The Lovettsville Town Council on Thursday night debated the merits of a proposed ordinance that would require residents to remove inoperable vehicles stored on their lawns.
The ordinance, drafted using wording from West Point, VA, as a template, would prohibit town residents from keeping inoperable motor vehicles on their property except in enclosed structures or otherwise shielded from public view. An inoperable motor vehicle would be defined as one not in operating condition, with no valid license plate and/or state inspection sticker, or one that is partially or totally disassembled.
The town would issue a violation notice and a separate offense would apply for every 10-day period vehicle is not removed. A civil ticket in Lovettsville is initially $200 and $500 for subsequent citations.
Lovettsville resident Nicholas Frederickson addressed the council Thursday night, saying the town would be encroaching on residents’ rights to own and maintain personal property.
“There aren’t any inoperable vehicles speeding through town,” he said. “It’s not like they’re hurting anybody.”
According to Zoning Administrator Joshua Bateman, the proposal is meant to keep the town quiet and conflict free. He said inoperable vehicles on some properties present a neighborhood nuisance, possiblty hurting nieghbors’ real estate values and ability to sell their homes.
“These things do have real financial, monetary implications,” Bateman said. “It’s not intended to deprive anybody of their personal property.”
He suggested the addition of two provisions—one for residents in violation to appeal to the Town Council and one that would prohibit the abandonment of an inoperable vehicle on another person’s property or on public rights of way or property.
Bateman noted that the town’s existing zoning ordinance prohibits the storage of more than five inoperable motor vehicles on an individual’s property. The revised ordinance would give town staff the ability to civilly enforce it. Although the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office does not currently enforce the town’s ordinances, the staff could have inoperable vehicles towed after an initial notification of violation.
The Planning Commission will review those suggestions before the proposal returns to the Town Council on Nov.16.