City in Tennessee Passes Ordinance Against Storing Junk Cars on Own Property

carsApproximately 12 million cars are recycled in the U.S. every year, but many Americans do not choose to recycle or receive cash for cars. Instead, these cars sit on their owners’ properties as huge eyesores for the neighboring community.

While no one likes the view of junk cars out their window, it seems to be a personal matter rather than one that concerns the law. However, one city in Tennessee was sick of the unsightly cars that seemed to line the roads, and did something about it.

On Sept. 20, the Athens City Council announced preliminary approval of an ordinance that states that “any vehicle which is rusted, wrecked, junked, partially dismantled or in such disrepair that it can no longer be used for its intended purpose,” is declared a public nuisance.

Athens, known as “The Friendly City,” also declares that signs on telephone poles and uncut grass are “public nuisances,” and are punishable by fine.

Violations will be issued by police on a complaint basis, as the police force simply does not have the ability to search every lot. If an officer does find a junk car, however, they will issue a violation to the owner.

The meeting to pass the ordinance has been in the works. The Council was ready to pass the ordinance on Aug. 16, but refrained after a council member put forth an amendment which proposed, “adding language that would allow for Athens residents to file a complaint in these matters regardless of the assessment of law enforcement or codes enforcement officials.”

This language, however, is already implied, as Athens citizens are able to file complaints under any city code violation. The complainant(s) may file their complaint whether the Codes Enforcement Division or the Athens Police Department determines that a violation has been committed or not, and the issue will be resolved in Athens Municipal Court.

Officers currently encourage complainants to sign a citation and swear to an affidavit, then appear in court to argue their complaint in person.

The ordinance, as it stands, doesn’t apply if the vehicle in question is enclosed in a building or is being stored temporarily without exceeding a 30-day limit.

The penalty for junk car violations is $50 per day until the violation is resolved.

On Oct. 18, the Athens City Council will reread the ordinance and hold a final meeting, as well as a public hearing will accompany.

Athens residents who have comments on the new ordinance are encouraged to attend the hearing.

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