he did not support the ordinance.  “We are too regulated as it is,” he said. “I remember, 40, 50 years ago, when most Vermonters were lower- or lower-middle class and everybody had junk in their yards.”

Residents also raised questions regarding enforcement and penalties along with concerns over neighbors reporting people they do not get along with. Town administrator Rachel Williams said, “Once a complaint has been filed with my office, the constable and health officer respond to the residence. If either of these officials are not available, a selectmen or the town administrator my fill in. Two people go to make sure there is no discrimination.”

If the homeowner is found to be in violation, he is issued a written warning and will then have 30 days to either clean up the situation or screen it from view. If the homeowner is still in violation the Windham County Sheriff’s office will issue a $200 fine. Every 30 days an additional $200 will be added to the fine up to a total of $800, at which time the State Police will be notified. The offender then would be issued an order to appear in Civil Court. According to Williams, possible consequences include, but are not limited to misdemeanor charges or liens on the property.

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  1. Henry Moseley says:

    Congratulations to the Chester Telegraph for publishing this story. I hope that in the days to come all yards will become tidy but at the same time the truly poor will be treated fairly. Given the make-up of the Grafton select board, it might take a petition.