THE CITY ENVIRONMENT — City officials are looking for ways to crack down on residents who have piles of trash or inoperable vehicles in their yards.
On Monday evening, City Council considered a proposed amendment to the city’s Zoning Ordinance (Section 17-22) which states that dumps, dumps, auto graveyards, landfills and trash heaps will only be permitted where zoning district by-laws specifically permit.
Where permitted, they must be completely shielded from view of surrounding properties by fencing, walls or other methods. In addition, inoperable motor vehicles must be stored in a completely enclosed building in the Residential, Rural, Central Commercial, Highway Commercial, and Traditional Neighborhood Design neighborhoods of Middletown. In areas where inoperable vehicles may be kept outdoors, they should be isolated from public roads and surrounding properties. Permissible screen options include opaque fencing, opaque landscaping, or opaque natural vegetation.
If the change is approved, Middletown Zoning Administrator David Burke said it would allow him to issue citations for “dead inspections, no tags, no tires, junk cars, whatever. “, as well as to bring criminal charges. He could also press charges against landlords who have piles of garbage.
He added that he would be able to reach out to people who have old household furniture – such as mattresses and sofas – in their yard, as well as discarded tires and construction debris.
He said updating the order would give him the ability to “clean up these properties.”
Burke told the council he would give those in violation of the order a verbal warning. If they do not correct the problem, they will receive a letter giving them 30 days to comply. If the matter is still unresolved, he would then have the option of filing a complaint.
The council was generally supportive of the proposed updates because they give the city more power to deal with properties that are unsightly, a nuisance or a danger to public health. However, a few have expressed concern that Burke gave a verbal warning first, as the owner may deny receiving such a warning. Council members Shayla Rickard and Scott Fink suggested sending written notifications instead.
Council and the City Planning Commission will hold a joint public hearing at 7 p.m. on March 28 to seek public comment on the proposed amendment to the ordinance.
Also at the meeting:
Council considered a letter from town resident Whitney Arnold asking the town to install a volleyball court and net at Middletown Park to provide recreational opportunities for children and adults.
Middletown Public Works Superintendent Les Morefield said it would cost $30,000 to build a volleyball court.
Several council members agreed that a volleyball court would be a good resource for the town, but were concerned about the cost associated with the project as well as ongoing maintenance.
No decision has been made on the continuation of the project
Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV and Council Members Jeff Pennington, Scott Fink, Shayla Rickard, Stephanie Mitchell, Carolyn Aliff and Carole Snyder Jones attended the meeting at City Hall at 7875 Church Street.