Borough’s Junked/Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance Could Be Strengthened

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Hellertown Borough Council members discussed possible changes to the borough’s junked and abandoned vehicle ordinance at their meeting Monday, with council ultimately agreeing to consider trying to toughen the ordinance.

Police Chief Robert Shupp suggested two possible changes to the current ordinance:

FILE PHOTO

FILE PHOTO

  • A permitting system, which would require the owners of vehicles covered by tarps to apply for and pay for an annual tarping permit.
  • A requirement that vehicles parked on private property be parked on a paved surface rather than on grass.

Councilman Phil Weber suggested that some property owners’ well-maintained homes are being devalued by junked vehicles on neighboring properties.

With councilmen Herb Payung and James Hill absent, council voted 5-0 to have a draft revision of the ordinance prepared for future consideration.

“Several options and model ordinances will be evaluated, and a proposal will be brought back for further discussion,” council president Tom Rieger confirmed.

The next borough council meeting will be held Tuesday, July 5 at 7 p.m. at Hellertown Borough Hall.

The current abandoned and junked vehicle ordinance was last updated almost a decade ago, and is as follows (source: Hellertown Borough Code):

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
NUISANCE
It shall be unlawful for any person, owner or lessee to maintain a motor vehicle nuisance outside of an enclosed structure on the private grounds of such person, owner or lessee within the Borough of Hellertown or upon any public grounds owned by the Borough of Hellertown. A motor vehicle nuisance shall include, but is not limited to, any vehicle which is unable to move under its own power and has any of the following physical defects: [Added 8-21-2006 by Ord. No. 694]
A. 

Broken windshields, mirrors, or other glass with sharp edges.
B. 

One or more flat or open tires or tubes which would permit vermin harborage.
C. 

Missing doors, windows, hood, trunk, or other body parts which could permit animal harborage.
D. 

Any body part with sharp edges, including holes resulting from rust.
E. 

Missing tires resulting in unsafe suspension of the motor vehicle.
F. 

Upholstery which is torn or open which could permit animal and/or vermin harborage.
G. 

Broken headlamps or taillamps with sharp edges.
H. 

Disassembled chassis parts apart from the motor vehicle, stored in a disorderly fashion or loose in or on the vehicle.
I. 

Protruding sharp objects from the chassis.
J. 

Broken vehicle frame suspended from the ground in an unstable manner.
K. 

Leaking or damaged oil pan or gas tank which could cause fire or explosion.
L. 

Exposed battery containing acid.
M. 

Inoperable locking mechanisms for doors or trunk.
N. 

Open or damaged floorboards, including trunk and fire wall.
O. 

Damaged bumpers pulled away from the perimeter for the vehicle.
P. 

Broken grill with protruding edges.
Q. 

Loose or damaged metal trim and clips.
R. 

Broken communications equipment antenna.
S. 

Suspended or unstable supports.
T. 

Such other defects which could threaten the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Borough of Hellertown.
VEHICLE
An article designed for travel by the use of wheels, treads, runners, propellers or slides, the principal purpose of which is to transport persons, property and/or goods on or through a medium and shall include, without limitation, automobiles, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, tractors, snowmobiles and boats or other items of mechanical conveyance.
VEHICLE, ABANDONED OR JUNKED
A vehicle, as defined in this chapter, that is not currently licensed or is not currently inspected and/or registered pursuant to the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania such that the vehicle is not legally permitted to be operated on the roads and streets of the Borough and commonwealth, which has been stored on the premises outside of an enclosed structure, which shall be defined as having four walls and a roof, for a period in excess of 15 days and, given its current state of repair, is not capable of being used for the principal purpose(s) for which it is constructed or maintained or be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair or in the process of being stripped, dismantled or restored, which shall include any portions of disassembled vehicles and/or assembled or disassembled vehicle parts, whether or not in a usable condition, and shall constitute a nuisance.

[Amended 8-21-2006 by Ord. No. 694]

§ 430-2 Storage of junked vehicles prohibited.

A. 

It shall be deemed a violation of this chapter for the owner of any property or premises to park or store (in the open) outside of an enclosed structure, defined as having four walls and a roof, any abandoned and/or junked vehicle or vehicles or to permit another to park or store in the open any abandoned and/or junked vehicle or vehicles when such use constitutes a nuisance and/or if any condition, structure or improvement poses a threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public.

[Amended 8-21-2006 by Ord. No. 694]

B. 

When a law enforcement officer and/or Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough shall determine that a junked and/or abandoned vehicle (as defined in § 430-1 of this chapter) is being maintained on a property in violation of the terms of this chapter, said officer and/or Code Enforcement Officer shall notify the owner of the subject property by certified mail and shall order said owner to abate the violation and come into full compliance with the terms of this chapter within 15 days from the receipt of the notification if the vehicle is unregistered, unlicensed and/or uninspected or if the vehicle is in disrepair for a period of 15 days from the receipt of the notification.

C. 

It shall be deemed a continuous violation of this chapter should any owner of a junked and/or abandoned vehicle or vehicles attempt to avoid the intent of the chapter by removing the junked and/or abandoned vehicle or vehicles from the property and placing said vehicle or vehicles in an enclosed structure, as defined in this chapter, during the fifteen-day notice period only to return the same or another vehicle or vehicles owned by the aggrieved property owner to an area of the property outside an enclosed structure that would meet the definition of a junked and/or abandoned vehicle or vehicles, as defined in this chapter, within six months of receiving the initial notice of violation.

D. 

The Borough of Hellertown shall have the right to forego the fifteen-day waiting period and immediately remove any vehicle that violates this chapter and poses an immediate threat to the general public or property. All costs incurred by this removal shall be done at the owner’s expense. The Borough of Hellertown shall have sole discretion of what is deemed to be an immediate threat to the general public or property.[1]

[1]

Editor’s Note: Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 430-3 Violations and penalties. [1]

Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 but not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues or each section of this chapter which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.

[1]

Editor’s Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

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