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Town passes junk ordinance

VERNON—The Selectboard passed a new junk ordinance at its Dec. 5 regular meeting. It goes into effect Feb. 3, 2017.

During the previous meeting on Nov. 21, there was some question whether Board members were interested in creating it.

“First of all, do you want a junk ordinance?” Town Administrator Michelle Pong asked Board members at the Nov. 21 meeting. She explained this legislation would cover “trash and junk cars in someone’s yard,” and define when a car goes from a regular car to a junk car.

Pong assured the Board this ordinance wouldn’t cover salvage yards.

“If there’s a pile of garbage in front of somebody’s house and the neighbors don’t want to look at it anymore, this is a [way] where they’ll have some relief,” Pong said.

When the Selectboard decides they wanted a junk ordinance, Pong’s job is to collect their input and write one.

Pong also reminded the Board they had to declare an enforcing officer or officers and then appoint them.

Board member Steve Skibniowsky questioned why he and his colleagues had to decide this, asking if it was a state mandate.

Selectboard Chair Christiane Howe reminded Skibniowsky that the town has had “problems” with complaints about junk in yards, requiring assistance from the town’s health officer. “This will take care of it,” she said.

“Then we’ll have an ordinance,” Board member Josh Unruh said, “instead of, ‘please take your junk out of your yard because the Selectboard would like you to.’”

Pong said the new “Town Of Vernon Ordinance Regulating The Outdoor Storage Of Junk And Junk Vehicles” states its purpose, defines terms, details requirements, names enforcing officers, and announces penalties for scofflaws.

Some highlights include the limit of “junk cars” a person may have on their property: two.

Enforcement officers are “any Individual, Health Officer or Law Enforcement Official appointed by the Selectboard to enforce the provisions of this ordinance.”

And “junk” includes “old or scrap copper, brass, iron, steel, and other old or scrap or nonferrous material including, but not limited to, rope, rags, batteries, glass, rubber debris, waste, trash, or any discarded, dismantled, wrecked, scrapped, or ruined motor vehicle or parts thereof.”

To read the full ordinance, go to the Vernon Town Offices.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #387 (Wednesday, December 14, 2016). This story appeared on page C2.

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